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Choral Ensemble heads to White House
The Dispatch


When Lexington Senior High School senior Megan Conner joined the Choral Ensemble last school year, she never knew it would lead to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The 18-year-old will not only go to Washington , D.C. , with the ensemble but she will sing with them at the White House Christmas Open House on Monday.

"I'm happy," Conner said. "It's a great opportunity."

The invitation to sing was arranged by Jenny Michael, a graduate of LSHS, who works in the office of Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C.

Michael told Dole about the ensemble and she asked if the group would like to come to the White House, said Lee Mabe, chorus director. After Mabe sent a CD and information about the group, the invitation became official.

"It's a tremendous honor," Mabe said. "It's nice to have this honor and opportunity. A lot of these kids haven't been to D.C. before. It's really an exciting experience." Mabe said he always wanted to perform at the White House, but he said after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the White House stopped having the open house. He came close in 2000, when the ensemble sang on the steps of the Capitol.

The only bad side to the trip is that Mabe is not allowed to take the whole 34-member ensemble; he can only take 20 students.

Mabe had the students audition for a spot in small groups.

"We knew he was up to something, we just didn't know what," said senior Sandy Pope, 17. "When he called my name I was so excited."

Mabe said he wanted to take as many seniors as he could, but he also had to have the right balance of tenors, basses and sopranos.

Conner is more than thrilled she was chosen to go on the trip. She said if it had not been for her participation in the ensemble, she probably would not have had the opportunity to go to Washington .

It's a dream come true for her.

"It's our nation's capital," Conner said. "I feel very good because I always wanted to go."

Not only have the students been practicing every morning in second period for an hour and a half, but they have been using their performances in Lexington for practice as well.

Conner said she practices nonstop every day, whether it's singing while washing the dishes or cleaning up while she's home. She even hums while she's in class or walking in the hallways.

She practices constantly because she wants to be perfect, but she's also preparing for a solo she has in "Jamaican Noel," one of the ensemble's songs.

"I practice over and over in my head," Conner said.

Conner has to practice whenever she can because she has other extracurricular activities she's involved in.

"I have cheerleading practice, concerts, basketball games and homework to do," she said. "Everything keeps my week full. I get pretty busy."

Sophomore Ty Holmes, a football player and track member, agreed with Conner that sometimes the workload can get overwhelming, but it's worth it.

"It's a routine you get used to," said the 15-year-old. "I'm used to constantly going all the time."

Holmes said it makes him feel good to be chosen to go on the trip because this is the first year he has been a part of the ensemble.

"I'm looking forward to the trip," he said. "It might be a once-in-a-lifetime trip for me. "

The ensemble has a selection of 16 songs that equals out to 30 minutes' worth of music. They will sing for 90 minutes Monday morning at the White House.

The majority of their a cappella music selection will be around the Christmas theme, including "Deck the Halls," "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Ding Dong Merrily on High" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." The ensemble will also perform a Latin piece.

"It's a big responsibility," Holmes said about singing at the White House. "We're going to make a good name for everybody. We're representing the high school and Davidson County ."

After they perform, they will go on a tour of the White House. Before leaving they will also go to some of the memorials in Washington .

The ensemble has also performed at Disney World, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Biltmore House Christmas Celebration, the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh and in Toronto, Canada, to name a few over the last couple of years.

"Everybody does not get the opportunity to go to the White House," Pope said. "We get to go and sing - that's truly an honor. You always see it on TV, but it's going to be so exciting to see it in person."










Jacob Gordon sings a solo part of a Christmas song during a Lexington Senior High School Choral Ensemble rehearsal Wednesday for an upcoming performance at the White House on Monday.  Photos by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch




















































 The Dispatch

October 17. 2006 1:00PM

   Students at Pickett have been learning to make good decisions with money, studying a unit on “Dollars and Sense,”

   To demonstrate just how easy it is to save money, classes started their own savings plans, according to information from the school.

    Some classes have their own stores, where students can spend money they have saved.  Some classes even have their own ‘ATM.’  

   Students in one class even began collecting spare change and decided to save money for a pizza party, setting a goal of $25. After only a week of saving spare change and counting it each day, students exceeded their goal, collecting $32.05.

Students celebrated with a party, paid for with their own spare change.




Principal of the year gives credit to staff 

 Calderone is Lexington principal of the year again

 The Dispatch

Emy Calderone , principal of Charles England Intermediate School , said it’s wonderful to receive honors like the 2006-07 Lexington City Schools’ Principal of the Year, but her real reward is going to school every day working with her staff and being there for her students.

Calderone, who was nominated by Lexington City Schools’ central office and other principals in the system, was also the 2005-06 Principal of the Year for the school system.

“It’s always an honor to represent Lexington City Schools. I believe in what we’re doing,” she said. “I feel very honored to be a part of such great principals that I admire and look up to. It makes you feel good. I hope I can do all of us proud.”

But Calderone does not want to take all the credit for Charles England being a success. She said it’s because of the students and staff. She said her main partner is the assistant principal, Rona Lockhart.

“I have the best staff,” she said. “We work together as a team. When principal of the year is awarded it’s both of ours.”

Calderone, 33, is a graduate of Lexington Senior High School and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington . She received her bachelor of arts degree in English with a minor in sociology in 1995. She became a teacher because she wanted to work with children and saw the fulfillment her father, West Lamoureaux , got from being a teacher. Lamoureaux has been involved with education in the school system for 35 years.

While teaching English at North Rowan High School , the principal at the time, Doug Eury, suggested she become involved with administration. While teaching she took classes and received a master’s degree in school administration from Appalachian State University in 1999.

She then came back to her hometown to become an assistant principal in the same system where she attended school.

“I felt like I needed to come home,” she said. “I really believe in the school system and what they’re doing for the kids. I felt I owed them something after they helped feed me and get me through college, so I came here and worked as hard as I could.”

After being the assistant principal for two years at Charles England she became the principal in 2001.

“I did miss teaching, but I felt like I could make it better or easier for teachers on a wider scale,” she said.

Calderone’s priority right now is getting the new Charles England built the way it needs to be built. A new school will be built on Cornelia Street to replace the current building on Smith Avenue . She said her teachers and students deserve a state-of-the art building.

“She is fantastic,” Lockhart said. “She is the driving force behind the success in this building. She should be honored by it. She’s one of the most creative and innovative people I’ve ever worked with and is not afraid to take a risk.”

Students at Charles England think highly of Calderone, too.

“She loves children,” said fourth-grader Shemar Anderson. “She tries to take up for me. That makes me feel good. She don’t put up with a lot of stuff either.”

“She’s nice,” said fifth-grader Elida Cruz. “She eats lunch with me.”

Calderone will now have to present a portfolio for the regional competition for Wachovia Principal of the Year. The portfolio will consist of recommendations, an essay about leadership, her thoughts on educational philosophy and different strategies used to impact student achievement.

She also received the 1999 Outstanding Young Educator of the Year from Rowan County Schools.

Calderone will be receiving her superintendent license in May from Appalachian State. She has a goal of being superintendent one day, but not anytime soon.

She said she loves the central office, but it’s too far away from the students.

“They’re the reason I come to work every day,” she said. “I’m happy where I am right now, and I’m having fun. This is the best place in the world.”













New program has students preparing for college

  The Dispatch 

Seniors at Lexington Senior High School are getting help with making plans for after high school by participating in College Summit, a new program the school initiated this year.

College Summit is a national program that works to increase the college enrollment rate of high school students by ensuring students who can make it in college get the chance to do so.

"If you feel you can make it in college, we can help you get in," Barbara Pendergrass, business education teacher, told the Lexington City Board of Education Tuesday night. "Whatever your dreams are, we can help you."

The program, in which all LSHS seniors participate, raises awareness for students with information about colleges, higher education and other career choices. It helps academically prepare them and has a step-by-step process to help them transition from high school to college.

Pendergrass said it's important for students to plan ahead, so they will be successful. She said graduation is only the beginning, and they have to be prepared for life beyond high school.

"I'm tired of turning them out to the streets," she said.

Twenty-six students spent four days during the summer attending college planning workshops at either the University of North Carolina at Asheville or UNC-Wilmington to become peer leaders to help other students and also assist teachers. These then-rising seniors were selected for having at least a 2.0 to 3.0 GPA and capable of attending college.

Teachers received training in West Virginia on the curriculum to present to seniors. The curriculum consists of financial aid information and practices for filling out college applications and essays.

The peer leaders also have created a model senior portfolio with goals, college lists and applications, essays, a résumé and transcripts.

The students will begin by practicing what they've learned from the program at a college fair at Davidson Community College on Oct. 17.

Throughout the year, seniors meet at least once a week for 45 to 60 minutes.

Only three schools in North Carolina have the program, said Gloria Smith , high school director for Lexington City Schools.

She said the program is expensive, and funds from GEAR UP North Carolina and the College Foundation of North Carolina cover the program for Lexington Senior High. The program will continue for five years.

Pendergrass said College Summit is working.

"Students are thinking about their future," she said. "We are going to see some results."

Pendergrass said it is very important that the program has school board and community support.

"If they (students) don't succeed, we fail as a society."




LSHS freshmen learn high school is not a scary place

  The Dispatch


In hopes to ease some of the first-day-of-school jitters, administrators and teachers gathered at Lexington Senior High School Tuesday for the Bridges program, which will help with the transition from middle to high school.

"The objective is to make the incoming freshmen feel special," said Donnie Holt , director of student services for Lexington City Schools.

Letters were sent out to all the 200 incoming freshmen this spring asking them to attend this first-time event. About 67 students were in attendance, he said. Classes start Aug. 25.

"I would like to have 200, but it's the summertime," Holt said. "I am really tickled these kids gave up one day out of their summer."

The program started at 8 a.m. and concluded at 3 p.m. Later parents and students had a chance to meet Gregory Newlin , the high school's new principal, during a reception.

Holt praised those who attended the seven-hour Bridges program.

"It really says a lot about the parents and the students," Holt said. "It shows that they want to be successful."

Students were placed in multiple groups and rotated through six different 30-minute sections dealing with an array of topics the will soon affect their lives.

Vickie Foye, the 12th-grade counselor at LSHS, informed students about the school's counseling center. She helped banish some of the rumors while talking to the students about the importance of their grades and thinking ahead.

"Freshmen sometimes don't realize that everything counts," Foye said.

She warned how their school records follow them.

Brady Bailey, the instructional technology specialist for Lexington City Schools, talked with the students about the importance of technology.

"Technology is a part of your future," Bailey said. "No matter what profession you choose you have to know technology."

Sonja Smith, a second-year math teacher at Lexington Senior High, had a more casual conversation with the students. She explained how being nervous was expected, and how students should not be afraid to ask questions and take advantage of teachers' expertise.

"Not only are you learning, but the teachers are learning, too," Smith said.

Students also heard about the many career courses the school provides.

"It gives everyone what they want," said Jacob Hathaway, an incoming freshman, after hearing the long list of career pathways provided at the school.

Classes will not be the most difficult thing that Hathaway has to tackle this fall. He says "going from being one of the biggest persons in middle school to one of the smallest in high school" makes him a little nervous.

Students also heard how to develop good habits and received a tour from some current LSHS seniors.

For incoming freshman William Burns, the program did what it promised.

"It's good," Burns said. "It helps us with what we need to have."

Many students found that high school is not as scary as they might have believed.

"I heard the teachers were mean, but they are really nice," said Brandon Richards after the day's experience.

The day concluded with a what-not-to-wear fashion show provided by some of the current seniors. And students learned about athletics eligibility, attendance policy and truancy.

Kelly Lamb, who will be a senior at LSHS, said she feels the new freshmen will enter the school year with more knowledge than her and her classmates.

"It lets them know a lot more; we kind of walked in blind," Lamb said. "We had no idea what we were doing."

Later on Tuesday students and parents were invited back to meet Newlin.

Parents trickled in to meet the new principal.

"At first I was a little leery because he is young and new, but I'm going to give him a chance," said parent Anne-Marie Suszek. "Sometimes new is good."

Her daughter, Crystal Gagnon, said she did not want to attend the program Tuesday morning, but her mother told her she had to attend.

Suszek says being familiar with the new surroundings is vital to her daughter's education.

"Being a freshman, I wanted her to be ready and not just thrown into the wolves," Suszek said.

After talking with the new principal, Bobbi Armstrong, who has a son who is an incoming freshman, said she thinks Newlin will do fine as the new administrator and that he will provide some accountability.

He husband, Albert Armstrong, agreed.

"If parents get behind him and support him he will be all right," Armstrong said.

The hour-long reception ended with Newlin delivering a speech.

"This is to welcome me, which is odd. I don't want it to be like that," Newlin said. "This is to welcome you - this is your school."

During his talk, Newlin introduced the school's new instructional leadership team - Seth Cabonor , Lori Lawrence and Jackie Tobias, who will all serve as chief instructional officers.

Newlin acknowledged the curriculum and instructional needs of the school.

"School will be fun, school will be work. It might be some of the hardest work you will ever do," he said.

He ended the night saying the school is his new family. "This is going to be home for a long time."



New program teaches children to look their best for success

The Dispatch


 Students in Lexington City Schools will receive a new attitude along with a new look this year.

New Attitudes' Angels, a program started by hairstylist and salon owner Diana Nixon to help children look their best for success, will provide grooming services to children from Lexington City Schools.

Nixon, the owner and operator of New Attitudes Beauty Salon on East First Avenue, will sponsor these children beginning in October.

"Whenever you look good, you feel good," Nixon said. "Your self-esteem goes up."

She said she received the idea from a message she heard preached in church. The message talked about how people who are blessed should use their blessing to help others.

"The message got into my heart, and it was like God was telling me to do something," Nixon said.

Since then she has been working diligently to get the program ready for the fall. The program will work in connection with Communities in Schools, a program that champions the connection of needed community resources with schools to help young people successfully learn, stay in school and prepare for life.

"We are working with the whole child here. We are doing things to improve behavior, attendance and attitude," said Pat Ellison, Communities in Schools site coordinator for Lexington Middle School. "This will enhance our program."

The program will accept 48 students every 30 days who are referred through the Communities in Schools program, teachers or other students.

After being referred, students will be rotated over the 30-day period, allowing one or two students a week a chance to be pampered for the day.

The children will receive hair services depending on age of the child and consent from the parent or guardian. Services may include shampoo and conditioning, haircuts, hair treatments and styling. The boys will be taken to Charlie's Barber Shop to receive haircuts.

The middle school children will receive skin care provided by a certified consultant. This care will include teaching proper face-cleaning techniques; facials and make-up will be introduced to the 12th-grade girls once the skin is healthy.

These girls must have parental consent, and child and parent will both have to attend the initial meeting.

"Sometimes we need a change to give us a little lift," Ellison said. "Sometimes we cannot see ourselves until we see the beauty."





Lexington hires new high school principal

The Dispatch

A 35-year-old Charlotte resident is the new principal at Lexington Senior High School.

The Lexington City Board of Education voted unanimously at Tuesday night's meeting to hire Greg Newlin, an assistant principal at North Mecklenburg High School. He has held the position in Charlotte for the past eight years. This will be his first principalship.

Dr. Becky Bloxam, superintendent of Lexington City Schools, recommended Newlin to the board for hiring after interviewing five candidates for the job, she said during a brief break in the very long meeting. The school board met in closed session until after midnight on this personnel issue and two other personnel issues.

"The committee felt like he had a varied background in all aspects of running a high school," Bloxam said. "We felt like he had a real passion for students and creating an environment for learning."

Newlin replaces Principal Tristan Todd, who held the position for less than one school year before resigning earlier this calendar year. He left his principal's position at Ledford High School to become principal at Lexington Senior High. Todd left Lexington to accept a job with School Island, an educational software company.

Newlin has been an educator since 1994, after graduating from the College of Charleston with a bachelor of science degree in math. He taught in South Carolina schools until coming to Charlotte to teach at North Mecklenburg High School. He taught there six months before becoming assistant principal, he said.

In 1998, Newlin earned his master's degree in administration and support from The Citadel.

"I'm really interested in a small-town feel," he said after meeting with the board in closed session. "I'm interested in a community feel."

In addition, he said he had no doubt Lexington Senior High had the community support and the qualified staff in place to do great things at the school.

"I wish it was time to open school," he said. "I'm excited about the first day of school already."