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Cheryl M. Shuffler
Public Relations Officer
Burke County Public Schools
(w) 438-2989 | (c) 432-6212

Continental Science Fair winners announced

posted by Cheryl Shuffler


Can water float on water? Do different liquids affect plant growth? How does exercise change your blood pressure and heart rate? Burke County Public Schools middle school students answered these and other probing questions as part of their science fair projects for the 2017 Continental Science Fair. Students who won their school-level science fairs were eligible for the district-wide event, held Thursday, Nov. 16 at Liberty Middle School.

Rexanna Lowman, director of secondary education, announced the winners, recognized all of the students for their hard work and thanked Continental for its sponsorship. Continental representatives Greg Cairnes Sr. and Robert Small attended the awards ceremony and helped hand out ribbons and certificates. Continental employees also helped judge the science fair.

This is the third year Continental has sponsored the event, and Lowman announced the company has signed on for three more years of science fair sponsorship. The company’s sponsorship helps send first-, second- and third-place winners to the regional level in Boone in December.

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said, “We are so appreciative of Continental’s support of our middle school science fair. Their generosity not only gives our winners the chance to attend the regional science fair, but it also helps us grow young, inquisitive minds who could one day have a career at Continental. We are thankful for Continental’s partnership in education and vision in developing a local workforce.”

A total of 54 students presented projects in this year’s science fair. The winners are:       


Biological Science A

HMS, Jordan S., Paw Preference, first

EBMS, Davis W., Castration...Ouch, second

LMS, Kate S., How the Dye “Rose”, third


Biological Science B

HMS, Ben M. and Spencer M., Sticky Fingers, first

TRMS, Austin G. and Orion K., The ABC's of DNA, second

EBMS, Ben P., How Exercise Changes your Blood Pressure and Heart Rate, third



HMS, Laney W., Forensics: How Does It Matter? Measure The Splatter!, first

LMS, Izora G. and Christina S., Oopsie Poopsie, second

LMS, Karson H., Burn Baby Burn, third


Earth Science

LMS, Kiera H., Eco Bottles, first

LMS, Marissa L. and Hailey S., Paint, Paint, Go Away, second

EBMS, Katherine G., Can Water Float on Water?, third



LMS, Caitlin E., RE-ENGERGIZE, first

LMS, Owen S. and Vance J., Solid Waterfall, second

EBMS, Emma S., Melt Down, third



LMS, Keiven L., Designing A Robotic Straw Hand To Pick Up Objects, first

TRMS, Logan M., A Weighty Debate, second

EBMS, Christopher C., Can It Fly?, third



EBMS, Ava C., Complete the Circle, first

HMS, Abigail M., Free Wi-Fi, second

Student offers thoughts on Governor's Page Program

posted by Cheryl Shuffler

Hi, my name is Emma Johnson and I am a Student News Ambassador for Burke County Public Schools.  I wanted to share my experience as a Governor’s Page in Raleigh.  The Governor’s Page Program helps high school students learn about state government in North Carolina and assist staff in the Governor’s office.  I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to find my way around downtown Raleigh and learn about careers within the government.  I was the only Burke County student representing Freedom High School as a Governor's Page this past week.  Jack Swanson, another student at Freedom has also represented Burke County through this program.  I shared this experience with six other students that were mostly from surrounding Raleigh counties.  While pages, we took tours of the Legislative Building, State Capitol Building, NC Museum of History, the Executive Mansion and many other important buildings in downtown Raleigh.  We met with Governor Roy Cooper, Judge Chris Dillon from the NC Court of Appeals, a speaker from the NC Center for Safer Schools, Deputy Agriculture Commissioner David Smith, and many others throughout the week.  Talking to and taking pictures with the Governor was an interesting experience as he talked with us about future leaders and how we can help to shape our future.  I wanted to write about my experience to emphasize how important it is to take advantage of your opportunities and take in as much as you can when it comes to experiencing the world.  I would have never been exposed to the jobs and people if I hadn’t taken advantage of the opportunity presented to me.  If you are interested in this program you can learn more and apply to be chosen at: https://governor.nc.gov/governors-page-programI hope that you will apply and be a part of this awesome program.  

Traveling teaching kitchen driving healthy changes in kids arrives at Heritage Middle School

posted Nov 14, 2017, 12:27 PM by Cheryl Shuffler

Innovative food education shows positive outcomes after chefs and students make meals together

Elly, a mobile teaching kitchen traveling across America, is coming to Burke County Public Schools Nov. 14 through 16 to drive healthy behavior changes in approximately 150 students and their families over three days.

Created by Chartwells K12, Elly is a custom-designed shipping container built into a fully functioning and mobile kitchen. Professional chefs and registered dieticians join Elly to teach culinary skills and food education through interactive cooking demonstrations.

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said, “We’re always searching for innovative ways to broaden our students’ education, both inside and outside the classroom. The fun – and not to mention tasty – food education that Elly will provide helps our teachers, our parents and our community create a healthier future for our students.”

Elly will be at Heritage Middle School Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. During that time, Chartwells K12 Chefs Nick Bobotas and Gray Wagoner and dietitian Colette Stewart will teach four classes each day to cook White Bean and Chicken Tacos with Citrus Avocado Salsa. Culinary students from Draughn and East Burke high schools will be assisting the Chartwells K12 culinary team during the classes. Every student dons an apron and cooks alongside the chef, learning how to press fresh tortillas and slice and sauté red onions. Students also learn how to select healthful ingredients on their own and customize meals to their and their families’ preferences.

To date, Elly has traveled over 2,800 miles and cooked with nearly 2,200 students across the United States, with stops in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New Jersey and now South Carolina.

A survey of participating students at Elly’s first two stops revealed positive outcomes that can impact students’ long-term food and health decisions:

· 8 percent more students were very confident following a simple recipe

· 15 percent more students were very confident about preparing and cooking new foods and recipes

· 29 percent more students were very confident about being able to cook from basic ingredients

“At Chartwells, our role is to provide students with access to delicious and healthy meals while providing them with food education so they discover and truly understand the difference that nutritious foods can make in their daily lives,” said Peggy Luther, Chartwells District Manager. “Elly takes our mission even further and gives us the ability to teach thousands of student’s important lifelong culinary skills and healthy food lessons in a fun and innovative environment.”

To learn more about Elly the Mobile Teaching Kitchen, visit: www.ellythemtk.com.

About Chartwells K12
Chartwells K12 has partnered with York County District One since July 2015 to deliver healthy, great-tasting meals to students in the school cafés. Chartwells K12 provides dining programs more than 4,000 schools serving two million meals a day, ranging from large public institutions to small charter and private schools, and prides itself on extending its dedication, knowledge, and enthusiasm into serving each student delicious, great tasting meals. Chartwells K12 is built on decades of food and education experience and driven by top culinary, nutrition, wellness, and sustainability talent. For more information, visithttp://www.ChartwellsK12.com/.

Burke CTE students rank 7th in the state

posted Nov 9, 2017, 1:25 PM by Cheryl Shuffler

           A high percentage of Burke County Public Schools students enrolled in a Career and Technical Education course go on to earn a credential in that class. A recent ranking released at the annual state CTE conference lists Burke County CTE students seventh in the state based on the number of credentials earned per student enrolled.

            Students completed CTE courses in subjects such as fire fighting, health care and Microsoft Office with credentials, which are endorsed by business and industry and document student mastery of skills required for employment and advancement in a career. In Burke County, 1,514 students enrolled in CTE courses earned 1,302 credentials.

            The state has collected data on CTE students since 2010-11. Statewide, students earned 160,224 credentials issued by professional associations, vendors, or employers during last school year, up from 14 percent the previous year.     

According to the US Department of Education, credentials demonstrate that students have acquired the designated knowledge, skills and abilities to perform a specific job through a written, oral and/or performance-based exam.

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said, “I am extremely proud of our CTE students who go on to receive credentials in their field of study. Our CTE programs are topnotch and our bright and talented students who take advantage of CTE courses are better prepared to enter the workforce and/or further their education because they have mastered skills today’s employers are seeking.”

  Rexanna Lowman, director of secondary education and CTE for Burke County Public Schools, said, “CTE students may not realize the importance of a credential until they apply for a job, but students with credentials actually have an edge over non-credentialed job applicants when it comes to getting hired for entry-level jobs. They also have the potential to make a higher starting salary and because they earn the credentials in high school, there is little or no cost to the student or their parent in the credentialing process.”

Lowman also explained that the ACT WorkKeys also measures career readiness and employability in students. Test-takers who score high enough on the assessment receive a Career Readiness Credential, which is available at four levels – Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. Employers use Career Readiness Credentials as a screen to improve the quality of their workforce and to help potential employees understand the level of performance necessary to be successful in a particular field. In Burke County last year, two students received Platinum scores, 187 Gold, 404 Silver and 188 Bronze.


Photo: A Patton High School student in the fire academy navigates a dark room searching for an exit. Fire fighting is one of the many CTE courses in which students can earn credentials. 

BMC celebrates Fall Fest at WPCC

posted Nov 2, 2017, 3:13 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

By Natalie Ollis, Burke Middle School student


            Western Piedmont Community College and Burke Middle College students come together every year for a huge event called Fall Fest. It is a favorite school event because there is free lunch catered from a local restaurant, club booths, music, games and crafts to take home. Jake’s catered hamburgers, hotdogs and chips this year, and there were funnel cakes for dessert. Fall Fest allows students to connect with each other and have fun at school to take a break from class.

            During Fall Fest, many clubs set up booths in order to promote involvement with the student body. Some clubs that set up were the Science Club, ASL Club and Rotaract Club. There were some colleges that set up tables too, such as Appalachian State University, and also the WPCC Financial Aid advisors. Carly Carpenter, a senior at Burke Middle College, said that she “enjoyed seeing all of the different clubs and organizations gaining support and interacting with the students and staff.” She volunteered, working to serve the food for the students, because she said she wanted to support the SGA and be involved in her schools.

            Fall Fest is also known for the crafts and games. This year, there was a blow up laser tag arena, DIY tie-dye coasters and personalized license plates. Angel Xiong, WPCC SGA president and BMC senior, was very excited about the turnout for the crafts and event itself. She said her favorite part was the customizable tie-dye coasters. She said, “It was a great experience being able to personalize and design a coaster that I can hold onto forever.”

Students tie-dyed the coasters using sharpies and alcohol, and then could further personalize them by putting on a monogram sticker. SGA student volunteers also helped students make license plates to take home, or put on the front of their vehicles.

Senior organizes dragon boat team, raises money for breast cancer

posted Nov 2, 2017, 3:11 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

By Bridger Scoggins, Patton High School student


Kacey Johnson, a senior at Patton High School, put together a team of teens and adults to race in the annual Lake James Dragon Boat Festival on Sept. 30 for her senior project and to raise money for breast cancer. They called themselves the Patton Paddlers. All of the money raised at this festival is donated to breast cancer. Each of the 14 teams at the festival consisted of 20 paddlers, a cox (steerer), and the drummer (determines the paddling pace). The student contestants on the Patton Paddlers were Austin Sweeney, Olivia Kirk, Molly Messenheimer, Katelyn Roper, Evan Westra, Bridger Scoggins, James Scott, Luke Wilcox, Kaedon Spangler, Taylor Sweeney, Calli Westra and Skye Scoggins. Kacey led them as the drummer and captain. These students worked in unison to paddle their way a distance of 250 meters as fast as they could.

The festival had two rounds and then division championships. In the first and second rounds, each team raced once against one opposing team. Each individual team’s times from the first and second rounds were added up, and then each team was seeded 1 through 13. Seeds 1 through 4 were placed in Division A. Seeds 5 through 7 were placed in Division B. Seeds 8 through 10 were placed in Division C. Seeds 11-13 were placed in Division D. Each team in their division raced simultaneously, and the winner of their division was crowned Division Champion.

Kacey and Patton Paddlers took on the Blazing Paddlers in the first round, putting up a time of 01:13.36. They barely beat the time of 01:14.09 by the opposing team. Patton Paddlers’ 01:08.15 lost the second round to the Healing Dragons of Charlotte’s time of 01:06.88. Gaining the 5th seed overall, and top seed in Division B, the Patton Paddlers were upset by the Breath of Fire in the Division B Championship in the closet finish of the day. The times were separated by 00:00.08 (01:07.30 to 01:07.38).

Kacey said, “I am extremely happy with the results of the day, even though we didn’t win our last race. After all, none of us on my team had even touched a dragon boat before. We had no idea what were doing, and had to learn on the go.”

Evan said, “I was shocked at how tiring the races were. The 250m finish line didn’t look that far away when you are at the starting line, but the time it took to get there felt like forever. It was just really important for us to stay in unison, paddling at the same time. That created the most speed and gave us the edge if we could do it.”

Forest Hill teacher has article published in magazine

posted Nov 2, 2017, 3:09 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

By Beth LeCroy, Patton High School student

Jen Brittain, a kindergarten teacher at Forest Hill Elementary School, contributed to an article in “Parents Magazine” recently. The 23 year Burke County Public Schools employee was approached to share her knowledge on how she utilizes technology in her classroom. In the article she talks about her usage of tablets for instruction and apps that can track individual progress, which Brittain can then use to shape her instruction. She describes how parents can check on their child’s progress at home as well and said, “That’s a great connection between home and school. "I love seeing students make connections with the real world through the use of technology and through our standard course of study." Forest Hill Principal Sara LeCroy said, “Mrs. Brittain is a leader in instruction and technology in our school and our district. She is always looking for new ways to integrate technology into student learning."

Girl Scout hosts volunteer fair for Gold Award

posted Nov 2, 2017, 3:08 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

By Natalie Ollis, Burke Middle School student

Lauren Arney, a senior at Burke Middle College, has been involved with Girl Scouts since she was in elementary school. She has been working on her Gold Award project for a couple months now, and all her hard work paid off when she held her “Get Connected: Volunteer Fair” in the Western Piedmont Community College library Sept. 14. Lauren has always been active in the community, both with Girl Scouts and independently, and that was her inspiration when deciding what her project was going to be. While taking a public speaking class, Lauren researched a speech and said, “I found out how little theaverage person volunteers, but how crucial they are. It was then that I wanted to create something that was like a job fair, but with volunteer opportunities instead.”

            Ten different community organizations came out and set up booths to inform students of volunteering opportunities, including Girl and Boy Scouts, J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center, United Way and Lily Pad Haven. Nearly 70 WPCC and BMC students, as well as some WPCC faculty and staff members, came out to learn about how to get more involved in the community. Lauren said, “During theevent, you could see connections being made, which was what the project was all about.” She plans to expand this project to become an annual event hosted by the Student Government Association at WPCC in order to encourage more high school and college students to seek out volunteering opportunities and continue to help others.

            Lauren put a lot of time and effort into arranging this fair for the students of WPCC. From planning the organizations and a personal booth, to fundraising, getting donations from local businesses, and getting the word out, Lauren made sure that she planned a great and informative event. Lauren chose popular organizations that she has worked with before and she also planned surveys for participants to fill out and enter for drawing prizes in order to further encourage attendance and support. Monica Arney, Lauren’s mother and leader of GS Troop 10455, thinks that Lauren’s project was important to her personal success and achievement as well as Morganton as a whole because, she said, “becoming involved in one’s community is vital to its growth. The volunteer fair connected students with community organizations where they could share their talents and make lifelong contributions.” Though this was her last project to graduate Scouting, Lauren still plans to continue to be involved in the community to help make wherever she goes a better place for all.

Senior starts book drive for former elementary school

posted Nov 2, 2017, 3:06 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

By Natalie Ollis, Burke Middle School student

Burke Middle College senior Olivia “Ollie” Hilton is going back to her elementary school for her senior project. She is hosting a book drive at W.A. Young Elementary School to garner support and encourage reading. Ollie has always enjoyed reading and realized at an early age how vital it is. She decided to build her project off of this passion because she understands the importance of giving back to the community in a way that will be beneficial and continue to have an impact for years to come.

            For her graduation project, Ollie is working with W. A. Young media coordinator Stephanie Price as her project mentor; Price was Ollie’s librarian when she was in elementary school and looks at her project as a way to repay the woman who helped foster her love of reading at a young age. Ollie has spent many hours volunteering and helping behind thescenes at the media center, checking new books into the system, sorting returned books, and giving book recommendations to the students visit. The school has new critical thinking and maker space stations in the media center that include puzzles to help students learn to connect and develop ideas. The books that Ollie gathers from the book drive will go directly to the W.A. Young Elementary School library so the kids will have more books to choose from.

            Ollie chose this project because of her love for reading. Her goal for the book drive is to get as many books as possible for the school; her goal for her project is to learn more about kids’ involvement with reading and also the inner workings of being a librarian. She also wants the ease of talking to children to branch out into other aspects of her life, garnering critical communication skills along the way.

Lisa Wall, Ollie’s English teacher at Burke Middle College said, “I’m excited about the project because many more children will have access to fun books that will spark their continued interest in learning.” Ollie knows that everyone needs to be able to read in order to learn and wants to set a good example for the children and give them new reading materials. She said,  “I want to show that reading isn’t boring and that it can actually be an escape to take you places you can’t go otherwise.” Ollie is taking book donations at theBurke Middle College office and classrooms at Western Piedmont Community College through Oct. 20

Senior volunteers at BUCM

posted Nov 2, 2017, 3:05 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

By Natalie Ollis, Burke Middle School student

Rebecca Parker has been working on her senior project at the Burke United Christian Ministries over the past few months. She understands that volunteering is important, so she has been working hard to help the organization and the people in the community it serves. Rebecca has been helping BUCM unload trucks of supplies and by working in the food pantry and clothing closet. She hopes to be able to volunteer in their soup kitchen soon as well.

Rebecca wants to spread awareness for homelessness, because, she said, “providing help for (others) will benefit you just as much as it will benefit them.” With cold weather coming soon, Rebecca is running a drive to help get donations for the ministry. She is taking “camping supplies” such as tents, canned foods, tarps, clothes, boots, coats, and toiletries through Friday, Oct. 13 in the Burke Middle College offices.  

Rebecca has set several goals for herself through her project. For her drive, she wants to get enough donations to keep people out of the cold. She also wants to spread awareness for homelessness, be more selfless and encourage others to be more willing to help others in times of need. She explained that although she has never been homeless, she remembers a time when she wasn’t as fortunate as she is now, and doesn’t want to take the privileges she has for granted. Because of this, she’d like to go back to her roots by being more caring and providing help for others in similar situations. Lisa Wall, Rebecca’s senior English teacher, said, “Rebecca’s work at the Burke United Christian ministries and donation drive to help homeless people in our community shows her passion to make a positive impact on the world around her.” Rebecca plans to continue to work with BUCM even after the end of her project in hopes to accomplish these goals.

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