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True North Stories

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By Susan Shinn Turner

Ben King’s four years at North Rowan High School have brought their share of challenges, but fun, too. Sometimes at the same time. 

“My sophomore year, I had Mr. Yoder for AP European History,” Ben says. “It was the class that challenged me the most. It challenged me, but it was fun, too.” 

King counts Yoder among his favorite teachers, as well as Mrs. Vanderslice, Mr. Castro, and Mrs. Alexander. 

“We are diverse,” he says of the North community. “We all get along. We’re a big family.”

At North, he’s participated in Theater Club for three years and is president this year; Key Club, National Honor Society, and Crosby Scholars. He’s also the president of the Robotics Club, in its second year at North. 

As a student leader, he says, “I’ve learned how to plan and how to put things together for other people.”

As far as the fall, King is looking at Catawba College as his parents, Jay and Kelly Baker, are both alumni. He plans to study political science and go to law school. 

He’s active in his church, First Baptist Church of Salisbury, where he is a member of the youth group. He’s been on mission trips to Guyana, Montana, and Washington, D.C.


By Susan Shinn Turner

Freshmen Mackenzie Finsel, Trinity Lineberry, and Aniya O’Neal were asked to create artwork for a documentary premiering in this Wednesday at Livingstone College. 

It’s been an exciting project. 

“Stressful,” Trinity says.

“Nervewracking,” Mackenzie says. “But if you get your artwork out there, people notice.”

Adds Trinity, “Mr. Johnson told us what he wanted and we put it into our own way.” 

The students talked about ideas together, but worked separately. All three keep several sketchbooks in their book bags, drawing whenever they have a free moment. 

Aniya first put ideas into a sketchbook and drew over it digitally. Each artist prefers different software programs to help them build their art. 

Both Trinity and Mackenzie also showcase their art on Instagram. 

Even though they all have libraries of their work, Aniya says that looking over work she did in sixth grade can be “painful.” 

Of the project, she says, “I like to do something fun and something productive. It’s just good to express yourself in high school.”

McKenzie adds, “That’s where you get your spark to do what you want to do.” 

Trinity says that the sketchbooks are a “nice motivation. They’re a way to remind yourself that you’re improving and not at a standstill.”


By Susan Shinn Turner

Kaitlyn Taylor was an eighth-grader at North Rowan Middle School, but attended East Rowan High School until the first quarter of her junior year. Now, she’s about to finish her high school career at North.

“I knew everybody when I come back,” Kaitlyn says. “The teachers here have taken time out of their day to help me. My learning experience has been wonderful. Part of school is to be engaged with people. This has been a good learning environment for me. The teachers genuinely care about helping students.

Kaitlyn says she comes to school to learn more than to socialize.

“I really like history,” she says. “I took Honors American History with Mr. Yoder and I loved his class. It was my first history class here. He made me realize I have a lot of perseverance. I knew I always had a work ethic, but he brought it out in me.”

At North, she’s been a member of the Key Club and yearbook staff. She’s also been assisting CCAC students who take theater.

“I took it on for Mrs. Alexander, and I have loved it so far,” she says.

Kaitlyn is the daughter of Rebecca Pendergrass, and her younger siblings are Zoe Rutherford, an eighth-grader at Knox Middle School, and Alex Rutherford, a sixth-grader.

When she’s not in school, Kaitlyn is working.

“I like to have my own money,” she says.

She also likes hanging out with her best friend and her family.

After graduation, Kaitlyn plans to study nursing at a community college, then receive a four-year pediatric oncology degree from Wake Forest University.

She says she was inspired by show “Gray’s Anatomy.”


By Susan Shinn Turner

Jordan Goodine built many friendships and relationships during his four years at North Rowan High School, but some of his family members laid some groundwork for him, too.

“My dad worked here 10 years, and my brother, Javin, graduated in 2017,” says Jordan, the son of Rodney and Bridgette Goodine. His mom works at Southeast Middle School.

“It’s just a tight-knit community,” he says.

His favorite class was an internship this past fall with Mr. Johnson. He learned to take pictures and shoot and edit video in preparation for a documentary, which will premiere Jan. 29 at Livingstone College.

At North, he says, he’s learned to persevere and overcome adversity. “People don’t realize the good things that go on here.”

At North, he’s played baseball and football and participated in FCA and SGA. This year, he’s student body president.

“I’m learning how to work with people, how to talk to people and learn about their thoughts and actions,” he says.

The student government was responsible for putting together homecoming in the fall.

“That went well,” he notes. “We had a lot of fun doing it.”

Jordan will enter Catawba College this fall, where he plans to play football and baseball. He will major in criminal justice. Later, he wants to enter the Air Force and eventually work for Homeland Security or the FBI.

When not at school, Jordan enjoys reading and watching the History Channel.

Here’s his parting advice for underclassmen: “Continue to work hard, strive for greatness, explore your options, and keep an open mind.”


By Susan Shinn Turner

Ask Deontrey Fair what he’s enjoyed most about his four years at North Rowan High School and he says, “Oooh! Probably the teachers. They’ve been pretty fun.” 

He’s participated in JROTC all four years and was crowned JROTC king at the organization’s formal. He also serves as captain. 

He enjoys “just being in that class overall. I’ve learned great values I’m going to use in life.”

Joining the Army is definitely an option, Deontrey says. He’s also looking at playing college football. 

“I want to study engineering to do underground wiring,” he says. “You meet great people and it’s great pay.”

He counts Mrs. Brannon, Mrs. Crouse, and Sgt. Smith among his favorite teachers. 

“The fact they are trying to improve things means a lot to me,” he says. “This is a good high school and I’ve had a good senior experience. The sports are all good, too.”

While at North, Deontrey has played football, wrestling and track. He’s doing winter indoor track now. 

His mom is Rachelle Coon and his older sister is Loreal Fair. When not at school, he enjoys swimming and motivating friends who are having problems. 

Maybe there’s a future for him as a motivational speaker?

“It could be an option,” he says.


By Susan Shinn Turner

As job coach at North Rowan High School, Bonnie Goodlett Krider works to get OCS students placed for community service hours, allowing them to graduate with a diploma versus a certificate. 

To that end, Goodlett Krider hosted a career day at North on Oct. 18. 

“It was wonderful!” she says. 

Not only were there guest speakers from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and Livingstone College, there were guests from the local agencies and businesses where students are assigned: Rowan Helping Ministries, the Town of East Spencer, Genesis Retirement Center, Family Closet, Food Lion, and Bethany Retirement Center. 

“That’s the whole thing: community,” Goodlett Krider says of the program’s success. 

Goodlett Krider has all of her students placed, and earlier transportation issues have been resolved. She’s a great encourager as far as getting students to go to their respective locations. The whole thing is a team effort, she says. 

“I have to push them,” she admits. “I’m not gonna settle for less.”

Goodlett Krider is planning a yard sale in the spring to benefit the program. She wants to get the students whatever they need, she says.


During her years as an educator in Rowan County, Miranda File has seen the students at North Rowan High School grow up. She was a teacher’s assistant at Hanford Dole Elementary, then she was a middle-school ELA teacher for seven years at North Middle. 

Now she has joined the students at North as a 10th grade design teacher. This is the second year in that role for File, who graduated from RCCC and UNCC. 

“I was ready for a change,” File says, “and I was excited about what wasgoing on here. A lot of these students, I’ve had since elementary school, and I have watched them grow. Some of them have asked, ‘Mrs. File, are you gonna follow us to college?’”

For the record the answer is no, but she is going to help them follow their passions in the design lab. 

“It is very freeing,” she says of her work. “I’m able to play to students’ passions. I always wanted to do that in the regular classroom, but never felt I could.”

As one example, File showed them Skillpop classes that are available in Charlotte. Students are developing their own classes to teach at a community presentation on Nov. 21 (see accompanying articles). 

Away from school, File loves reading and crocheting. She and her husband Mike, a detective in Spencer, have a daughter Kyndal, 4. File also loves theater, and was a part of “The Lion King” spring musical. She’ll also be participating in the spring production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” and serves as the advisor for the Improv and Drama Club.


Since the 9th and 10th-grade design classes are hosting a community showcase on Nov. 21, the art students and CCAC are working together to create a presentation of their own, too. 

Their blacklight show is about how pollution affects the environment — the ocean, coral reefs, the fishing industry, sea turtles, and other creatures. The presentation is the combination of a play and an art exhibit, according to art teacher Leigh Anne Alexander. It includes both spoken word and performance art. Visitors can walk through the exhibit while the performance is taking place, Alexander notes. 

The students will wear all black, with the costumes featured in blacklight paint. You might see a jellyfish, a lobster, or a starfish. It’s a great example of learning through art, and collaboration between classes, Alexander says.



By Susan Shinn Turner

I had no idea the scope of an athletic director’s job until I talked with Mark Woody, the AD at North Rowan High School. 


“A lot has changed over the years,” Woody notes. 

Of course, the ADs schedule all of the games, and with North’s conference being in another county, that makes it particularly challenging, he says.

Then about 10 years ago, additional training was required for those who want to coach in North Carolina, including fundamentals of coaching and concussion protocol. Additionally, head coaches and assistant coaches must be CPR and AED certified. Rowan County has a stringent process for hiring coaches. 

“As AD, you become the monitor to make sure everything is done,” Woody says. This includes athletes’ course eligibility, dues and insurance, getting officials and EMTs lined up — the stuff no one sees.

“Then you’ve got to be able to deal with people,” Woody explains. “What is important to you is not important to other people. That’s hard to swallow sometimes.”

Still, Woody says, North athletics have been successful over the years. Regarding fall sports, the girls’ volleyball team won a couple of games. “That’s a step in the right direction. And I was real impressed with Coach (Josh) Yoder, the way he conducted himself as a coach in the ways you don’t see on game day. We are fielding a golf team and came in second in the county meet this year. That’s exciting when you have sports where other kids are competing. The same goes for tennis. We have a lot of things going on here.” 

Well beyond the win-loss column, Woody notes. 

“Everybody wants to win,” he admits. “If you’re gonna play, you want to win. But you have to be gracious in winning and losing. On the field or on the court, you are building blocks for being successful later in life.”


In Ben Hampton’s heart, he always thought he’d be a baseball player. His grandfather played in the major leagues, and his father played AAA ball. Hampton started playing football in fourth grade and played three sports up until high school, when he dropped basketball and concentrated on football and baseball.

But his junior year, he realized his ultimate goal was a college education, and his chances at getting a full football scholarship were good. He did just that, earning a full ride to Coastal Carolina University. 

“Athletics can give you an avenue to pay for college,” says Hampton, now head football coach at North Rowan High School. 

Hampton definitely follows the scholar-athlete model, checking his players’ grades every two weeks. In the summer, he takes students to Coastal Carolina for football camp. 

“When you graduate, the world is getting ready to smack you in the face,” he notes. “Some of these kids don’t know anything but Spencer and East Spencer.”

He continues, “Coaches have a platform. They have the ability to touch many lives every day.” 

The West grad is in his 13th year of teaching. He spent five years at Carson before coming to North. 

“The dynamic at North is unlike any other. Our kids get along. My challenge to anybody who says anything about North is: Come by and spend a couple of days here.”

He admits that the game of football is his passion. “But there’s an extreme disconnect between what people think coaches do and the reality.” 

He adds, “As far as football here, we’ve been really blessed.” 

Hampton’s overall record at North is 40-20, and this season is 7-3 ahead of the final regular season game on Nov. 8. 

Athletic Director Mark Woody serves as one of Hampton’s assistant coaches. The two met when they taught at Carson and hit it off immediately. The coaches’ bond, they agree, is a special one.


Imagine taking 100 students to the beach for a day trip to examine the effect of natural disasters on the shoreline. That’s exactly what the 10th-grade teachers at North Rowan High School did on Oct. 23. 

“Overall, it went very well,” says math teacher Cynthia Coleman, who is co-teaching this year with Thomasine Oglesby-Keaton-El.

“The kids were very well behaved and well mannered, and represented North Rowan High School in the best possible light,” Oglesby-Keaton-El adds. 

The group, which included two other 10th grade teachers, Mr. Shoaf, and the school resource officer, left at 6 a.m. and returned to school at 8 p.m. on three charter buses. 

After the students arrived, they had exploratory time on the beach, then lunch, then more exploratory time while teachers set up the activities. 

“We had a few hours there,” Coleman says. “It was windier than anticipated so we didn’t get to do as many activities as we had planned. You don’t want to leave a footprint with any trash.”

The two activities they did do were to explore how fault movements affect “sand volcanoes,” and the paths that water takes in the sand in a floodplain. 

“The students were doing cooperative learning,” Coleman says. 

“They had so much fun, they weren’t thinking about the time,” Oglesby-Keaton-El adds.

A lot of different kinds of learning took place during the trip. The women agree that the students were able to see them in a totally different environment, and vice versa. 

“It allowed us to continue building relationships with students,” Oglesby-Keaton-El says. 

The group stopped for supper in Laurinburg at Golden Corral, where they received praise for their good behavior.

“The restaurant was great and the kids were great,” Coleman says. 





Calin Martin, North Rowan High School wins the NC Science Teachers Association (NCSTA) District Six Outstanding High School Science Teaching Award for 2019.

Calin Martin was presented with the 2019 NCSTA District Six Outstanding High School Science Teaching Award at the annual NCSTA Conference on Thursday, November 14, 2019. 

NCSTA District Outstanding Science Teacher Awards are presented to recognize excellence in science teaching in North Carolina, to teachers who exemplify excellent, creative, and innovative teaching of science. This honor is determined by other science educators and serves as recognition of Mr. Martin’s professional excellence and contributions to science teaching and learning.


Students looking for a friendly face at North Rowan High School need look no farther than Sarah Thompson. She’s beginning her third year as student services administrative assistant. Her office is right next to the front office and she works closely with the guidance counselors.

Thompson is in familiar territory. She is a 1991 graduate of North, and her aunt and uncle, Carolyn Baker and the late Walt Baker, both taught there. Carolyn Baker taught health and PE for many years, while Baker was the school’s first basketball coach. The field house is named for Baker, also known as “Mr. North Rowan.” 

Thompson served as a long-term substitute teacher at North Rowan Middle School, where she got to know the kids who are now at North High. When another position at Overton Elementary became available, Thompson and her husband Ronnie started discussing their options. They love the beach, and eventually want to retire there. They visit as often as possible. The Overton position didn’t work out, but a part-time job at Isenberg Elementary did. Thompson figured that was a good way to get her foot in the door. 

But her first day on the job at Isenberg, Principal Meredith Williams called to offer her the North job. 

“I’m a people person,” Thompson says. “I get along with these kids, but I’m gonna be real with them, too. Every day is rewarding. I’ve been with these kids since they were in seventh grade.”

It’s not unusual for them to call her Mom or Mother. 

Away from work, Thompson and her husband enjoy going to the beach and to Carolina Panthers games. They met at work and have been married 21 years. 

Although they have no children of their own, Thompson says, “I have 550 kids. I do love them. It’s a lot of fun.” 


You never know what Debbie Sousa’s nursing fundamentals students will be up to. On this particular morning, under Sousa’s watchful eye, they are bathing patients. 

Well, sort of. The “patients” are three mannequins the students work with. The students are properly learning how to give bed baths. Sousa carefully monitors their every move, making sure no body parts on the mannequins are exposed, except for arms and legs.

The nurse’s aide curriculum comes with a skills performance checklist, which Sousa uses for her observations — even noting that students should use a washcloth to “floss” between the mannequins’ toes. 

They call one mannequin “Miss Sasquatch” because her feet are so big. 

Students were to go to Trinity Health and Rehab in late October to work with residents there.


By Susan Shinn Turner

Some high school seniors graduate with no idea about what they want to do.
Not Josh Loftis.
“I’m just lucky enough I’ve got my goal laid out,” he says. “I’m the kind of man — I’ve
got to have a plan. If I don’t have a plan, I’m lost.”
Here’s his plan.
“As soon as I graduate, I will enlist in the Marines. I want to serve career military, first in
the infantry, then in the motor pool.”
To help him reach that goal, Josh is already taking automotive introduction and
automotive electric classes at Rowan-Cabarrus Community classes.
“North doesn’t offer these classes, and this gives me a heard start to my plan,” Josh says.
After the military, he wants to attend trade school to become a mechanic. His eyes light
up as he talks about vehicles.
“It’s just what I’m into,” he says. “It’s just what I do. I’ve always liked cars. I tinkered
every chance I got.”
He doesn’t have a car or a driver’s license yet, but ask him about his favorite cars and he
becomes animated again.
He’s a Dodge man all the way. He loves the Generation 1 Dodge Cummings, the Dodge
Viper and the 1969 Dodge Charger. The Charger holds a special place in his heart, he
says, because of the General Lee.
With this kind of drive and goal-setting, Josh is geared up for a bright future.


By Susan Shinn Turner


Felix DuSablon and Mitchell Croot are another duo at North Rowan High School who are taking on the challenge of co-teaching this year.


DuSablon teaches English and Croot teaches civics, and together, they’re guiding students through the big ideas of humanities.


“We want to make more global awareness for these students,” DuSablon says, “so we started grouping classes together.”


Likewise, classes in science and math are being grouped together.


DuSablon and Croot have their group for a half-period each, then the students switch classes. That’s convenient because the teachers are right across the hall from one another.


“They get exposure to both of us each day,” DuSablon says.


The classes will combine at the end of their current unit on conflict by having a class-to-class debate.


In this unit, DuSablon has talked about the story elements in conflict, while Croot has showcased its historical perspective.


“Hopefully, students are seeing how it’s combined into one unified idea,” DuSablon says.


Although he says the co-teaching is at the “fledgling” stage just one month in, DuSablon says it’s going pretty well. “We are tripping around on logistics, but as we get more comfortable with what this entails, we’ll be getting into some interesting stuff.”


He also admits he’s been more of a “lone wolf” when it comes to teaching, but has grown to appreciate the benefits of collaboration.


As Croot’s class prepares to leave, he tells them, “I appreciate all the hard work today.”


Croot notes that he and DuSablon have a blended curriculum map combining ideas from both areas.


“We see civics every day,” he points out. “Students have exposure to it everywhere.”


Just as the great ideas of civics have been discussed for thousands of years, Croot says, they’re now being discussed — and debated — in these two classrooms.



By Susan Shinn Turner


When you dip into Leigh Anne Alexander’s third-block art class, you never know what you’ll find. This morning, her students are experimenting with printmaking.


Art is all about trying something new, and Alexander is encouraging her students to think outside the box — er, paint outside the box, in this case.


“Be open-minded,” she says. “Grab a stack of paper.”


First, Alexander demonstrates printmaking using rubber print blocks. She uses sharpies, inks and paint to create prints on white or colored paper.


Next, she uses a plastic baggie on which she applies acrylic paint, then spreads it smooth with a brayer, or a small roller. The resulting print creates texture on the work surface.

One print is called a mono print, but to continue to use the ink, Alexander applies the baggie once more for a ghost print.


“Do I love it?” she asks the students. “Not, but I have created something that’s different than a regular painting.”


Alexander explains that the technique can be used on papers that already have watercolors on them.


She’s showing them these techniques for a specific reason.


“All of your artwork looks great,” she says, “but it needs a little depth.”


Next, Alexander shows students a pattern she’s made on a foam meat tray, and does the same type of printmaking.


She tells the students to spread out to their own workspaces at nearby tables.


“Get paper and go for it!” she says.


The next step after experimenting, she says, will be for the students to carve their own printmaking blocks from linoleum.



By Susan Shinn Turner


A new year means new students and new projects in Alexis Greer and Benjamin Butchart’s ninth-grade design class.


Right off the bat, students tackled a problem they experienced in class.


“We are teaching them skills they will use for the rest of the year,” Greer says. “With one of our mini-challenges, they have to do recordings, and we make them do several iterations of it.”


The problem was, she says, the sound quality was not good. “That led us to the sound booth challenge to solve their own problem.”


Students will create both a stationary and mobile sound booth. For research, the students visited 107.1 FM, Livingstone College’s radio station.


“They loved being on the radio,” Greer says. “It was a great experience to see what a really good one is like.”


“We are trying to line up a field trip to Buzzy Space in High Point,” Butchart adds. That was the vendor who provided the soundproofing material for the design lab.


With this challenge, Greer says, “Students are their own target market. We want to let them feel their own pain and solve their own problem.”


When the prototype ends, the students will pitch their ideas and select the best design. Greer hopes to get feedback from Livingstone radio station representatives during this process.



By Susan Shinn Turner


You could look for Dominique Bates behind his desk, but honestly, that’s the last place you’d find him.


Bates is Career Development Coordinator for the Career and Technical Education program in Rowan-Salisbury Schools. Based at North Rowan High School, he’s on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays. He happens to share an office with his wife, KatiEarl Bates, who’s doing a principal internship this year at North.


“We support all of our career and tech ed programs,” Bates says. “We provide work-based learning, internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing, and speakers. We enrich and build up the curriculum to make it more relevant to students.”


To say that Bates has a busy schedule is an understatement. He has a huge white board in his office that’s filled with tasks to complete in the coming weeks.


At North, the CTE program includes classes in core construction, family and consumer science, apparel and interior design, health science, and business. It’s a wide umbrella.


“This is a True North Entrepreneurship Program,” Bates notes. “We’re teaching entrepreneur principles through career management, project management, design thinking, challenge-based learning and problem-based learning.”


He cites a recent example of students in the ninth grade design class recently visiting the radio station at Livingstone College to learn how to build sound booths (see accompanying story).


“It was just an awesome experience,” he says.


Challenge-based learning, he adds, is the basis of CTE.


“I really take pride in this school,” says Bates, a 2002 graduate of North. “I take pride in all of them, but this is my baby.”



By Susan Shinn Turner


Students in grades 9 and 10 at North Rowan High School are part of a pilot program for using iPads this year.


Last year, all students were assigned laptops, but this year, the lower school students are trying out iPads with detachable keyboards.


It’s been no problem for freshmen such as Salma Munaser, who used an iPad as an eighth-grader at North Middle School.


“I use it for looking up stuff I need and doing my work on Canvas,” says Salma, who uses that program to turn in assignments.


Salma believes it’s easier to type on an iPad, and easier to transport from class to class. She uses it mostly for her exploratory and design classes.


“I wanted a laptop at the beginning of the year, but it’s much easier on an iPad,” she notes. “It’s good.”

“We have been asking for iPads,” says Emily Freeman, 10th grade design teacher. “RSS approached our teacher-led design team about a pilot program. Apple doesn’t make the laptops our students used. So it was either move up to a much more expensive laptop, or use an iPad.”


Freeman wants to make sure the iPads are a good fit ergonomically for the students.


“Mobility-wise, it’s amazing,” she says. “It’s much easier to carry around. The 10th graders are having a harder transition because they think the iPads are a step down and I totally understand. But I think it’s going to be fine.”


Sophomores Nala Hughes, Kimya Lynch and Caleb Burleyson all agree.


“It’s a big adjustment,” Caleb says. “I got used to a laptop last year. This is a big change. Personally, I like a laptop better.”


Kimya agrees.


“It would feel more like a computer if I had a mouse,” she says. “It would be better and more like a laptop.”


“I was kinda upset when we went back to iPads,” Nala says. “We could do more with our laptops. But it’s OK. It helps me get my work done. Hopefully, we’ll get used to it through the year.”


Principal Meredith Williams says that the program will include a survey to get students’ honest opinions on the iPads.



By Susan Shinn Turner


Hunter Fuller characterizes himself as an average golfer, but he’s coached golf at South Rowan High School and now is the golf coach at North High.


“Kelly Everhart was retiring and I stepped in for Kelly,” he says. “We started a girls’ golf team. This year, we won our first match. I try not to teach my golf swing. I try to teach management of the game.”


The team practices and plays at Corbin Hills.


“I applaud Corbin for how they are investing in youth golf there,” he says. The team plays a small fee to play there, and Fuller makes sure they clean up after themselves and repair any divots.


“I enjoy coaching the team,” he says. “I like seeing them improve. I enjoy teaching life situations through struggles in golf: focus, preparation, discipline. It takes knowing your capabilities.”


The girls played one to two matches a week with practices on Tuesday and Thursday. Fuller tried to work around other sports schedules. “We also tried not to take up the course on a Thursday or Friday.”


The fall golf season started in August and ended with the county match Oct. 15, in which it finished second. The team’s record was: 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the conference. Team members included: Anna Everhart, a junior who also plays volleyball; junior Madison Wellborn; Hannah Freeman, a sophomore who also plays basketball; sophomores Kimya Lynch and Reya Shaw; and Azaria Elder, a freshman who also runs track.


Everhart’s dad was the longtime North golf coach.


“I grew up watching my dad play golf but never really learned,” she says. “So when I had the opportunity to play, I took it!”


She has played on the team for the last two years.


“I absolutely love having Coach Fuller as our coach,” she says. “He always knows how to make us laugh and is very good at helping us to learn the basics of golf. Coach Fuller is the kind of person you want to be around a lot.”


This was Wellborn’s first year playing golf with the team.


“I decided to join the team to see what golf was all about and try a new sport,” she says. “I really like having Coach Fuller as a coach because he has helped me learn what golf is all about and that golf is not an easy sport.”


Fuller says all the girls improved during the season.


For example, last year was also Shaw’s first year on the team.


“She’s learning to take practice into a match situation,” he says. “She’s learning to slow herself down and be patient with her swing — which is a good lesson for me in life. They’re teaching me. They’re incredible girls.”



By Susan Shinn Turner


When Kym Melton, who teaches English at North Rowan High School, was asked to teach the girls’ tennis team, she didn’t know how to play.


So she learned.


“They needed a coach or they wouldn’t have a team,” Melton notes.


The fall season began in summer and finished up Oct. 9. The team’s record was: 7-18, which Melton characterizes as a rebuilding year as the team lost four seniors last year. That will happen this year, too.


“I really liked getting to know the girls,” Melton says. “You build relationships different from in the classroom.”


The team had seven players from all four grades, and played three matches a week, with practice other days.


“It’s a really short season but it is really busy,” Melton says. “This year, there was a lot of growth.”


Senior Kayla Swicegood was first seed. She’s been on the team all four years.


“I love playing tennis because it is a way for me to release stress from school and bond with my teammates,” she says. “The most appealing thing about tennis is that every year you can see yourself improve and grow over time through playing.”


She adds, “Mrs. Melton is a great coach. She spends so much time making sure we have everything we need at the matches and being supportive whether we win or lose the match. While other coaches would just give us a pat on the back for senior night, she made sure we had an actual celebration and gifts that were personalized for each of us. She cares about each of us and teaches us how to improve at the matches.”


Senior Chantal Muhlbach was the team’s second seed, who’s also been on the team all four years.


“It was something new I wanted to try and once I started I fell in love with the sport,” she says. “Mrs. Melton is a great coach. I feel like she treats us as her own. We can talk about anything and everything.”


Other team members include: seniors Gillian Corum and Itzel Nunez; sophomores Annel Ochoa and Mya Polk; and freshman Serenity Day.


By Susan Shinn Turner


The game of volleyball goes fast, on and off the court. The season begins in August with two to three matches a week, with practices on other days. It concluded the end of October with the Yadkin Valley Conference Tournament. The team finished 4-16 overall and 4-12 in the conference.


Then Coach Josh Yoder works with players to accommodate their other schedules for golf, basketball, and cheerleading. This is his first year as head coach after assisting Lydia Allen last year.


“I knew a lot of the basics,” he says. “That’s really where the team is.”


They are working to refine skills and continue the fundamentals to improve. He’s helping players learn how to play good defense, then transition to offense and back again.


“My players are very versatile,” he says, and are to the point of running “schemes” or plays.


A volleyball player, he says, continually adapts on the court. “They’re jumping, squatting, and contorting their bodies to hit a ball coming at them at a different speed. Our girls are some of the best athletes we have, regardless of gender.”


After school before a match while eating the supper snack, the girls watch college volleyball to find out how to further improve their game.


Yoder is also proud of the team’s prowess in the classroom.


“They’re smart girls,” he says. “Traditionally, we have had good scholars. You’re a student before you’re an athlete.”


He adds, “The parents this year have been very supportive. They bring in snacks and food after school, which goes a long way.”


Junior Bella Smith is the team captain. She’s been playing volleyball since eighth grade.


“I used to run track but when I got to high school I decided to try volleyball,” she says. “I liked it better. It was more of a team sport and I had a better time playing it. It’s just a new start and it will start to grow more.”


Smith sees her role of captain as staying positive for her teammates and being a good influence on the other players. “If my attitude is bad, the other players will get down on themselves. It’s just best to stay positive.”


Smith says of Yoder, “He’s a really good coach. In all the years I’ve been playing, I feel like I’ve improved this season with all the new techniques we have learned.”


Junior Roziah Ellis, has also been playing since middle school.


“I like the sport because it takes a lot of teamwork to actually do it,” she says. “It’s very competitive and it takes a lot of athletic skills. The wins have been good. We’re finally breaking that curse.”


She says of Yoder, “He’s a good coach. He wants you to improve and get better. It’s all about improving your skills on and off the court.”


Other team members are senior Ti’Ashia Hanson (All-Conference); juniors Zoe Eaborn, Anna Everhart, and Tiana Turner; and freshmen Jaylah Bethea, Chloee Stoner, and Kiasia Wallace.



Deborah Sousa is the perfect person to teach health sciences at North Rowan High School. Before coming here 23 years ago, Sousa was a nurse.


“I happened to hit a spell when I changed from one job to another and it wouldn’t work with my kids’ schedules,” says Sousa, North’s Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020.


Sousa says of her second career, “Truthfully, I just love it. What I teach is so much fun.”


Sousa teaches students in health sciences all four years of their high school careers. “I get to see them evolve. I get to see them mature. It is so wonderful.”


Not only has she seen students change, she’s seen the school change. “We are focused on getting kids what they need to find their passions. You gotta do what you like.”


Still, Sousa, who graduated from North in 1977, took a substantial pay cut to return to her alma mater, she says. Her two aunts, Norma Small Byerly and Martha Haynes, went here in the early 1960s, and both daughters, Ashley Overcash and Brittany Durham, are North grads.


Overcash teaches kindergarten at Granite Quarry Elementary, where she’s also Teacher of the Year.


Sousa says it’s an honor to have been named Teacher of the Year. “If you walk the halls here, you will see teachers teaching their hearts out.”


She sees former students who have gone into nursing, pharmacy, medicine, and social work.


“Our reward is seeing students succeed,” she notes. “If you get out of my class, you will have worked. I’m not easy.”


But she had one student tell her, “I really hate to tell you, but I could not have made it through my college courses without you.”


She adds, “It’s not easy out there. Once you get out of these walls in Fantasy Land, it’s hard.”


At North, Sousa teaches health sciences I and II and nursing fundamentals. Students can then take classes at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.


Away from school, she says, “I like to read and I like to garden — all those Southern things.”



This year, some North Rowan High School students will have the advantage to work with not one but two teachers per block in the new co-teaching concept.


“The co-teaching concept is one that came from our Teacher Led Design Team,” says Principal Meredith Williams. “In looking forward to the 2019-2020 year and with input from the 9th and 10th grade core teachers, the team decided we could expand our authentic work focus by teaching the core contents collaboratively. They had seen the success of this in our design labs, where Design and CTE teachers co-taught.  


“As a result, our students will have the opportunity to see through their studies all year how the content from math supports the content of science in their STEM class and how the content of English and Social Studies work hand-in-hand in their humanities class.”


This month, meet three of the six co-teaching teams. We’ll profile the remaining three next month.


Thomasine Oglesby-Keaton-El and Cynthia Coleman


Thomasine Olgesby-Keaton El and Cynthia Coleman are 10th grade teachers: Oglesby-Keaton-El in science and Coleman in math.


“We decided to team up because I was originally part of the math department,” says Oglesby-Keaton-El, who’s certified in math and biology for grades 9-12.


The two are confident about their new partnership.


“We were always sharing, always talking about how to do something,” Coleman notes. “Our natural ability to work well with each other will hopefully lead us into a really successful year.”


Oglesby-Keaton-El envisions science at the forefront of the block they’ll teach together, integrating math as needed.


“This allows math to be concrete and not abstract,” Coleman adds.


One example they note is tsunamis — students could use square roots to help determine the speed of these dangerous storms, Coleman says. “We’re going to take an abstract concept and show how it as applied as a descriptive or predictive value.”


The women will both teach each day, following an A schedule and B schedule.


“The way we are planning, our students will see both us every day,” Coleman says.


“We’ll determine whether we’ll each teach for a whole period or half period,” Oglesby-Keaton-El says.


Because both the A students and B students will be combined, there’s a greater mix of students, Coleman says. The women will incorporate the use of small group stations. Since they’re next-door neighbors, students can migrate from one room to the next easily based on what pace of learning they need, Oglesby-Keaton-El says.


“There are some logistics to work out,” Coleman says, “but close proximity was a must.”


Ashley Miller and Dana Jordan

Last year, Ashley Miller and Dana Jordan worked on a three-week class schedule. This year, they’re transitioning to co-teaching together, Miller in math and Jordan in physics.


The co-teaching concept was successful for the design classes, Jordan notes. “With the challenges they were completing, the STEM content was going to give them prior knowledge to do the challenge.”


The two wanted to figure out a way to marry physics and math through co-teaching. They’re treating both classes are one, coming up with overall themes for the year in both subject areas.


, “I can pull out any lab on any given day, but what does Mrs. Miller need for the EOC?” Jordan notes.


She admits she’s also notorious for “highjacking” the entire lower school of 9th and 10th grades for projects — for example, she had all the students participate in an egg drop exercise in which students made containers out of limited supplies.


“This just periodically happens because I have crazy ideas,” she says of her teaching style.


All students in both grades had a chance to participate, Miller says. “We included the CCAC kids, and they created the best projects.”


“It’s organized chaos,” Jordan adds.


The two expect their days to move quickly.


“There’s not going to be time for any dead space,” Miller says. “Students in the A class are students in the B class and vice versa.”


Such application of both topics, Miller believes, will allow students to advance to a higher level. “I have no doubt they’ll rise to the challenge.”


The two will be working closing with Robotics Team. Jordan received a grant for spheros — easily programmable mini robots. The math department also attended a summer coding workshop to use and integrate into the classroom.


Kym Melton and Reggie McConneaughey


When asked which side of the room is Kym Melton’s and which side is Reggie McConneaughey’s, they both respond, “We don’t have a side!”


The duo are teaching 9th grade humanities class, Melton in English and McConneaughey in world history.


“We’re going to blend our content so the students don’t know if it’s English or history,” Melton says. “They’re going to be with us every day. We can group them in smaller sections, and we also have our writing lab across the hall.”


The students will start the year with “The Odyssey,” McConneaughey says. “This will include a study of the countries that Odysseus visited.”


“The kids love Greek mythology,” Melton adds.


This is McConneaughey’s first year of teaching. He was at North last year as student success coordinator, but completed a degree in African-American history in the spring.


“One of our great friends left, and the position just swung my way,” McConneaughey says.


Josh Yoder is serving as his beginning teacher mentor, and he calls Melton “my big sister. She is showing me the ropes.”


He adds, “My dream has always been to be a history teacher. My dream has come true, so I have to embrace every aspect of it.”



By Susan Shinn Turner


On a recent Tuesday morning, AP Environmental Science students were blowing bubbles at Horizons Unlimited.


The class was working in groups to study populations. First, they blew bubbles and just let them go into the air, timing how long they lasted before they burst. Second, they blew bubbles and “cared for” them, gently sweeping the bubbles into the air. They learned that providing care did make the bubbles last longer, just as populations are cared for in our environment.


This is the third year that Horizons has offered the class to North students, all juniors and seniors, which meets at 7 a.m. It’s a “plus one” class, explains instructor Neil Pifer, science specialist at Horizons, which means it meets before the start of the regular school day. Pifer is also the planetarium director at the science center, which offers programming for students in grades K-12.


“Most people don’t realize we offer this program,” Pifer notes.


This semester, 13 North students are taking the class. Environmental Science encompasses other sciences and humanities, as well as politics, geography, and environmental law, Pifer says. “I like the course. It’s what my master’s is in.”


Collecting population data can be tedious, Pifer tells the students, such as counting lantern flies in Pennsylvania, or trillium plants on the Horizons property.


But the bubbles exercise was fun. Seniors Da’mirram Murphy, Adrian Rudisell, Jordan Goodine and Roger Sanchez all worked together.


“The smaller bubbles tend to stay up longer,” Sanchez notes. Their group’s record was 20 seconds.


The class planned a trip to the Old English Cemetery later in the week to collect population data based on gravestones.


“I’m taking this class to get me ready for college next year,” Rudisell says.


Junior Kendrick Harper is taking the class to graduate early. Tsion Delaney, also a junior, wanted to get his science requirement out of the way.

“It’s not as hard as I thought it would be,” he says.


Especially when you get to blow bubbles in class.




By Susan Shinn Turner


If you’re a fan of YouTube, you may want to look up Mallory Braun. The North Rowan senior already has 5,000 followers.


“I’m trying to get our YouTube channel to her level,” says Anthony Johnson, authentic work coach. “She’s already there.”


“That sounds like him,” Braun says, grinning.


Braun has been posting videos since sixth grade.


“I started playing the guitar,” she says, “and I was really bad at first.”


But she’s improved over the years, and now gets comments from all over the world. She continues to play guitar — she has four — and sometimes plays piano and ukulele. Her mom is a pianist, but Braun plays by ear.


She writes some of her own music, but covers Christian, pop, and country tunes as well. Billie Eilish is one of her favorite singers and an inspiration.


“She just won five Grammys and is close to my age,” says Braun who turns 18 on Feb. 21.


When Braun reaches 1,000 subscribers, she’ll be able to make money from her You Tube channel. So she’s trying to post content that people like, not just necessarily the music she likes.


After graduation, Braun — who already has her CNA license — plans to go to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College to become a radiology technician. At North, she’s taken health sciences I and II, as well as nursing fundamentals, with Mrs. Deborah Sousa.


Whatever she does, she’ll keep playing music.


“I’ve always loved music,” she says.


Braun has been taking dance at Stepping Out Dance Co. since she was 2. At North, she is in the Theater Club, as well as FCA and NHS. She’s one of three narrators in the spring musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”


Braun is the daughter of David and Laura Braun, and her sister, Megan, graduated from North in 2015. She was encouraged to play guitar by her grandfather, Chuck Wetmore.


“He loves it when I play,” she says. She’s learned “Crazy” by Patsy Cline and “Stand by Me” by the Righteous Brothers, among other tunes of that era.


“I’m never gonna stop doing music,” Braun says. “I’m a good student, but music comes more easily to me.”