Judge: NCCS guilty of excellence

Newton-Conover City Schools kicked off the school year a little different this year.

Unlike past years, the Opening Day Celebration for principals, teachers and staff was held in the Old Post Office Playhouse in downtown Newton on Friday – and as the location suggests, there was no lack of drama.

As NCCS Associate Superintendent Dr. David Stegall introduced the Opening Day Celebration’s guest speaker, a wild-eyed and eccentric woman came barging down the OPOP aisle.

“Hold on, hold on,” she interrupted. “I got a problem with this ‘schools of excellence’ phrase you all are always throwing around.”

The upset “parent,” really Newton-Conover High School drama teacher Amy Beane, challenged the statement that NCCS provides excellent learning for its students. Not able to deal with such a claim, Stegall said the matter would be better served by the opening day’s guest speaker and North Carolina District 25 Judge Robert Mullinax, Jr.

A court drama ensued, and after statements delivered by some of NCCS’ finest teachers, Mullinax ruled in favor of the school system.

“I would not be where I am today without the education I received in this school system,” said Mullinax, a graduate of Newton-Conover High School. “I use what I learned in Newton-Conover schools every day on the job.”

Mullinax thanked teachers for their excellence and for ensuring that NCCS workers continue to produce a great school system and great students.

NCCS holds the opening day celebration for its teachers and staff every year, but superintendent Dr. Barry Redmond said he wanted to change things a little bit this year – something that the large crowd seemed to enjoy as they delivered a standing ovation following the performance.

Redmond said Mullinax’s comments are significant because “he is one of us,” and noted that the Honorable Judge changed his whole schedule willingly to attend the opening day performance.

For the upcoming year, Redmond requested the teachers ask themselves two questions: “Would I be found guilty of doing my very best?” and “Will my legacy live on in the students?”

Redmond said NCCS schools are doing very well academically and athletically, noting the different several academic merits as well as state championships that have come to schools within the system.
“No one could love children more than you do,” he told the NCCS teachers.   

Preparing for school

Before Mullinax left the OPOP stage Friday, he told teachers and staff in attendance that no matter what, “those students are going to show up on Thursday,” – an arrival that school officials say they have been preparing for the entire summer.

Redmond said NCCS is “about ready” for school to start and said there are some last minute things that need to be completed.

“There is some furniture to be moved around and things like that,” he said.  

NCCS officials and directors have been in and out of system schools the past several weeks, greeting teachers and making sure everything is in line for the first day of school next week, said Melanie Elrod, NCCS student services director.

Soon, Elrod said NCCS officials will be assigned a different school that they will “take care of” throughout the year.

Before school starts, Elrod said school officials work to make sure learning spaces are safe.

“We work hard to make sure everything is clean, so we clean intensively,” she said, adding that workers make repairs, paint and clean carpets in classrooms. “We want to make it a safe place for kids to come back to.”

For more information on NCCS schools, visit http://www.nccs.k12.nc.us/.