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Fine Arts Students Recognized by BOE

News Editor

The March 27 meeting of the Dade County Board of Education focused on recognition of students, staff, and schools for competition achievements, quality work, and excellence. In particular, the fine arts had the chance to shine.

Superintendent Josh Ingle noted that Kendra Belcher (special education at Dade County High School), Susan Reyes (director of special programs), and the StarKids students are partnering with Teleflex on community based projects. Recently, the students toured Teleflex, and the company noted that there are job opportunities for the students when they graduate.

Gabrielle Haston, fine arts department chair at DCHS, introduced a number of fine arts students. Haston noted the accomplishments of students at the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) literary competition in early March, reporting, “We placed in every event we entered except for one.” The Oral Interpretation Duo, Aiden Ross and J. Crane, won first place at GHSA and went on to win state.

The Literary Women’s Trio (made up of three singers and an alternate) performed their competition song for the school board, singing, “I’d Wed If I Were Not Too Young” a cappella. The students were Makaela Chance, Nayla Smith, Zoie Gibson, and Kamryn Phillips.

Haston reported that for the first time in 15 years, two students achieved District Honor Jazz band: Landon Ramirez and Sam Higdon. Three students (Landon Ramirez, Makaela Chance and Jax Higdon) achieved District Honor Band.

To achieve All State Chorus, students audition at several levels, performing a song in another language. Six DCHS students reached All State Chorus this year: Trent Dunn, Rock Chaney, Caroline Bell, Jack Dupree, Nayla Smith, and Makaela Chance.

Chance was recognized in particular as the first-ever Dade County student to have made All State Band and All State Chorus in the same year. According to Haston, “It’s an incredible accomplishment to be equally achieving on both vocal and instrumental levels.”

Haston then reflected, “Our county is extremely blessed with a wealth of talent in the arts.”

She noted many upcoming fine arts events, including a theatre project which involved multiple school levels and art shows at all schools. DCHS’ student art will be displayed at the Hunter Art Museum from May 7 to 31.

Haston noted the significance of music in overall development, explaining, “Students who are involved in music, showing enhanced language capabilities, improved memory, strengthened hand-eye coordination, better study habits, collaborative skills, and heightened problem solving. Music is the only subject area where both hemispheres of the brain are simultaneously stimulated, which causes whole brain thinking.”

She continued, “Music can serve as a bridge between each of us regardless of our background or socioeconomic status or ability. It takes careful cultivation of each student at every level. We cannot simply pluck fully-developed musicians out of the ground and expect them to perform at a high school level…As music educators, we are very grateful to work in a school system that sees the value of music education at every level.”

Ingle then noted that Lainey Page earned first place in the regional Young Authors Fair. He explained, “They write a piece that’s judged at the school level and then sent to the Northwest Georgia Regional Education Service Agency (RESA). Across 17 school districts, her essay won first place out of all kindergarten classes.”

Page received a superintendent pin of excellence, and Ingle read her essay about family.

Dr. Robbie Vincent from Northwest Georgia RESA then recognized each of Dade County’s four schools for their work with the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) program. She said, “PBIS is saving countless instructional hours otherwise lost to discipline.”

Tracy Blevins was congratulated on her retirement and recognized for her years of excellent service as the principal of DES.

Under action items, Tanner Bradford, technology coordinator, recommended using E-Rate funds (and discount) to pay for district-wide internet through Tennessee Valley Net (TVN). The quote for a 36-month contract was $224,640 down about $43,000 from TVN’s previous 2020 quote. Bradford noted that the quote from Spectrum was much higher at $630,000.

This purchase, as well as improvements to both elementary school playgrounds and the purchase of diesel fuel and a commercial lawn mower, were approved by the board.

Ingle also requested approval of the board norms and protocols and approval to move forward with the Exemplary Board Application for 2023. The board approved both items.

The personnel report is as follows:

  • Retirement: Carla Kesler
  • Resignations: Patti Johnson, Luke Bradford, Belinda Jolley
  • Promotions: Melissa Valtierra – Principal Dade Elementary School FY24 school year, Rhonda Bradford – Dade Middle School Assistant Principal FY24 school year
  • Hire Certified Positions: Ethan Blake FY24 school year
  • Hire Transportation/Custodials: Kimberly Patton
  • Substitute Teachers: Destiny Goza
  • Student Worker for Summer: Heidi Raines

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