A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Education Notes: Woodson junior Walker receives Distinguished Leader Award from LLYP

The Leadership Lexington Youth Program presented its 2017 Distinguished Leader Award to Zion Walker of Carter G. Woodson Academy.

He accepted the plaque April 12 at the LLYP graduation luncheon, held at Fasig-Tipton. “This program opened my eyes to all that Lexington and the world have to offer and all that is possible,” Zion said as the eight-month series wrapped up.

Class members nominate candidates for the award, and the program’s steering committee selects the winner, who receives a $1,000 scholarship upon high school graduation. Peers recommending Zion noted how he always made others feel included, took the utmost care with every task, and always displayed enthusiasm and great preparation.

Zion Walker

LLYP encourages high school juniors to network with community leaders and to explore local issues, post-secondary options, career fields, and business opportunities. This year’s class included nearly four dozen students, mostly from Fayette County Public Schools. One Wednesday each month, they ventured into different segments such as government and public safety, arts and media, economic development, health and human services, and higher education.

At the closing luncheon, keynote speaker Matthew Mitchell talked about how competency, communication, and character are essential components of leadership. Leadership is not a destination but a lifelong journey, said Mitchell, who coaches women’s basketball at the University of Kentucky. “It’s a state of mind where you’re working hard to help people to achieve more than they could on their own,” he said. “Your leadership can have a transformative effect.”

Mitchell also encouraged the students to base their life on principles, not emotions. His top three are honesty, hard work, and discipline. Sticking with strong principles, “you can really separate yourself as a leader,” he said.

After each student walked onstage to receive their graduation plaque, Zion collected the Distinguished Leader Award. It goes to a class member who demonstrates strong principles, dedication to community service, creativity, good communication and interpersonal skills, and the potential to make a difference in the community. The selection criteria also include attendance record, participation, and willingness to reflect on all LLYP activities.

For more on LLYP, visit the Commerce Lexington website or call program coordinator Amy Carrington at (859) 226-1600.

Junior Achievement honors teachers, volunteers

Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass saluted its volunteers and thanked teachers and other supporters at the annual Adopt-A-School & Community Partners Breakfast Reception, held April 12 in the JA BizTown mall off Georgetown Road.

JA, which educates young people about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship, and basic financial matters, selected Elizabeth Davis of Yates Elementary as its Teacher of the Year. She was nominated by volunteer Kim Gentry.

Elizabeth Davis

“I have taught several JA classes at multiple schools, and Mrs. Davis has been the most refreshing teacher I have ever worked with,” Gentry wrote. “She participates and is active in each lesson and brings personal experiences into the lesson. And her communication with me has been second to none.”

At Yates, most of the children in kindergarten through second grade participate in JA. This year, Davis’ students have discussed needs and wants, budgets and decision making, taxes, and how they can contribute to their community.

“The sooner you can instill financial literacy in a child, the more positively you can affect their future,” said Davis, who teaches second grade. “As we adults know, a financial decision you make now can impact your life for many years to come. Students need to learn healthy attitudes about money and how their economy works so that they can make the best decisions for their futures.”

In addition, Tommy Roberts, a certified financial planner at Central Bank, was honored as JA Volunteer of the Year for Fayette County. Roberts leads the Personal Success lessons at Henry Clay High School, where he has volunteered in Jody Cabble’s class for about 10 years.

“I enjoy teaching the students about real-world issues and how to solve them,” he said. Roberts also donates time at Ashland Elementary, where his children attend. “My goal is to give a little knowledge and experience to as many students as possible so they can have the confidence in their own futures,” he said.

Roberts was nominated by Cabble and social studies teacher Steven Riley, who welcomed him into his Advanced Citizenship class at Henry Clay.

“He was punctual, organized, prepared, and honest with the students about what they are going to be asked to do in the ‘real world,” Riley said. “Some of the students in my class come from very challenging backgrounds, but Mr. Roberts was able to listen to their perspectives and help them apply what they were learning in JA to their lives.”

JA also recognized John Hibbard, who serves in Franklin County schools, as Volunteer of the Year in outlying counties, as well as its 2016-17 community partners.

This year, more than 440 volunteers have led classroom lessons in three dozen counties. In JA’s Adopt-A-School program, companies provide student materials and volunteer training for a particular school. Additional partners back the financial literacy programs and JA curriculum.

Speaking at the breakfast, FCPS Superintendent Manny Caulk suggested the greatest challenge to providing a world-class school system here is equity – ensuring that all youths get what they deserve and what they need for access to the best education possible.

“For many students, education is the pathway to a better life. The opposite of poverty is career readiness and financial literacy,” Caulk said to the JA crowd, noting, “You’re giving them hope.”

Morton eighth-grader wins geographic bee competition

An eighth-grader at Morton Middle School, Evan Winkler, is Kentucky’s state winner in the 2017 National Geographic Bee competition. He is among the 54 students who will square off in the national championship, set for May 14-17 in Washington, D.C.

On March 31, more than 4,600 students competed in state bees across the United States and its territories. Evan and the other champions each received $100, “National Geographic Concise Atlas of the World,” and the trip to Washington.

The National Geographic Bee encourages teachers to spark student interest and increase public awareness about geography. Students in grades 4-8 are eligible for the annual contest.

Ashland Elementary gets new playground

When students return to Ashland Elementary this fall, they will enjoy a brand new playground thanks to long-running fundraisers and an $85,000 grant just secured from KaBOOM!

“It’ll become a vibrant, colorful, magical place for kids,” Principal Lisa Smith said before announcing the good news at a brief schoolwide assembly.

Altogether, an elementary playground typically runs about $100,000, according to Smith. She thanked the school’s PTA, families, and other supporters for raising about $40,000 during the past three years. This money will cover a poured play surface underneath the equipment.

The grant from the nonprofit KaBOOM! and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group puts Ashland over the top and on schedule to install the playground this summer. The school hopes to welcome about 200 volunteers during the June 19-23 build week. Meanwhile, Ashland will host a design day on April 20, where students and families will brainstorm ideas and offer suggestions.

The PTA spearheaded the grant process and celebrated their success at Friday’s assembly.

“We decided to make a concerted effort to get (the playground) finished in time for next year,” said Jordan Phemister, a member of the PTA’s playground committee.

The new playground will lie largely within the existing footprint. Ashland, which sits between East Main Street and Winchester Road, doesn’t have much room but plans to make the most of the shaded area behind the building.

“We are landlocked with a lot of sheltered space, but it’s really bland. We’ll brighten that up,” said Smith, who mentioned possible murals on the walls, games painted on the playground surface, and a music garden. “It’ll really connect to our arts focus.”

LTMS, Hayes students receive kudos from DAR

Five FCPS students earned state-level ribbons in the 2017 Junior American Citizens Contest, which was sponsored locally by the Bryan Station Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. 

The theme for their art and writing entries was “Our National Parks: 100 Years of Service to America.”

Sixth-graders from Lexington Traditional Magnet School:

Emily Martinez, first place, stamp design;
Lucius Jackson, third place, stamp design.
Eighth-graders from Edythe Hayes Middle School:
Lana Newkirk, second place, stamp design;
Alex Herman, second place, poster;
Wesley Davis, second place, short story.

As a first-place winner, Emily was also recognized April 1 during the Kentucky DAR’s annual conference in Lexington.
The citizens contest, which is open to grades K-12, has several categories (by grade) including poster, stamp design, photo essay, banner, short story, and poetry. DAR also supports the American History Essay Contest (grades 5-8) and the Christopher Columbus Contest (grades 10-12). 

Students first compete at the DAR chapter level, with winners advancing to state competition. First-place state winners next enter the regional contest, and those winners then advance for national judging.

From FCPS Communications

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