From Desk of Avery County Schools Supt. David Burleson

Published Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Feb. 11, 2014. From the Desk of Avery County Schools Supt. David Burleson

To the Editor,

A truth about our weather is that if you don’t like it, just stay around for a little bit and it will change. We have sure seen a lot of changing over the last several weeks that has played havoc with our school schedule. We do greatly appreciate the patience of our staff, students and our parents. Our hope is the next few weeks will bring warmer, dryer weather, but based on our forecast that does not look promising.

Supt. Burleson

Supt. Burleson

Many may ask, “Why is school closed today”?  The basic answer is, because it is not safe for travel, especially for teenagers to drive to school.  While the goal and desire for the Avery County Schools is to graduate every student college or career ready, the safety of our students and staff must take top priority. We will always err on the side of safety when it comes to the decision to close school due to inclement weather or other hazardous situations.   The process to close schools is an effort made by a team of individuals following a certain protocol:  the process usually begins days before by monitoring the weather reports to eliminate surprises in the weather forecast; getting advice from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the Avery Sheriff’s Department, Avery Communications and the North Carolina Highway Patrol; and the national and local weather centers.

When there is a chance of inclement weather, the day begins around 3 a.m. with school system personnel driving assigned routes around the county.  At this time we are also checking with DOT, Avery Communications, the Sheriff’s Department and the NC Highway Patrol. The process takes time and involves much of prayer. It is also important to understand that our buses have difficulty starting and operating when the temperatures reach single digits.

As of Feb. 7, here is where we stand with our calendar.  First of all, the North Carolina General Assembly changed the calendar legislation from requiring 180 days and 1000 instructional hours to requiring 185 days or 1025 instructional hours.  Being able to have 185 days or 1025 hours allows school systems to put in extra time or in, essence, “bank time” in order to fulfill the requirements of the legislation.  Due to the fact that our school system was not allowed to start as early as we normally do, we opted to do the 185 days of instruction which allowed us to schedule 1089 hours of instructional time for the school year, giving us 64 hours over the required amount.  In essence we banked 64 hours. 

At this time, we have missed 12 total school days, have lost 20 hours for delays or early dismissals and have finished school day 96.  January17 has already been used as a make up day and we will also be using February 21, March 28, May 26 and June 6 to make up time missed.

This leaves us with 178 school days and 1027 instructional hours.  Currently, we have added 30 minutes to the school day Monday thru Thursday, to ensure we make up the necessary time missed.  Adding this time, adds two hours per week or a day every three weeks. This can help us keep our four vacation days at Easter and allows us to finish the school year on June 6.  Saturdays are an option, and will only be used as a last measure.

As always, thank you, Community for caring about our students and supporting our efforts to provide each of our students with a quality education. 

Sincerely yours,

ACS Supt. David Burleson


MCC Early College Editorial

ACHS Student Wins VFW Essay Contest “The Voice of Democracy” 

Avery High School Senior Paula Cruz won first place for this year’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Voice of Democracy Essay Contest for the district and region. Paula was honored at the VFW convention held in Greensboro this past week.  High school students from across the state are invited to record an original three to five minute essay entitled  “Why I’m Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future”. Winners will advance to the state and national levels where the over all grand prize winner will receive a $30,000 scholarship.  This is the second year in a row that Avery High Schools students have risen to the top in this context.

Avery High School Parent and Student Curriculum Fair

Avery High School hosted their first Curriculum Fair February 6.  Students and Parents were invited to attend class meetings to discuss registration for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year.  In addition, participants were able to visit academic displays, as well as club and extra activity booths relating to student opportunity.   Seniors and their families were given the opportunity to receive individual assistance to complete and submit the on-line Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application required by most colleges and universities to be illegible to receive financial assistance for college admission. 

Representatives from Mayland Community College, Appalachian State University, Less McRae College and East Tennessee State University were on hand to help guide participants through the process. Libby Gragg, College and Career Readiness Co-coordinator for Avery High said, “We know that applying for college and graduating from high school can be a stressful time, and we want to do all that we can to make it as pleasant and helpful as possible.”  

Students returning to Avery High will begin registering for classes on February 19th.  Registration guides can be accessed on line at after February 17th at http://www.averyschools.net/ahs .   Counselors and administrations are also available to help answer questions by calling 733.0151. Todd Griffin, principal of Avery High School stated, “The curriculum fair was a success for our students and parents.  Our staff and students were able to share accomplishments and opportunities with the community that show why Avery High is producing great students and successful outcomes.  We appreciate those who took time to attend.  Together we can make sure that each student reaches their greatest potential.”

FAFSA Night Feb. 13

Do you need financial aid for college?  The Avery High School College and Career Readiness Department is offering assistance for seniors and their parents to complete the on-line Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application.  Participants will receive help from financial specialist and college aid professional to complete and submit the FREE FAFSA application.   FAFSA is a requirement by most colleges and universities in order for students to be eligible to receive money for college tuition.  Interested parents and students are encouraged to attend on Thursday, February 13, at 6 p.m. in the Media Center, Avery High School. 

The following students were inducted into the Crossnore Elementary School Junior Beta Club for maintaining high grades and promoting citizenship.  Congratulations Jill Pittman, Lanie Duncan, Harrison Horney, Bridgette Jarrell, Zack Greer, Oliva Andrews, Makaela Johnson, Aiden Cooke, Jesse Autry, Sara Grace Deel (Not Pictured: Dalton Towe, Leona McFee (Advisor) and Ruth Shirley (Principal)) 

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