Rufus Edmisten Donates $6,000 to Mabel School

Published Friday, April 17, 2015 at 11:42 am
 Mabel student Madison Welch is shown with Edmisten, Hagaman, & Sperry.

Mabel student Madison Welch is shown with former North Carolina Attorney General and Secretary of State Rufus Edmisten, Mabel Principal Mark Hagaman, and Mabel After-School Program Coordinator Patricia Sperry.

Former North Carolina Attorney General and Secretary of State Rufus Edmisten has donated $6,000 to help families pay attendance fees for the Mabel Elementary School Extended Learning Center (afterschool) program, the seventh year in a row in which he has made a substantial donation for this purpose. This year’s gift is the largest single contribution ever received by any afterschool program in the Watauga County Schools, topping the $5,000 gifts Edmisten made to Mabel in 2013 and 2014.

He presented the donation to Mabel Principal Mark Hagaman during a student assembly Friday afternoon in the school gym. Hagaman introduced Edmisten to students as “a true friend of Mabel School and a worldwide traveler, a man who started right here in Watauga County and who has gone far and achieved much in life. He played football on the same fields and fished in the same streams as many of you, and grew up to be world famous.”

Edmisten’s visit came at the conclusion of a week in which the school gave special emphasis to college readiness and the value of college. His remarks in the assembly served to reinforce the week’s focus on higher education, and he used his time to drive home the points that college is important to everyone and achievable by anyone willing to work for it. He told the students about growing up on a Watauga County farm where his family raised cattle and grew tobacco and cabbage, and where he learned the value of hard work. “Everybody in this room should be preparing to go to college because it’s possible for everyone. You really can do it if you try hard enough.”

Edmisten has first-hand experience to back up his advice to students, having worked in a fast food restaurant and performed yard work to help pay his bills in college. He graduated with honors from UNC-Chapel Hill and went on to complete a law degree at George Washington University.

Before concluding his remarks and taking questions from students, Edmisten offered students tips on handling job interviews and stressed the importance of good manners, good posture, and correct grammar and language to make a good first impression on employers. He told students they should expect to succeed because “every one of you has something special about you.”

He also took a few moments to praise Mabel as a great school, with a special focus on the afterschool program and its long time Program Coordinator Patricia Sperry. “This program is known all over the state, and I was told by someone in Raleigh that Mabel has the very best afterschool program in NC.”

The statewide reputation of Mabel’s afterschool program has roots on the local level, where the program has won recognition on several occasions. Sperry has twice been selected as the school system’s afterschool Program Coordinator of the Year, the only person to win this honor more than once, and Mabel was the first program in Watauga County to attain a rated license from the NC Division of Child Development. It achieved a four star license in 2010 and then became the first program to attain a five star license – the highest possible rating – in October of 2012.

In addition to his generous grants to Mabel, Edmisten’s Foundation for Good Business also awards funds to help high school students attend college. These donations have assisted students at high schools across North Carolina, including Watauga High School. Asked by a Mabel student how much money the Foundation has donated altogether, Edmisten replied that the total was now about $2 million.

Mabel Principal Mark Hagaman said Edmisten’s donations are extremely important to the afterschool program and the families it serves. “Mr. Edmisten’s kind and generous donations have revitalized and enriched Mabel’s Extended Learning Center. We are indeed fortunate to have such an energetic and far-sighted friend of the school community.”

Edmisten was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1984 and won national attention as chief legal counsel to U.S. Senator Sam Ervin on the Senate Watergate Committee. In the latter role, he personally served the subpoena for the Watergate tapes to President Richard Nixon, a key development in the investigation that eventually led to Nixon’s resignation in August of 1973. Edmisten currently lives in Raleigh where he is an attorney in the firm of Edmisten, Webb, and Moore.

Rufus Edmisten hands the check to Mark Hagaman  as a delighted Patricia Sperry looks on

Rufus Edmisten hands the check to Mark Hagaman
as a delighted Patricia Sperry looks on

Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott with Edmisten

Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott with Edmisten

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