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From the Desk of ACS Supt. David Burleson

From the Desk of ACS Supt. David Burleson on Jan. 21

To the Editor: 

Winter weather always creates challenges and changes for our schools. As we meet those challenges and work with alterations, we express our sincere appreciation to everyone for their patience and support as we strive to make decisions that promote safety.

At this time, we have missed five days due to inclement weather.  By using January 17 and February 21 as student days, we will have no more days to make up and will still have 31 hours of “banked” time.  If we miss another full day we will consider adding thirty minutes to the end of the day, Monday through Thursday. 

Supt. Burleson
Supt. Burleson

During the winter months when roads become hazardous due to snow and ice, our goal is to transport students, to and from school in the safest manner possible.  We realize that our buses carry your most treasured possession and we commit to offer the best and safest travel possible.  Our school bus drivers are well trained, dedicated and committed to your child’s safety.  Our bus drivers rise as early as 5:30 a.m. each morning and do not complete their afternoon routes until 6 p.m.   We believe that our bus drivers are a vital link to the education system in Avery County serving as a role model each day.

To honor bus drivers, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) has designated the month of February as “Love the Bus” month to express our sincere appreciation to our drivers.  According to the American School Bus Council (ASBC) national school buses carry approximately 26 million children safely to and from schools each day.  Avery County Schools travels 402,003 miles daily, and transports 1,120 students shared by 31 buses and 31 drivers.  Transporting students involves teamwork and effort as we strife for efficiency and safety.

In North Carolina, over 700,000 public school students ride in 14,000 yellow buses each day.  NCDPI School Support Division Director Ben Matthews said the benefits of school bus transportation are not limited to safety. As more students take the school bus to school, the environmental impacts are significant. “Traffic congestion and pollution can be reduced around schools, not to mention the fuel savings for family cars. In this economy, lots of families are looking for ways to trim their fuel budgets,” Matthews said.  Here are some more facts about school buses and some safety tips:

Fact Sheet: School Bus Safety

The National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Department of Transportation and other authorities agree that school buses are the safest form of transportation for getting children to and from school.

Some 480,000 school buses carry 26 million children — more than half of America’s schoolchildren.  

Safety features including the color and size of school buses, height, reinforced sides, flashing red lights, cross view mirrors, and crossing and stop sign arms ensure children are protected and secure on and off the bus.

School bus drivers are highly trained professionals in student behavior management, loading and unloading, security and emergency medical procedures.

Drivers participate in pre-employment and random drug/alcohol testing, as well as frequent driving record checks, and submit to background checks and periodic medical exams to keep their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with a School Bus Endorsement.

The school bus industry operates by a set of safety, security, health and driver qualification guidelines that meet, and in some cases exceed, federal and state laws, and ensure that school buses are the safest mode of transportation for our nation’s schoolchildren.

Safety tips for students:

  • Be alert to traffic. Check traffic both ways before existing the bus.  
  • Make eye contact with the bus driver; wait for his/her signal before crossing the street.
  • Walk in front of the bus; never walk behind the bus to cross the street.
  • While waiting for the bus, stay in a safe place away from the street.
  • Before leaving the sidewalk, look for the flashing red lights.
  • Never go near or under the bus to retrieve something you’ve dropped.
  • Safety tips for parents:
  • Review the safety tips with your child regularly.
  • Get to know the parents of other riders as well as student riders with your child.  
  • Team up with other parents to get involved and monitor bus stops and bus routes. Voice concerns immediately to your school district.
  • Attend “back to school” nights and tour your child’s school bus.
  • Get to know your school’s transportation coordinator and your child’s bus driver.
  • Keep phone numbers handy in case the bus is delayed or in the event of an emergency.

Please join me in the campaign to thank our drivers and transportation department for their dedication and diligent work.  For ways to participate, visit “Love Your Bus” web site at www.LoveTheBus.com.  Valentine’s Day, February 14, as been designate as “Love Your Bus Day”.  Educators also may log visit www.LoveTheBus.com to download an educator’s toolkit.   

On behalf of Avery County Schools, “Thank you, Bus Drivers, Brian King-Director of ACS Transportation, and Transportation Specialist Team for ensuring that our students are safe and cared for as they travel on our buses. We truly appreciate you!”

Edward Jones/ACS Excellent Student of the Week

Abby Osborn was named the Edward Jones and Avery County Schools Excellent Student of the week for the week of January 20-26, 2014.  Abby is a 5th grader at Freedom Trail Elementary School.

Abby is a wonderful young lady who shines both inside and out.  She is an excellent student who strives for her best in the classroom, and is well liked and accepted by her peers.  She is a natural born leader and serves as a motivator for her classmates, an excellent example for others to follow.

Avery County Schools and Edward Jones would like to congratulate Abby on her accomplishments and dedication to service. The Excellent Student of the Week award is given weekly as a joint effort of Avery County Schools and Edward Jones, recognizing the efforts of students in all areas.  This award is nominated and voted by Avery County Schools Staff.

Avery County Students Excel in Science Competition

Congratulations to our students at Avery Middle, Cranberry Middle, and Avery High School on their remarkable achievements in the Regional District Competition conducted on behalf of the NC Academy of Science Fair and the NC Science and Engineering Fair. Students that competed in the NC Science and Engineering Fair were required to make science board demonstrating their procedure and findings. The NC Student Academy of Science competition requirements had students make a presentation and write a research paper to express their findings. Winners can be found across the board in various categories. First and second place winners in the NC Science and Engineering Fair advance to the state competition, while the top three advances to the state competition in the NC Student Academy of Science.  Both State competitions will take place in February. 

The following students were recognized in the NC Student Academy of Science Junior Division (grades 6-8):

Jr. Chemistry: Austin Duncan, 2nd place, “The Amount of Calories”; Sadra Gil and Kara Lawrence, 3rd place, “Cyanotypes”. Jr. Physics: Landon Reed, 1st place, “Vertical”; AJ Ayers, 2nd place, “Elevation Impact”; Lane Johnson, 3rd place, “The Anatomy of a Shark”. Jr. Technology: Micah Bridgeo, Honorable Mention, “Weight Bearing Bridges”. Jr. Behavioral: Brook Wright, 1st place, “What Color Do Parakeets Prefer?”; Lauren Stamey and Keilah Bowman, 2nd place, “Photo Lineups”. Jr. Biological A: Sophie Banner and Cassie Bailey, 2nd place, “The Mighty Maitake”; McKenzie McLean, Honorable Mention, “Bottle Your Own Bacteria”. Jr. Biological B: Nathaniel Hardy, 1st place, “Potato Power”; Elizabeth Kitchen and Betsy Terrell, 2nd place, “Hydroponics vs. Soil”. Jr. Earth Environmental: Matt Leaman, 3rd place, “Asteroids”.

The following students were recognized in the NC Student Academy of Science Senior Division (grades 9-12):

Sr. Earth Environmental: Alexis Hayes, 1st place, “Testing Soil for Best Water Retention, Capacity, and Grass Seed Germination”; Jeremiah Vance and Greyson Stafford, 3rd place, “Fertilization Rates on Rye Grass”; John Clark and Trevor Wright, Honorable Mention, “The Wright Choice for Boxwood Blight”. Sr. Mathematics: Carson Williams, 1st place, “Geodesic Dome House”. Sr. Chemistry: Charlie Brown and Liam Hoffman, 1st place, “Testing the Hardness and Toughness of Steel”; Laura Cole and Sarah Cleary, 2nd place, “Drug Solubility”; Haley Carroll and James Eury, 3rd place, “Determining a Method to Measure BPA Released in Baby Bottles”; Sage McKinney and Autumn Sparks, Honorable Mention, “Can Topography of Road Shoulders Be Improved to Prevent Road Salt?” Sr. Physics: Heath Austin and Austin Phillips, 1st place, Does the Temperature of a Paintball Affect the Accuracy of the Shot?”; Spencer Dearmin and Coleman Bailey, 2nd place, “Putting Intermolecular Forces to Work”. Sr. Technology and Engineering: Will Jordan, 1st place, “Construction of a Generic MAV and Evaluation of Unhinged Flaps on Landing Distance”; Stefanie Buchanan, 2nd place, “Personal GPS Emergency Tracking Device”. Sr. Biological: Jessica Tufts, 2nd place, “The Effect of Different Foods on Cockroaches”; Raina Wiseman, 3rd place, “Keep Your Family in the Toe”; Lindsay Wiseman and Jacob Wiseman, Honorable Mention, “Effect of Rain on the Sugar Content of Red Wine Grapes”. Sr. Behavioral: Symphony Mullins, 1st place, “Musical Memories”; Jared Jaynes, Lindsey Reed, and Kayla Barnard, 2nd place, “Whiter Than White”; Nick Green and Rick Daniels, 3rd place, “Reaction Time and Peppermint”; Jodi Poore and Ashley Poore, Honorable Mention, “Self Esteem: Athletes vs. Non-Athletes”.

The following students were recognized in the NC Science and Engineering Fair Junior Division (grades 6-8): 

Jr. Biological B: Sophie Banner and Cassie Bailey, 3rd place; Dawson Buchanan, 2nd place. Jr. Physics: AJ Ayers, Honorable Mention. Jr. Technology and Engineering: Blake Williams, 2nd place.

The following students were recognized in the NC Science and Engineering Fair Senior Division (grades 9-12):

Sr. Biological A: Jessica Tufts, Honorable Mention. Sr. Biological B: Nick Green and Rick Daniels, 2nd place. Sr. Chemistry: Brett Haas, 2nd place; Sage McKinney and Autumn Sparks, Honorable Mention. Sr. Earth Environmental: Alexis Hayes, 1st place; Jeremiah Vance and Greyson Stafford, 2nd place. Sr. Physics: Coleman Bailey and Spencer Dearmin, 1st place. Sr. Technology and Engineering: Will Jordan, 1st place.

Avery County Schools are proud to boast the achievements of our students. Thank you for all of your hard work in and out of the classroom. We appreciate all of the support our students received by parents and teachers throughout.


David Burleson