More than 800 teachers, staff and employees of Watauga County Schools met August 16 at Watauga High School to celebrate convocation ahead of the 2022-23 school year.
Held each year in the commons and auditorium at WHS, the convocation ceremony gives teachers and staff the opportunity to meet and connect with community partners, attend health screenings, win door prizes and attend a benefits fair to prepare to start the new school year together.
Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott, who hosted the event, said that convocation was a great opportunity to bring teachers and all school employees together from across the district to meet and fellowship with their peers so the district could start the school year united and ready to serve students.
Elliott said the district would welcome more than 4,800 students to school at the start of the year — a number that represents an increase of nearly 200 students from the previous school year. He also said the school system had hired 85 new employees out of an applicant pool of more than 1,110.
Elliott welcomed the newcomers to the district.
“To our new colleagues, we have welcomed you into this team because our future will be stronger with you here,” Elliott said. “Strength in this school system comes from colleagues in all positions in every department who come to work every day with a determination to make a difference, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, something truly special.
“You are surrounded by a team of highly skilled professionals — over 825 of us in all — who believe that a system of high quality public education is the key that unlocks greater potential and brighter futures for each and every one of our students.”
The event was host to three speakers who addressed the theme: Learning from our past, creating our future — Watauga County Board of Education Chairman Dr. Gary Childers, Principal of the Year Patrick Sukow from Blowing Rock Schools and WCS Teacher of the Year Shaun Sikes from Watauga High School.
Elliott also addressed some of the tension and national issues surrounding education and public schools. He reaffirmed his, and the Watauga Board of Education’s, support and respect for teachers.
“History tells us you are in a place where you are supported and respected. Yes, we might agree or disagree, fuss and argue, try and fail, succeed and celebrate. But, in this school system we will do so with mutual respect, mutual support, both given and received,” Elliott said.
Watauga County Schools opened for students Monday, Aug. 22.
Courtesy of Watauga County Schools.