Letter to the Editor: Albemarle High is not broken

Published 7:04 pm Friday, June 28, 2019

Editor’s Note: The following responds to June 22-23 story concerning Albemarle High.

In the words of Rita Pierson, “I am somebody. I was somebody when I came, I’ll be a better somebody when I leave. I am powerful and I am strong, I deserve to get the education I get here. I have things to do, people to impress, and places to go.”

As the principal of Albemarle High School, those are the words I instill in my students daily.

When I came to AHS just a little over a year ago, I was greeted with the warmest welcome. I could see hope in their eyes and hear it in their voices.

All the students and staff wanted was someone to believe in them, and I was lucky enough to be that person.

I distinctly remember students saying to me on my first day, “You will be gone by the end of the year.” Another followed by asking, “Why did you want to come here?”

They had a look of disbelief when I told them that I cared about them, they deserved better and they could succeed. As I stood united with the staff and students and I etched the words of Ms. Pierson into their daily routines and my morning announcements, great things began to happen at AHS.

AHS has always had a rich history of Bulldog pride, but it has been tested in the last few years with redistricting, open enrollment, transfer requests, instability of administration and the mention of consolidation.

Just as we were making great strides to overcome adversity and creating a sense of stability, AHS was blindsided with an article calling for consolidation.

The article quickly turned from a consolidation discussion to a blatant bashing of AHS.

Whether you agree or disagree with consolidation, one must always remember that the interest and feelings of students, staff and parents must be the number one priority.

Since the article failed to mention some of the positive highlights that our school has experienced over the last few years, I would like to do so.

These are not all by any means, but should paint a clearer picture of what AHS students and staff represent:

• Composite Report Card grade “C” 2017-18 school year;

• Expected increase in ACT/Workeys Assessments;

• Second most platinum ratings of the four high schools in the county — seven total;

• One platinum rating that scored all 7s in the tested fields;

• Three students earned ServSafe Credentials through Foods II;

• Multiple athletes playing at the collegiate level with scholarships;

• Multiple graduates enlisted in the armed forces;

• Over a million dollars offered in scholarships;

• Created new clubs — BeYou has a focus on providing mentors for young ladies and community service. Citizen Science Club has a focus on gathering data to determine trends in our environment, and the Relay for Life Club supports cancer survivors;

• Several clubs have mentoring/service programs at the elementary schools;

• Albemarle High School student athletes volunteer time to serve at the Stanly County Department of Senior Services;

• European study abroad opportunities over spring break;

• AHS clothing closet — Students can come get clothes and hygiene products as needed. Washing machines will be available for student use for the upcoming school year through our clothing closet program;

• Built a women’s tennis team for the 2018-19 school year — nine players for the 2019-20 school year;

• Three consecutive years with a track state champion;

• 2018 Women’s Basketball Yadkin Valley Conference Champions, 2019 runner-up;

• Consistency with football program — Richard Davis three years as head coach;

• Implementation of programs: Firefighting, HVAC, Teacher Cadet, theatre department has produced five plays in the last three years;

• Fall and spring band/chorus concerts;

• Partnerships with numerous local businesses;

• Offered an overnight Senior Class trip;

• Million Dollar Grant recipient;

• Provided internet hotspots for at home use;

• Partnered with Upward Bound Program — 22 active participants;

• Very low teacher turnover rate two consecutive years;

• Partner with Education Travel Services for foreign exchange program.

In closing, AHS is not a problem school with problem students and does not have any more of a drug or crime problem than any other high school in the county.

People have a perception that has been created. We will continue to work hard to change that and allow our accomplishments to shine.

I ask that before you point out and call out, please come visit AHS. Walk the halls, eat in the cafeteria, talk to the staff and students prior to making hurtful remarks.

You will see that each student here is somebody and each will be a better somebody when he/she leaves.

Emily Shaw,
AHS principal