Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words...

As we wind down the 2019 calendar year, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight some of the events and happenings from the first semester.

I love the encouraging words that Mrs. Portia Routon posts at the car rider drop-off line. In the haste to unload, the simple statements help all of us start the school day on a positive note. Our lunchroom participation has increased, and I am hopeful about our next steps! Our work as a professional learning community is continuing to grow and develop. Teachers are working more collaboratively to support student learning. Thanks to Solution Tree for the professional development to help us hone our skills.

 School groups are active, and student engagement is high. From a tea party to robotics to athletics to academic competitions, students have choices for involvement in numerous activities.  I can't neglect to mention Rivercrest Voices, our band program, our award winning cheerleaders, eSports - the list could go on and on!

Community support is strong. Our political officials actively engage with our students, and our alumni are generous donors. Our graduating students benefit from scholarships from local businesses and organizations. The late Cortez Kennedy made provisions to endow a scholarship, and the Rivercrest Alumni Association also provides a scholarship for graduating seniors. It is always a pleasure to accept gifts on behalf of the district!

 Looking to the future, I think I may ask Santa Clause for some of the things on my district wish list. I would love to continue to renovate our facilities.

 Wouldn't it be great to upgrade our baseball and softball fields? And what about renovating the old gym? I guess a superintendent can dream!

During this Christmas season, I hope you will find time to rest, relax, and enjoy family and friends. Let's remember the joy of giving as well as receiving.  I appreciate the gift I have each and every day to serve this community!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Thank You

It is always heartwarming to be able to say "thank you" for the many kindnesses that are bestowed upon the Rivercrest School District. We live in a very generous community. People are willing to give of their time, their talents, and their good fortunes.

Our students reap the benefits from such generosity. Our football players, cheerleaders, and band members are treated to delicious meals prior to each home game from various folks in our community. Our interscholastic events are well attended - from football to band competitions to cheer competitions to Fall Festival to parent nights - our parents and other stakeholders can be counted upon to support our young people. The town of Wilson hosts trick-or-treating fun for our elementary students each year. The town of Dyess invites Rivercrest Elementary Voices singing group to perform during the Johnny Cash Festival. The Charles Strong Center in Luxora provides opportunities for our youth.  Nucor generously donates trees for planting and books for coloring. Papa John's provides coupons that can be used to recognize our students' academic achievements. Even individual student needs are met through the caring eyes and hands of adults in our school and community. We are truly blessed.

This past week marked another round of exceptional gifting. The district received the generous gift from the Cortez Kennedy Estate that endows a scholarship in remembrance of the late Cortez Kennedy. This scholarship will help provide educational opportunities to Rivercrest graduates for years to come. We also unveiled a bronze rearing horse statue from Don Slaton and family. This statue will serve as a hallmark of Colt pride and tradition. These tributes serve as an inspiration to all of us.

Henry Ford said, "Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress.  Working together is success." Fifty years ago five communities came together to forge a new educational path with the establishment of Rivercrest High School.  The schools have continued to come together, uniting as one pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade organization. Our continued success lies upon our ability to work collaboratively for the good of our school and community. I see a bright future for the Rivercrest School District.

As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, we have many reasons to give thanks. Thank you all for your continued support.

Monday, October 28, 2019



In August, Rivercrest High School received the Class 3A Sportsmanship Award from the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA). I am particularly proud of this award as it is a positive reflection of our players, coaches, and fans. 

Good sportsmanship is a big deal. We live in a society that is quick to anger and slow to forgive. It can be easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and the excitement of a ballgame. We want our students to have the best opportunity for success, and we get upset with bad calls/no calls. I completely understand the emotion behind the game. 

It was alarming to me when I learned of the problems poor sportsmanship causes. Officials do not want to go to hostile environments to officiate ballgames. In some states, the scarcity of officials is causing games to be double-booked and played on Saturdays. Some officials refuse to go to certain places; they don't want to be unduly harassed or have to be escorted from the field or court. Who can blame them? I would rate officiating ballgames as one of those thankless jobs; a job where one team will always win and one team will always lose. Tough situation....

Several quotes about sportsmanship have really spoken to me. 

Image result for sportsmanship quotes
"It is your response to winning and losing that makes you a winner or a loser." - Harry Sheehy

"Sports do not build character. They reveal it." - Heywood Broun

"Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." - John Wooden

During the Award Ceremony in August, a video entitled "Parent's Do & Don't" was shared. This video was developed by the Student Advisory Committee of the AAA. You can view this original video by clicking here. After sharing this video with our coaching and administrative staff, we talked with our students about a remake of this video. The students were eager to be a part of the project. This is our remake of the "Parent's Do & Don't" video. 

Click Here for Video
Thank you for your continued support of all Rivercrest Colt activities!                                             #WeAreRivercrest #ColtPride

Monday, October 7, 2019

Have you looked at your student's phone lately?

Dak Kees (United States Attorney's Office) and Cody Kees (Bequette, Billingsley & Kees, P.A. Attorneys at Law) discussed teens and social media at a meeting I recently attended. We hear so much in the news about children and cell phones.                                                                                                                                   

Did you know?

  • 85% of online teens have a social networking profile
  • 46% have open access to their online profile information
  • 84% of teens have cell phones
  • More than 88% of teens are texting. 

I don't think any us are surprised by those statistics. Most teens have cells phones, use them frequently, and would probably be lost without them.

What is surprising are some of the  applications that are "hidden" or are potentially dangerous that are on many cells phones. I was completely unaware of some of the dangers these apps may pose. You may be surprised as well.

 You are likely to be familiar with many of these apps that I have pictured.  When they are used as intended, they can be great sources of information and provide ways to connect in a positive manner with family and friends. Being socially responsible for our online presence is an important lesson for all of us.

However, when misused the apps can present a wide variety of dangers. Most of us are aware of "stranger danger' and cyber-bullying. However, some apps afford opportunities for sharing pictures, videos, and information that are not appropriate. Explicit content is readily available on some of these apps, and over-sharing personal information is problematic. Some apps will pinpoint the user's exact location, and some apps are designed to allow the user to hide information. Some of the apps appear to be innocent, but could be misused for other purposes.

Research is pointing to the problems associated with an addiction to phones. Problems such as psychological stress, lack of sleep, and the resulting decrease in physical activity are all identified concerns.

So what is a parent to do? Monitor your child's cell phone - both for the apps that are on it and for usage. It is generally recommended that the hour before bedtime be free of any type of screens. I have also read a recommendation to wait an hour after waking up before checking in.  That would be challenging for me! The website has an interesting article entitled "How to Make a Family Media Use Plan."   Cell phones are not going away, and we need to be savvy, responsible users of this multi-purpose device!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Golden Celebration

I have to admit that I almost missed the fifty-year celebration of Rivercrest High School. I was thinking it was next year, so I am very grateful that Danny and Kristy Graham put paper to pencil and figured out that this is actually the 50th start of school, the 50th football team to take to the field, the 50th homecoming court, the 50th basketball season - you get the picture. Where has the time gone??!

We are now working to plan celebrations for this momentous occasion! Various activities will be planned throughout the year, and we want Colt Nation to celebrate with us as much as possible. Our plan includes both online activities as well as onsite activities. Some of the planned activities include the following:
  • Rivercrest Remembers - We will ask you to send in your fondest memories of your time at Rivercrest. We hope to compile the memories in a digital format. You can send digital pictures, short anecdotes, or a shout-out to someone at Rivercrest who impacted you in a positive way.
  • What celebration would be complete without a commemorative t-shirt? We will have t-shirts for sell, and we will look to take a picture of the entire group wearing the shirts in a "50" formation.
  • Homecoming festivities  will include blasts from the past as well as recognizing current students. We have some special recognitions from the very first homecoming court that we are excited about. Additionally, we are looking to do a balloon release - one golden balloon released by a class member representative from each class. Details will be coming out regarding how that will be done. 
  • On-line Trivia - We look forward to seeing who can answer our questions about the school and its history. We will have prizes!
  • Parent - Teacher Conference - At the February 4th conference, we plan an anniversary-type celebration with cookies & punch.
If you have ideas for a celebration, please let us know!  In the meantime, I've attached a throwback picture.  These are my grandchildren sporting the vintage Rivercrest attire that Gene and I have from when we were students here! I can hardly wait to see your pictures and to hear your stories. Stay tuned for updates - and be prepared for some surprises! Let's celebrate in a big way and enjoy the memories that serve as our common bond.  #WeAreRivercrest #ColtPride #RivercrestRemembers

Friday, August 30, 2019

Lunch Room News

This year we are striving to make school meals better than ever! The breakfast and lunch menus are being adjusted to more kid-friendly items. The high school cafeteria has been completely remodeled, and we are now calling it the "Colt Cafe".

Our goal this year is to increase the number of meals we are serving to students each day. IF we can get our number of meals served each day to average 85%, we will be able to apply for the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) for the 2020-2021 school year. That means ALL students in the district would be able to eat free.

I need your help.

1.  Please complete the 2019-2020 Household Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals.  We recognize the strain of breakfast and lunch costs for children. Fortunately, free and reduced meals and free milk are made available to children of qualifying families.

If your family meets the income eligibility guidelines, you can save hundreds of dollars a year through this program.

So, who qualifies for free or reduced meals?

  • Households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Foster children under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court
  • Homeless and migrant children
  • Households that meet the income eligibility guidelines
    • Children in households participating in SNAP for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) may be eligible, too
    You also assist the district by completing these forms. Part of school funding is based upon the number of students who receive free/reduced meals.

    2.  Encourage your student(s) to enjoy the meals that are provided daily. My favorite meals are chicken nuggets and hamburgers, but the other meals are good as well.

    Please contact Mildred Boone for any help you might need. She can answer your questions as well as help you complete forms.

    Thank you for your help!

    Monday, August 26, 2019

    Image result for school safetySchool safety is a topic that is always on my mind - and it is a number one priority for the school district. The district is striving to ensure the safety and well-being of each student as much as possible.  We continually evaluate building access, traffic patterns, and student supervision.  Steps are being taken to safeguard all the students that are entrusted to us each day.

    We are currently reviewing our existing Crisis Plan. The plan details the steps teachers and others would take in the event of an emergency situation. These actions are  reviewed with teachers toward the beginning of each year. Evacuation plans are detailed in the event of fire, bomb threats, or other disasters. Procedures are described for situations that include weapon suspicion, missing children, gas leaks/hazardous material spills, medical emergencies, as well as severe weather. Teachers have identified not only the "safe" spot in their classrooms, but they also know where students will go if the building has to be evacuated. Teachers will be communicating this information to students in each of their classes so that students will know how to respond appropriately at any point in the day. Our faculty and staff are trained on emergency procedures to protect our students.

    Additional day-to-day precautions are being taken.  Teachers and staff are vigilant in watching students throughout the day. Classroom doors are locked during instructional time. The parking lot, hallways, and other areas are monitored by duty teachers. Visitors to the buildings are required to obtain a visitor's pass, and all employees wear an identifying badge. The district employs two Commissioned School Security Officers (CSSO) as well as a School Resource Officer. These gentlemen are well-trained in all facets of school security. Just this past year, ALICE training was conducted in the school district, and this included emergency personnel from the entire county.  New this year are Dean of Student positions - one in the elementary and one in the high school.  These are extra pairs of eyes who are helping to ensure the safe environment we want for all students.

    Physical efforts are also in place. Security cameras monitor activity throughout the district. The elementary is only accessible with a security badge, and visitors must be allowed access through the front door. At the junior high/high school, new fencing has been installed (with more fencing coming later). Plans are being reviewed to limit access yet still allow students opportunity to move among the various buildings. The district wants to take a proactive approach to be as prepared as possible to deal any situation that may arise.

    The administrators, faculty, and staff do not take our responsibility lightly. We want parents and guardians - as well as community stakeholders - to know that we are acting in the best interest of each individual child on a day-to-day basis. I pray that we never have to deal with a crisis situation; however, I want us all to be prepared. Please reassure your child - and be assured yourself - that precautions are being taken. We want to partner with you to ensure the safety of every child.