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Dear Parents and Community, As we take this opportunity to reflect on all of the positive things happening in our schools, let me be the first to thank you for your continued support and involvement in your school-community. Our schools strive for innovation in their approach to learning, our students are producing outstanding results in the classroom, and our teachers and staff are working diligently to provide a safe and healthy environment for our students. It is an exciting year for Arkadelphia. Arkadelphia Public Schools was recently named as one of six districts in Arkansas to the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Roll. This distinct honor is a direct result of the Arkansas Advanced Initiative in Mathematics and Science (AAIMS) and the outstanding work of our 50 AP and Pre-AP certified teachers in Arkadelphia. Our AAIMS program has increased the number of students enrolling in AP courses at Arkadelphia High School and has increased the number of students with a score of 3 or better on the AP exams. We are proud of this honor and share this recognition with our community. In January, the district hosted an accreditation team from AdvancED (formerly North Central Association), an internationally recognized organization designed to ensure a challenging curriculum and an engaging environment for students from PreK-12th grade. We celebrate the continued accreditation recommendation by the team and look forward to reviewing our ‘positive practices’ and ‘opportunities for continuous improvement’ over the next five years. Finally, our students are not only demonstrating extraordinary accomplishments in the classroom, but also through extracurricular activities, athletics and the arts. We are proud of our students, parent boosters, sponsors, directors and coaches for these outstanding accomplishments and partnerships. We hope you enjoy the Winter 2013 edition of the Voice – it is a true testament to the outstanding young people of our community! Go Badgers! Sincerely, Donnie Whitten, Ed.S. Superintendent




Achieving AdvancED

In 1923, Arkadelphia High School was the first school west of the Mississippi River to achieve this prestigious accreditation. Since that time, the entire district has received this honor. APS greeted the new year with an on-site visit of AdvancED reviewers and these are their findings from an in-depth examination of our schools.

Superintendent Donnie Whitten Communications Director Sean Ruggles Communications Intern Nicole McPhate


Campus Safety

Clark County Sheriff Jason Watson and Arkadelphia Police Chief Al Harris joined campus staff meetings to discuss the safety of our campuses as part of an ongoing effort by APS to be proactive in safeguarding our schools.


Attacking responsibilities not just a seasonal theme


More students are taking, and passing, AP classes

Band steals show at War Memorial

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Teachers of the Year



Badger Pride Marching Band dominates competition

Badger Football coach reflects on 2012

Phone - (870) 246-5564 x1214


The first round of AHS graduates who utilized the Arkadelphia Promise are staying in college ahead of the state average. Financial planning for college can be a daunting task, but the Promise, in addition to funding scholarships, offers assistance through various means of counseling and APS campus visits.

APS earns place on ‘Honor Roll’

E-mail - sean.ruggles@

Promise: More than Money

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District unites on critical message “This group of dedicated educators represents the excellence that is present on all of our campuses.”

Go Big Blue!

Badger and Lady Badger athletes continue hard work

Campus Updates

News from the individual APS campuses

Arkadelphia Public Schools Voice is a publication of the Arkadelphia Public Schools Communications Department. Questions regarding this publication may be directed to:

Mail - Arkadelphia Public Schools attn: Dept. of Comm. 235 N. 11th St. Arkadelphia, AR 71923

Arkadelphia Public Schools Board of Education


Dr. Jeff Root, President Dr. Kenneth G. Harris, Jr., Vice President Dr. Shelly Perrin, Secretary Karrie Goodman


Billy Groom Terri King Rodney Moore

Cover photo and photos accompanying band story courtesy Gary Gerber

Achieving AdvancED Arkadelphia Public Schools is proud to announce that as of January’s completion of the 2013 AdvancED review, the district is being recommended for accreditation to the AdvancED national governing board. In 1923, Arkadelphia High School became the first high school west of the Mississippi River to be accredited by the North Central Accreditation Commission. By the 1986, every campus in the Arkadelphia Public Schools reached, and has maintained, this prestigious accreditation. Since that time, the separate, regional accrediting bodies joined together to form AdvancED. The AdvancED accreditation process is undergone voluntarily by the district every five years, and is done in addition to the mandatory state accreditation. Also, APS is the first district to face the accreditation challenge in the most recent cycle of school-system reviews. “This is a much different process than what the state does in their visit,” APS Superintendent Donnie Whitten said. “The state visit is primarily about meeting specific requirements, such as student to teacher ratios and staff qualifications. The AdvancED team evaluates the instructional quality and learning environments present in our classrooms and then provides insightful suggestions for improvements, and reinforces our current strengths.” During the on-site external review, team members visited five of APS’s campuses and interviewed 5 board members, 13 administrators, 62 teachers, 6 support staff, 33 parents, and 32 students for a total of 151 stakeholders. Using their five primary standards of 1) Purpose and direction, 2) Governance and Leadership, 3) Resources and support systems, 4) Using results for continuous improvement, and 5)


Teaching and assessing for learning, the team compiled an exit review of their conclusions. Lead evaluator and retired superintendent Dr. William Rivenbark called the standards “the heart of the evaluation process” while he was delivering the final report to the district in a special session school board meeting on Wednesday. According to the AdvancED team’s findings, and outlined in their official exit review, APS’s six most “powerful practices” are: 1. The leadership and staff at all levels of the system foster a culture consistent with the system’s purpose and direction. 2. The system implements a mentoring and induction program that sets high expectations and requires the participation of all new teachers, both new to the profession and new to the system. 3. All staff members participate in a rigorous, continuous program of professional development that is aligned with the system’s purpose and direction and includes opportunities

The results of our AdvancEd external review reinforces the district’s effort to produce college and career ready graduates. The results our schools receive each year in terms of student achievement shows our district is moving in the right direction.

-Donnie Whitten

APS Superintendent

for development based on individual needs to improve instruction, student learning, and conditions that support learning. 4. The Arkadelphia Public Schools has a comprehensive, systematic process to recruit, employ, and retain qualified professional and support staff. 5. The system continuously strives to provide services that support post-secondary opportunities for its students through a community supported scholarship program known as The Arkadelphia Promise. 6. The use of “data walls” in the Arkadelphia schools is outstanding in the way that it visually presents achievement data to the staff for ongoing analysis. In addition, four positive “themes” found to exist within the district are: 1. Schools are focused on using data to improve test scores. 2. The system values the importance of professional development. 3. The leadership of the Arkadelphia Public Schools is willing and eager to be innovative. 4. The Arkadelphia community is very proud of the fact that its leading industry is education. “The results of our AdvancEd external review reinforces the district’s effort to produce college and career ready graduates,” Whitten said. “The results our schools receive each year in terms of student achievement shows our district is moving in the right direction. I would personally like to thank our board, administrative team, staff, students and parents for their continued work and support on behalf of our schools. It is an honor to continue our strong partnership with AdvancEd.” Recommendations for improvement in the APS system were outlined in the

Dr. William Rivenbark, lead evaluator for the AdvancED team which recently reviewed the Arkadelphia Public Schools, presents the team’s official exit report during a special session of the Board of Education. “required actions” of the exit review. “Our recommendations are reflected in the final report as the ‘required actions’,” Rivenbark said. “In the spirit of continuous improvement, all institutions we review receive a set of required actions, because not matter how good you are, you can always improve.” APS must address these areas within a two-year time frame in order to maintain their accreditation status: 1. Engage in a systematic, inclusive, and comprehensive process to review, revise, and communicate a system-wide purpose for student success. 2. Design and implement a plan for leadership to effectively engage internal and external stakeholders in support of the system’s purpose and direction. 3. Design and implement structures in all schools that ensure each student is well known by at least one adult advocate in the student’s school who supports that student’s educational

experience. 4. Address the technology needs of each school building paying special attention to the infrastructure, electrical capacity, and technical support. 5. Recognize that the physical, social, and emotional needs of the student population should be addressed with some of the urgency seen related to test performance and academic achievement. One of the external review team’s tools used in the on-site evaluation is the Effective Learning Environments Observation Tool, or ELEOT, which is used to “identify observable evidence of classroom environments that are conducive to learning. The focus is on the learner, not the teacher, to ensure learners are engaging, acting, reacting, and benefiting from various environments that should be evident in all effective learning settings.” The specific environments the team graded are APS’s equitable learning

environment, high expectations environment, supportive learning environment, active learning environment, progress monitoring and feedback environment, well-managed learning environment, and digital learning environment. Preparation for the evaluators’ visit is just as important as the evaluation itself. The team’s visit is an intense 4-day comprehensive investigation, but for months leading up to the AdvancED team’s arrival, the district underwent a period of self-evaluation, during which time information was gathered which helped district staff better understand their collective areas of strength and weakness. “By the time the exit review is presented by the AdvancED team, we could tell you what their required actions of us will be,” Dr. Virginia Anderson, Director of Federal Programs continued on page 15


Sheriff, Chief discuss safety

Clark County Sheriff Jason Watson (pictured) and Arkadelphia Police Chief Al Harris meet with teachers and staff to discuss crisis response and campus safety. Clark County Sheriff Jason Watson and Arkadelphia Police Chief Al Harris spoke at a recent Peake Elementary School staff meeting. The discussion centered on law enforcement’s responses in a crisis situation on a school campus, including an active-shooter scenario. Watson and Harris also visited with Central Primary School staff, and will return to Arkadelphia Public School campuses soon to talk with students, too. Watson talked through several different scenarios, including a summary of what staff members’ actions should be in each situation. Watson repeatedly assured staff members that law enforcement arrival after being notified of any emergency situation at an APSD campus would be quick. “We’re going to come running, I promise that,” Watson said, “and in a community this size, our response will be very fast.” According to Watson, numerous officers would be on the scene within a matter of minutes after receiving a 911 call from any school campus in the Arkadelphia Public Schools.


“Our initial officer will be here in one to two minutes,” Watson said, “And they aren’t waiting on anyone else. They will enter the building immediately and work as quickly as they can to locate and neutralize any threats.”

We’re going to come running, I promise that. -Jason Watson

Clark County Sheriff

Watson also noted that after a school staff member called 911, that staff member should remain on the phone with the dispatcher. Watson and Harris said that a response would be a joint effort of officers from the Clark County Sheriff ’s office and Arkadelphia Police Department, allowing for the arrival of maximum manpower. Watson and Harris answered questions from the teachers and provided several suggestions for how to improve the campus’ crisis response plan. Both men reiterated the importance of

maintaining safe and secure campuses day-to-day, staff members constantly being aware of their surroundings and utilizing lock-down drills, a practice already in place in the APSD. Watson and Harris emphasized complete cooperation from school staff with the officers’ commands, while also doing their best to stay calm. Staff members were also invited and encouraged to attend law enforcement training when the officers are rehearsing in APSD facilities. The procedures for those visiting any APSD campus were also discussed. Any visitor on an APSD campus must check-in at the main office immediately upon arrival, receive a visitor’s name tag, and visibly wear their name tag for their entire time on campus. “Teachers have the hardest jobs,” Watson said. “I openly support this community’s teachers and want to do anything I can to make your jobs easier. We train, and pray to God none of this ever happens, but if it does, we are prepared. We review our procedures continued on page 11

Promise: More than money

Above, Arkadelphia Promise Executive Director Jason Jones, joined by a panel of HSU and OBU students, visits with Peake Elementary students to give insight into life as a college student. Throughout the fall, Jones counsels every senior individually on financial planning for college (below), and then meets with groups of juniors in the spring. In November, college freshman to sophomore retention rates were reported for the Arkadelphia High School class of 2011 graduates. In the fall of 2012, 63 of the original 90 college students from the AHS class of 2011 returned for their sophomore year, which equals a retention rate of 70 percent. According to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, the retention rate for all Arkansas freshmen to sophomore students is 61.4 percent. Jason Jones, Executive Director of the Arkadelphia Promise, noted that the national retention rate is 67.4 percent. “It is great to see that our students are staying in college at a rate more than eight percent higher than the state average,” Jones said. “We know that those who make it back to college for their sophomore year are much more likely to finish, so this is a big step to a degree for these students.” The AHS class of 2011 graduates were the first to be eligible for the Arkadelphia Promise scholarship, which Jones largely credits for the high retention percentage. In addition

to the scholarship, the Arkadelphia Promise program provides assistance through college advising and financial counseling for AHS students. “We are excited to know that the work we are doing to help advise and assist our graduates is really making a difference,” Jones said. “We will continue to help Arkadelphia students find the best college fit for them, their family and their situation.” Arkadelphia Superintendent Donnie Whitten also linked the Arkadelphia Promise and an increase in academic rigor at AHS to students being able to stay in college. “Our goal is to produce students who have every tool, and are prepared in every way possible, to be successful in life after high school,” Whitten said. “For those graduates who pursue a college degree, the things they need most are academic fortitude to make the grades and financial assistance to pay the bills. We are one of very few districts that do both.” Forty of the 63 students who returned to college this fall are living in Arkadelphia and attending colleges

close to home, including Henderson State University, Ouachita Baptist University, UACC-Hope and COTO in Malvern. The Ross Foundation and Southern Bancorp fund the Arkadelphia Promise. The goal of the Arkadelphia Promise is to increase the college-going rate for local students, reduce the number of students dropping out of college for financial reasons and provide for a more educated workforce.


APS earns place on ‘Honor Roll’ Arkadelphia Public Schools is one of 539 school districts from 44 states in the U.S. and 6 Canadian provinces being honored by the College Board with placement on the 3rd Annual AP District Honor Roll for simultaneously increasing access to Advanced Placement course work while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams. Achieving both of these goals is the ideal scenario for a district’s AP program because it indicates that the district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are likely to benefit most from rigorous AP course work. Since 2010, Arkadelphia Public Schools has increased the number of students participating in AP classes by 37 percent while improving the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher by six percent. More than 90 percent of colleges and universities across the U.S. offer college credit, advanced placement or both for a score of 3 or above on an AP Exam — which can potentially save students and their families thousands of dollars in college tuition. Arkadelphia Public Schools is one of six districts in Arkansas to make the AP District Honor Roll and Superintendent Donnie Whitten attributed much of the success of the Arkadelphia AP program to the district’s participation in the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science (AAIMS), which provides teacher training and incentives for students and teachers to participate in AP courses. “Our AP program is the center of a lot of excitement in our district,” Whitten said. “AP coupled with AAIMS produced significant increases in the number of students taking, and passing, AP exams. We want to provide the most challenging curriculum for all of our students, and make way for as many opportunities as possible for our


students and staff to better their educational experience. As a district, we will continue raising the bar for academic rigor and I expect our students and staff to continue answering the call.”

AP coupled with AAIMS produced significant increases in the number of students taking, and passing, AP exams. -Donnie Whitten APS Superintendent

Our data show that among African-American, Hispanic, and Native American students with a high degree of readiness for AP, only about half of students are participating, often because their school does not yet offer the AP course. We call for continued commitment to expanding the availability of AP courses among prepared and motivated students of all backgrounds. We must be vigilant about fostering greater readiness for AP, and then we must care for students within AP courses by providing support, mentoring and encouragement. “We applaud the extraordinary efforts of the devoted teachers and administrators in this district, who are fostering rigorous work worth doing. These educators have not only expanded student access to AP course work, but they have enabled more of their students to achieve on a college level—which is helping to create a strong college-going culture,” College Board President, David Coleman, said. Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn higher AP scores is an objective of all members of the AP community, from AP teachers to

district and school administrators to college professors. Many districts are experimenting with a variety of initiatives and strategies to determine how to expand access and improve student performance simultaneously. “There has been a great victory among educators who have believed that a more diverse population could indeed succeed in AP courses. In 2012, AP scores were higher than they’d been since 2004, when one million fewer students were being given access. These outcomes are a powerful testament to educators’ belief that many more students were indeed ready and waiting for the sort of rigor that would prepare them for what they would encounter in college,” Trevor Packer, the College Board’s senior vice president of the Advanced Placement Program, said. “While we recognize that there is still much work to be done to prepare students for college, I find myself inspired daily by what they are achieving.” Inclusion on the 3rd Annual AP District Honor Roll is based on the examination of three years of AP data, from 2010 to 2012, for the following criteria: Districts must: 1. Increase participation/access to AP by at least 4 percent in large districts, at least 6 percent in medium districts and at least 11 percent in small districts; 2. Ensure that the percentage of African American, Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native students taking AP Exams did not decrease by more than 5 percent for large and medium districts or by more than 10 percent for small districts; 3. Improve performance levels when comparing the percentage of students in 2012 scoring a 3 or higher to those in 2010, unless the district has already attained a performance level in which more than 70 percent of the AP students are scoring a 3 or higher.

Band steals show at War Memorial

The Badger Pride Marching Band’s show, Serengeti Sketches, was built upon African folk rhythms and is comprised of four movements: Serengeti sunrise, wildlife, cool shade, and brush fire and rain. Andrew Yozviak originally composed all of the music. Below, Director Jim Lloyd gets help from band members to display their awards. Arkadelphia High School’s Badger Pride Marching Band took 11 top honors, including Arkansas’s most prestigious marching band award, the “Brandon Award,” at the Showcase of Bands, Arkansas’s largest marching competition. The event was held at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium on October 13. Based on the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association’s classification system, Arkadelphia is a class 3A size program which should have 50-60 members in its marching program; however, with 131 members and four class 3A titles since 2005, Arkadelphia now enters as a class 5A band, which is the largest classification in Arkansas and puts them up against programs including Conway, Bryant, Benton, El Dorado, Cabot and Little Rock Central. “Our band is twice the size of other 3A schools,” Director Jim Lloyd said. “But for us to go up against the big 5A programs in the state is a real David and Goliath situation.” At the end of the day, Arkadelphia emerged with 11 of 13 available awards. In addition to earning the highest rating of “superior” in every category including drum major, percussion, color guard and band,

Arkadelphia also won awards for Outstanding Band in class 5A, Outstanding Percussion, Outstanding Color Guard, Outstanding Drum Major, Outstanding Marching Performance, Outstanding Musical Performance. Theoretically, since the ratings are based on standards, every band at the show could receive a superior rating, but only one band comes away with the “outstanding” awards. The most coveted award earned at the competition for Arkadelphia was the prestigious “Brandon Award,” which is named for long-time president and executive secretary of the ASBOA, the late Raymond Brandon, and is given to the top performance of

the day. The 5A section of the competition also drew a crowd of more than 6,000 spectators to War Memorial Stadium, providing a rare opportunity for the students performing to be seen by a large crowd. “The home side of the bleachers, 25 yard line to 25 yard line, was packed,” Assistant Director Aaron Seel said. “How many opportunities do these kids have to receive a standing ovation from a crowd that size?” Though many in the crowd were present to support other schools, competitiveness was put aside for the sake continued on page 15


Eldridge: Attacking responsibilities not just a seasonal theme Badger Football coach reflects on 2012 season and the community it united The 2012 Badger football team capped their 9-2 season program, stems from a central theme of Badger football. with a 7-4A Conference title and Head Coach J.R. Eldridge, A mark of any effective leader is the ability to champion in only his second season as a head high school football a philosophy that the group’s members will take to heart. coach, earned the recognition of Conference Coach of the Behind every successful business, campaign or team is a Year. message that not only guides their day-to-day decisions and “I think the 2012 season is one of those that people will be actions, but also creates an overall identity: “Forward.” “Real talking about for years to come,” Athletics Director Chris change.” “Just do it.” Babb said. “Coach Eldridge and his staff really got the team Eldridge is writing his own page in the book of effecto buy into a mentality of fulfilling your responsibility, no tive slogans: “VVR.” Initially, the acronym was a message matter what role you had on the used internally with coaches and team. It was really neat to see the players, but the slogan went viral town follow suit as the season after Eldridge delivered a charge went on. From to great opening to Arkadelphia High School at night at War Memorial, to the this year’s homecoming pep rally, great support at Nashville, Ashwhere he encouraged everyone down and Malvern, it was great to present to know their role and see the community come together pursue their goals with “VVR.” and get behind the Badgers this Vicious. Violent. Relentless. season. The seniors on this team According to Eldridge, these are will always be able to say that they the words that drive not only the were a part of a conference chamBadger football program, but also Head Badger Football Coach J.R. Eldridge pionship team that won 9 games the daily lives of anyone who buys in a season. There aren’t a lot of into the philosophy. The slogan teams that do that. There is a great tradition in Arkadelphia caught on and before long was on posters, windows of dating back to the 70s and through the 80s and we believe local businesses, and was being chanted from the stands at that the 2012 season could play a big role in re-establishing games. It is even being used as a Twitter hashtag. that winning tradition. Coach Eldridge, his staff and the “VVR is about attacking your responsibilities,” Eldridge players are to be commended for their success this season said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a football player, band and we look forward to a bright future.” member, science teacher or engineer, we all have a job to do. It is undeniable that Badger football is on the rise and that Even the spectators in the stands at a game have a responsicommunity support is at a level unrivaled in recent years. bility of showing enthusiastic support and encouragement. Much of the success, and much of the recent buzz about the This philosophy applies just as much to my players getting


The 2012 Badger Football team displays their 7-4A Conference Champions trophy. their homework done for class as it does them fulfilling their duties on the field.” Football is a physical, contact sport. The design of the game mimics warfare and is built largely upon opponents striking each other with their bodies hundreds of times a game. And with that said, the VVR philosophy can be easily misunderstood, but Eldridge offered a denotative explanation for the slogan and encouraged everyone to put it to use in their daily lives. “Football is 48 minutes of legal fighting,” Eldridge said. “There are rules that must be followed and finding success is about finding a balance. VVR is not playing dirty. VVR is enveloped by the rules of the game. If it were a dirty mentality, then it would be counterproductive.” The VVR philosophy builds upon the three words’ literal definitions, and flows in order to describe the Badgers’: 1. Intentions (vicious), 2. Actions (violent), 3. Determination (relentless). “Vicious leads because it describes our intent and execution,” Eldridge said. “By definition, vicious is being deliberately violent. We are deliberate in what we do. Our actions are not accidental. We prepare and practice to avoid carelessness.” “Violent,” Eldridge continued, “is, by definition, the excessive use of force. The connotations of violent are of committing crimes, but again, VVR is not dirty, and when we are on the field between whistles, we will apply excessive force. That is how you out-play and out-execute your opponent. We rarely out-size or out-athlete our opponents. We succeed by out-playing and out-executing.” Eldridge added that scripture includes instructions for followers who wish to take hold of the Kingdom of Heaven to do so violently. Eldridge insists that the negative connotations of the word ‘violent’ must be put aside to fully

appreciate the message. “This is about pursuing a goal with all the strength and force you contain,” Eldridge added. “It is interesting to note that our opponents have been penalized more often than us after the whistles with personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.” The last sentence of the Arkadelphia Football creed states, “It is our goal to be the most violent and classiest team in the state.” “We are not promoting lawlessness,” Eldridge said. “It’s actually the exact opposite.” ‘Relentless’ describes the Badger’s determination, especially in the wake of a tough end to the 2012 season. The VVR message will carry the team through the offseason as they prepare for next year. “Relentless doesn’t rest,” Eldridge said. “Relentless is unceasing and doesn’t get complacent. This is how we pursue our goals. It is how we will continue to pursue a state championship and how we will go about continuing to improve this program so that it produces quality young men.” Furthermore, Eldridge pointed out that the “Pursuit of VVR is intangible. We can’t touch that,” he said. “This far exceeds a tangible goal such a conference or state championship. Those are things we can attain, we can hold that trophy, we can touch it. VVR comes down to how we are living our lives. Every year we will continue to apply this philosophy to our lives and will, number one, be better people, and number two, win at whatever we are doing.” In just two seasons as a head high school coach, Eldridge and his staff are doing things with the Badger football program that haven’t happened in years. Seven of the last nine seasons ended with a sub-.500 record; however, in 2012 the continued on page 14


RRW unites district on ‘critical message’

Above, Central Primary students display drug-free posters they made for their school’s walk to HSU where members of the Reddie spirit squads joined them for a Red Ribbon Week rally. Below, Central students release balloons during the rally on HSU’s Quad. Crazy socks, drug walks and blackout days were just a few of the various activities that occurred throughout the Arkadelphia Public School District as part of an eventful 2012 Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon Week occurs annually and is the week when school-communities across the nation present a unified and visible commitment toward the creation of a drugfree America, and although it is over for this year, the message of living a healthy, drug-free life will continue on every campus throughout the school year. The national movement of Red Ribbon Week brings community focus on the importance of a drug-free life and the dangers of substance abuse by involving the students in activities while at school; however, for the message to truly be effective, it must be reinforced at home as well. According to, children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42 percent less likely to use drugs than those who don’t, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations.


Steve Fellers, HSU/photo

District Health and Wellness Coordinator Virginia Anderson also sees Red Ribbon Week as a time to not only focus on how drugs negatively impact lives and communities, but also how a drug-free life helps secure the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. “Red Ribbon Week, and its message of living drug-free, is part of the big picture,” Anderson said. “Avoiding substance abuse goes along with eating a healthy diet and exercising, all of

which is necessary to properly care for our minds and bodies.” In their “Choose to Refuse” week, Arkadelphia High School students and staff held “Drive Away from Drugs” daily drawings where a $10 gas card was given away, a Red Ribbon Week slogan contest, a “Blackout Drugs” day where everyone was encouraged to wear black, and then ended the continued on page 12

Teachers of the Year

Kelly Bell, Amanda Harris, Tori Rocole, Kaki Forthman and Ashley Keener display their awards at the October Board of Education meeting where they were recognized as the Teachers of the Year. Ashley Keener, Kaki Forthman, Tori Rocole, Amanda Harris, and Kelly Bell were recently recognized as the Arkadelphia Public Schools Teachers of the Year for the 2011-12 school year. Bell, who won Teacher of the Year for Perritt Primary, also won District Teacher of the Year. A reception was held in their honor on Tuesday afternoon at Central Primary School prior to their awards being presented at October’s Board of Education meeting. “This group of dedicated educators represents the excellence that is present at each of our campuses in the Arkadelphia Public Schools,” Superintendent Donnie Whitten said. “Their relentless pursuit of what is best for our students and schools deserves this recognition and I congratulate each of them.” Bell has taught music at Perritt since January 2008. Prior to coming to Arkadelphia, she taught music and choir in Malvern. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Henderson State University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree from HSU as well. She has served as a cooperating teacher for music students from HSU and Ouachita Baptist University. Keener was awarded Teacher of the Year for Arkadelphia High School where she teaches computer applications and desktop publishing. This

is her sixth year as a teacher with the APSD. Keener earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at HSU. Keener also serves as the advisor for The Ark, which is the AHS yearbook. While under her leadership, The Ark has received several awards from the Arkansas Scholastic Press Association. Forthman was awarded Teacher of the Year for Goza Middle School where she began her career in 2009 teaching seventh grade social studies. She is currently teaching eighth grade literacy. Forthman earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from HSU. She currently is a member of the Arkansas State Teachers Association and is a past Ross grant recipient. Rocole was awarded Teacher of the Year for Peake Elementary School where she teaches fifth grade math and science. Prior to coming to Arkadelphia in 2006, she taught math in Hooks, TX for three years. She earned her bachelor’s degree from South Arkansas University and her master’s degree in Educational Leadership from HSU. Rocole is currently pursuing an Ed. Specialist degree from HSU. Harris was awarded Teacher of the Year for Central Primary School where she has taught second grade for the past seven years. Harris holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from HSU. She also has earned certifications as

an ESL instructor and a K-12 reading specialist. She is currently a member of the Arkansas Reading Association and the Arkadelphia Area Reading Association. Harris has served as a mentor to new teachers and as an after school tutor. Faculty from each campus within the APSD votes for the Teacher of the Year at the school-level. Each campus’s winner fills out a detailed application, which excludes any identifying information, and is submitted to an outside judging panel that selects the Teacher of the Year for the district.

Former APS teacher and board member, Nell Everett, was also recognized at the October board meeting for a combined 40 years of service to the district.

Safety, from page 4 on this weekly.” Watson said that his office is also in the process of trying to procure firstaid kits appropriate for treating severe wounds for every classroom in the county and providing the training necessary to use the supplies. Any parties interested in helping fund the project should contact the Clark County Sheriff ’s Office at 870-246-2222.


RRW, from page 10 week by wearing red shirts on “United Against Drugs” and “Badgers Just Say No” day. Goza Middle School hosted several activities that promoted student involvement such as camouflage day, “nerdy” day and “pairs” day, where

socks day. “The Jazzlers, Coach Eldridge and his players were all a big hit at the assembly,” Sandra Capps, Peake’s Red Ribbon Week Coordinator, said. “The students listened and were hanging on their every word. Peake students want to grow up and play for the Badgers and perform in the spirit groups. These stu-

held a “Say No to Drugs” rally. All of the events combined made for an eventful week throughout the district and a unified voice raised awareness of substance abuse and the benefits of living drug free. “The teachers and coordinators responsible for planning activities and speakers during our Red Ribbon Week did a great job,” Superintendent Donnie Whitten said. “Our district stands behind the message of Red Ribbon Week and I hope that our families continue to support this critical message at home, as well.” For more information about the national campaign, visit, where you can participate by signing up for the “The Best Me is Drug Free” pledge and find additional information about the history of Red Ribbon Week and the National Family Partnership.

From WHAT’S THE PLEDGE ABOUT? 1. As parents and citizens, we will talk to our children and the children in our lives about the dangers of drug Peake Elementary Students gather on the playground to display their supabuse. port of Red Ribbon Week. 2. We will set clear rules for our childents are their heroes and having them dren about not using drugs. students picked a friend and dressed come to Peake and give a message 3. We will set a good example for our alike. Goza kicked off their Red Ribabout being drug-free is very importchildren by not using illegal drugs or bon Week on the previous Friday with ant. It was great that the Peake students medicine without a prescription. pajama day and a school dance that heard it from other students who are 4. We will monitor our children’s evening. their role models.” behavior and enforce appropriate Peake Elementary School welcomed In addition, Peake, Perritt and Cenconsequences, so that our rules are several guest speakers including Head tral held canned-food drives and spirit respected. Badger Coach J.R. Eldridge and three days where students and staff wore red. 5. We will encourage family and members of his squad, Jake Knight, Central and Perritt students also decfriends to follow the same guidelines Jaron Dixon and James Howard, who to keep children safe from substance spoke in an assembly about the impor- orated posters with anti-drug slogans, and Central students displayed theirs abuse. tance of staying drug free. Goza Midon a walk to the Henderson State UniI PLEDGE TO SET GUIDELINES dle School’s Jazzlers also performed versity campus where members of the TO HELP CHILDREN GROW UP in the assembly. Students also particiReddie spirit squads joined them and SAFE, HEALTHY AND DRUG-FREE. pated in themed-days such as “crazy”


Badger and Lady Badger Athletics AHS BASKETBALL The Badger and Lady Badger basketball teams are rounding the corner toward the home stretch of the 2012-13 season as post-season play is here. Arkadelphia will host the 4A South Regional basketball tournament February 20-23 at Bill Vining Arena on the campus of Ouachita Baptist University. The tournament will feature the top four finishers from the 7-4A and 8-4A Districts. The 7-4A District tournament is being held this week at Bauxite High School. Playing their first season in 7-4A, AHS has had mixed results on the hardwood. The Badgers began conference play with three straight wins before Christmas and also faired well in tournaments this season, winning two out of three games at the Fordyce and Russellville Tournaments. AHS stood a game behind second place in the conference headed into the final two weeks of the season. The Lady Badgers faced adversity from the onset as key injuries forced a reshuffle of the rotation. AHS got non-conference wins over Parker’s Chapel and Fordyce in the Fordyce Tournament. AHS was also able to pick up non-conference wins against JA Fair and a non-conference sweep of two games against Rison. The Lady Badgers got their first win in the always-tough 7-4A against Arkansas Baptist. The conference features two teams ranked in the top 6 in the state in the 4A classification. At the regional tournament at OBU, the top four girls’ and boys’ teams will qualify for the 4A State Tournament which will be held at Cave City High School in Northeast Arkansas. Admission will be $5 per person from school-aged children (those in Kindergarten) through adults. The Regional will be a single-elimination

tournament with four games each day from Wednesday through Saturday. TENNIS

The Lady Badger tennis team finished the 2012 season as the runners-up in the 7-4A District tournament and qualified two individuals for the state tournament in seniors Elizabeth Teed and Anna Ozmun and the doubles team of Isabella Ragni and Rebecca Fellers. At the state tournament, Teed’s tough draw saw her facing the defending and eventual state champion in the second round. Teed won her first round match but lost in the second

round. Unfortunately for Ozmun, an injury to her ankle in the final team practice prior to the state tournament forced her to withdraw from the tournament. In doubles play, Ragni and Fellers won their first two matches reaching the semifinals before being beaten by the eventual state champions. Ragni and Fellers were named All-State and the Lady Badgers finished in a tie for 4th in the state. For the Badgers, the doubles team of Chris Dickerson and Hunter Penfield finished as the boys’ doubles conference runner-up and earned a trip to the 4A State tournament. Dickerson and Penfield defeated Gardner and McFaddin from Heber Springs before having their season ended in the quarterfinals by the eventual state runner-up doubles team. AHS Golf The 2012 season was a year of youth for the AHS golf programs as most of the squad on both the boys’ and girls’ team was comprised of new players. The teams began their season before school started in the first week of


August and ended at the 7-4A District tournament. Badger golfer Micah Thomas was the highest finisher for the boys at the district tournament, and he only missed qualifying for the state tournament by one stroke. The season was highlighted by a win at Glenwood.



The AHS cross country teams ended their 2012 seasons at the 4A State Championship Meet on November 10, at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. The Badgers entered the meet as the 7-4A district champions after earning the title at the October 25 district meet at Ouachita Baptist University. The Badgers were led by senior Devin Nash who finished second overall. Finishing with Top 10 honors for the Badgers were Matt Savage, Lance Morvin and Parker Henley. Earning All-District recognition for finishing in the top 5 in the meet were Nash, Jackson Ochello (3rd), Cameron Haygood (4th) and Hayden Joyce (5th.) The Lady Badgers finished the meet with two top 10 finishers in sisters Yerenia and Joyce Adame. Yerenia finished in 9th place overall and Joyce earned All-District honors with a 5th place individual finish.


The Lady Badger volleyball team said goodbye to two seniors in Hailea Hunter and Brooke Pritchard upon the end of the 2012 season. The Lady Badgers finished the season at the District tournament, falling one match short of earning a berth to the 4A State tournament. Arkadelphia lost to Booneville to end the season in the district tournament at Mena. The year was highlighted by exciting home wins over Malvern and Ashdown. FOOTBALL

the Mena Bearcats at Badger Stadium on Friday, November 9. The Badgers grabbed attention at the start of their season by winning their opener against Benton in the The Buzz Kickoff Classic at War Memorial Stadium on August 28. The win earned recognition for the program and during the first few weeks of the season, junior quarterback Jakahari Howell was named a Landers Award finalist and was named the ARPreps. com Player of the Week and was recognized at the Little Rock Touchdown Club. The Badgers overcame an injury to Howell in week six, bouncing back from their only loss of the season to finish with four straight wins. Junior Kris Oliver made the transition to quarterback and the Badger defense put together a string of four games in which they controlled opposing offenses. The Badgers earned their conference championship and head coach J.R. Eldridge was named 7-4A Coach of the Year at the end of the regular season.

VVR, from page 9

The Badger football team earned their first conference championship since 1995 after finishing the 2012 regular season with a 9-1 overall record and a 6-1 record in 7-4A action. The Badgers began the playoffs as the top seed from the 7-4A and hosted

Badgers earned their first Conference Championship in over 15 years and finished with a 9-2 record. The community took note their success after the Badgers defeated Benton in the Kickoff Classic at War Memorial Stadium in the season opener and support continued to grow. “To me, the community buying into our message is awesome,” Eldridge said. “The community being involved now is a testament to how much our players believe in this philosophy. The message has lead to success. It’s led us to a conference championship. It is leading us to great accomplishments.

But what is even more awesome is seeing our kids grow up to become responsible, effective, productive individuals in all that they pursue. We are doing more than coaching a successful football team, we are preparing students for life. I am so thankful for this opportunity. I am thankful for this coaching staff and thankful for the players and community buying in to the program. There are so many factors that go into success in a single football season. You can’t boil it down to one element or one coach. I’m just thankful to be part of it.”

Arkadelphia continues to grow. This year, 86 students are in the beginner band, up from 47 last year. In 2002, 72 students were in the high school band, which now includes 131 students. Overall, more than 300 students, 6-12th grade, participate in the band program. Lloyd, Seel and Whitney Smith, color guard coordinator and beginner band director, make up the team of band leaders. They attribute the success and growth of the program to an uncompromising drive for excellence and instilling that pride in all of the students. “We set our own standards,” Seel said. “Our goal for every performance is that it be better then our last.” “We continue to raise our own bar,” Lloyd added. “Every decision we make is centered on what is best for our kids.”

Band, from page 7 of showing appreciation of Arkadelphia’s performance. “Seeing the audience reaction was moving for all of us,” Lloyd said. Arkadelphia’s show, Serengeti Sketches, was built upon African folk rhythms and is comprised of four movements: Serengeti sunrise, wildlife, cool shade, and brush fire and rain. Andrew Yozviak originally composed all of the music. “It is fitting for emphasizing our large percussion section we had this year,” Lloyd said. Participation in the band program in

AdvancED, from page 3 and leader of the district’s preparation process for the review, said. “The most valuable aspect of what they provide is a means of measuring how we compare to other top districts.” Anderson also emphasized the importance of the self-evaluation, saying that during that time, teachers and administrators are able to collect, and

reflect upon, insightful data pertaining to very specific components of their classrooms and schools. “It’s similar to a student preparing for a test,” Anderson said. “When the process is done correctly, you learn the most from the time spent studying and preparing. Actually taking the test and seeing the results affirms the learning and preparation.”

Dr. William Rivenbark, Lead evaluator

Beginning in the spring of 2012, every teacher, student, and parent of a student in the APS district was invited to participate in a survey about many aspects of the district’s schools. The responses were collected and used alongside the information derived from other self-evaluation tools. Much of this data was later used as evidence by the district to support stated strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, the internationally recognized accreditation confirms that a graduate of the district experienced challenging curriculum in an engaging environment and that the district is adhering to similarly high standards that other school systems follow, and that colleges and universities expect from the schools delivering their incoming freshmen. Furthermore, the accreditation allows for consistent transfer of credits between different school systems and shows employers of the district’s graduates that those students’ K-12 education was based on a solid foundation.


Campus Updates ARKADELPHIA HIGH SCHOOL The 2012 CONE Foundation (pictured at right) processed a record of 31 grant applications totaling $61,820 of requests from local non-profits. After reviewing the requests, the team awarded $10,520 to 18 organizations. The group made up of Gifted and Talented students at AHS, and led by Nancy Mortensen, works with the Ross Foundation on funding the grants. As juniors, the members embark upon fundraising efforts which the Ross Foundation matches 9-to-1 so that as seniors they can fund the grants requests of their choosing. This years’ juniors are “Cone’ing” local business and residences as their fundraising project. The “Cone’ing” includes a Ross Foundation T-shirt

Shown above, the 2012 CONE Foundation members awarded $10,520 of grants to 18 local non-profit organizations. and instructions on how to contact a CONE Foundation member to have the cones removed, after the “Cone’ing” recipient makes a donation. Associates from the local Danfoss Commercial Compressors team visited the NewTech students at AHS to present a collaborative project between Danfoss and the NewTech GeoDesign classes. Paul Dean, general manager of the Arkadelphia plant, accompanied by various engineers and project leaders, presented an overview of their company which manufactures compressors for heating and cooling units. The Arkadelphia plant was also recently given responsibility for operations at Danfoss’ Mexico and Brazil locations. Dean outlined how their plant is transitioning to paperless operations and the communication implications of that process. One key component of their daily operating procedures are Manufacturing Change Communications, or MCC’s, which essentially make sure everyone at the plant is on the same page and aware of the most recent modifications to any process. Over


350 MCC’s were distributed in 2012, and each varies, but could be four or five pages in length. The GeoDesign class will design an e-form version of the MCC template and design a system for digital distribution within the Danfoss plant.

Danfoss compressor

“We want you to have a place to work,” Dean said to the students during the presentation. “We are an international company. We can employ you all over the world or right

here in Arkadelphia. We are looking forward to opening our facility to foster your education, to build a practical application of theoretical classroom learning.” The presentation concluded with students asking the Danfoss engineers questions to clarify the details of the project and to determine the criteria for a solution. “We are going to give you 100% dedication to this partnership and open our doors to provide anything we can to support your success,” Dean added.

Paul Dean, Danfoss Arkadelphia plant GM

GOZA MIDDLE SCHOOL “Hard-working and dedicated” are two words that Cynamon Pierce used to describe the Goza Competitive Cheer Squad as she shared about this season’s accomplishments and what it took to get there. Pierce volunteered as a coach alongside Heather Fulmer, the team’s sponsor. Members of the 2012-13 competitive squad are Abby Turner, Paige Lewis, Kacie Thomas, Alana Prince, Claire Hill, Abby White, Heather Jester, Emily Roberson, Chandler Taylor, Madison Ledford, Kenzie Land and Jaycee Jester. The competitive cheer season runs

from August to December. “The competition squad is different because it requires more dedication and relying on the team as a whole to perform the routine,” shares Pierce. The girls showed their dedication by attending practices that were held anywhere from two nights a week to every night if a competition was near. During practices they run through the routine in sections, perform it as a whole and then strive to improve areas where they are weak.

for one competition. Parent support at competitions is key and the girls “have more motivation when people are there cheering them on,” according to Pierce. “The girls really came a long way from when I first met them, they work really hard and they learned a lot of lessons about cheerleading, as well as how to get along with each other and work together,” Pierce said. Goza Middle School students spent their first Monday of 2013 experiencing a college basketball game thanks to a cooperative effort between Ouachita Baptist University and GMS. GMS students arrived by bus shortly before lunch where OBU athletic director David Sharp, with help from many GMS and OBU staff members, welcomed students with grilled hot dogs and provided lunch fixings for every GMS student. Afterwards, GMS students filled Bill Vining Arena, replacing the spirit and support OBU’s students would normally have provided since they are still on Christmas break.

The squad participated in competitions all over the state of Arkansas including in El Dorado, Lake Hamilton, Fayetteville-Springdale and Arkadelphia. They competed in the 4A division with up to as many as seven other squads. From these competitions Goza brought home three, first-place trophies and a second-place finish in their division. Fulmer shared that the parent volunteers had a huge impact on the squad, especially with “getting the girls ready for competitions, such as GMS’s state championship competdoing their hair and make-up,” as well itive cheerleading squad took to the as hosting fundraising events that baselines to lead the enthusiasm and even paid most of the hotel expenses performed one of their award winning


routines, complete with a tumbling display, at halftime. “David Sharp and Garry Crowder (Lady Tigers coach) make this happen,” GMS Principal Angela Garner said. “We appreciate OBU pairing up with our public schools and providing an opportunity to make sure all of our students are able to experience a lively college atmosphere. This is a good thing. It’s really win-win for both schools.” GMS students and staff cheered the OBU Lady Tigers to a 71-62 victory over the Christian Brothers Lady Bucs. “This is a great opportunity to engage and interact with our community,” Sharp said. “We enjoy providing an event that these students can enjoy.” Thirty of the best spellers participated in the 2013 Clark County Spelling Bee on January 30, at the Goza Cafegymatorium. After 18 rounds of spelling, GMS student Adeline (Addy) Goodman came in first place. Addy will now go on to compete in the Arkansas State Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee in March. The third place finisher was Channon Hogan, also an eighth grader at GMS.

PEAKE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Fifth-grader Ian Manning won the

Dawson Regional Chess Tournament at HSU. Students from schools within the Dawson network competed.

DeGray Lake State Park and the Little Rock Zoo presented ‘Birds of Prey’ to third- and fourth-graders in PES’s auditorium. A variety of birds including owls, hawks, a vulture and an eagle were displayed. The birds are all members of the LR Zoo’s educa-

tional team and have been rehabilitated from injuries that would no longer allow them to survive in the wild. CENTRAL PRIMARY SCHOOL CPS students kicked off their weeklong “Kindness Starts With Me” campaign recently with an assembly featuring guest speakers from several local businesses and agencies. Each presenter was introduced by a CPS student. The Mayor issued a proclamation and the Sheriff swore-in the students as Jr. Deputies, so that kindness and bullying prevention would be part of everyone’s responsibility. “As parents and teachers, the single most important thing we can do to teach our kids to treat others with kindness is to do so ourselves,” CPS Principal Melinda Morris said.

PERRITT PRIMARY SCHOOL Perritt routinely hosts family oriented activities so that parents can visit the school and get to know the staff as well as your child’s classmates. Please plan to join us for one of our Family Nights, Good Citizen Breakfasts, Muffins for Moms, Donuts for Dads, Goodies for Grandparents, WatchDog Dads, Perritt Field Day, and the annual Anti-Drug Walk.

APS Voice, Winter 2013  

News from the Arkadelphia Public Schools - Achieving AdvancED, Campus Safety, Promise: More Than Money, and more. APS serves more than 2,000...

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