Roanoke Superintendent Chuck Marcum spent a considerable amount of time discussing the coronavirus and how it has affected and will continue to affect the Roanoke School System at the school board meeting last week.

"As you know, we are under a State of Emergency from Gov. Kay Ivey and the state school superintendent," Marcum said. "Schools were officially closed at the end of the school day on March 16, and plans are to reopen on April 6. Students were given work packets and Chromebooks to keep up with their work. This is a real challenge from an unprecedented event, and everyone must understand we have to take a proactive approach for the protection of our students, parents, faculty/staff and community. I pray that God will continue to bless you and the Roanoke City Schools as we go through this."

Marcum went on to say schools are providing breakfast and lunch (with the exception of this week which is spring break) for students under the age of 18. Both meals will be served at the same time from 11 a.m. to noon at Handley Middle School and Handley High School. "All students have to do is walk up or drive up," Marcum said. On the first day Marcum said they gave out close to 200 meals. In addition, all extracurricular activities have been canceled

Top science student

The board approved accepting a donation to establish an award to be presented annually to the graduating senior at HHS considered the outstanding or top student in science. The award in the amount of $500 each year, called the Nita Brown Eichman Award, is in memory of Nita Brown, a Handley graduate in 1947. She later became a registered nurse, graduating at the top of her class. She spent 47 years of her life as a practicing nurse. In 1978 she was named by The Roanoke Leader as Outstanding Woman of the Year. The award is made possible by her son and other members of her family in hopes that it will encourage others in the health care field to assist financially with the study of science at HHS.

Superintendent's report

Members of HMS Band traveled to Wetumpka High School on Jan. 25 to compete in Alabama Bandmasters Association All-State auditions. Congratulations to Caleb Baker and Lindsey Whaley, who placed in the District Honor Band. Lindsey also made All-State Band, which is scheduled be held in Huntsville on April 23-25.

The "Operations Save Teens" on Feb. 28 at HHS was successful. There was an excellent turnout from parents. The presenters said this was one of their larger parent turnouts for a high school program. This program was presented a couple of weeks ago at HMS. A point of emphasis was vaping, which is an issue at middle and high schools across the country. Marcum said he left the program upset that we have people making money at the expense of our kids. He said, "We have got to continue to be 'relentless' in our efforts to protect our children." Neil Fetner (Handley class of '95) was one of the speakers. Marcum thanked principal Greg Foster for his work on this program.

Wendell Edwards of ABC 33/40 visited The Tiger Bean on March 4. Edwards interviewed teachers Shannan Platzek and Melody Phillips, as well as one of the student baristas, Markevia. He also got to see The Tiger Bean in action as it served coffee and treats to the HMS teachers. Edwards' series "School Patrol" included a segment on The Tiger Bean on March 11 during the 4 p.m. broadcast.

The Handley High Community Studies Class was awarded a $2,500 grant by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission to be used for projects during the 2020-21 school year. Special thanks to Merredith Sears, who wrote the grant that secured these funds. These funds will help to continue the outstanding work that is done in the HHS Community Studies class.

The sixth- and eighth-grade robotics' teams from HMS competed at the Alabama VEX IQ State Competition in Auburn on Feb. 28. There were 58 middle school teams in attendance at the event. The eighth-grade team won the Amaze Award, which is given to a team with a well-rounded and top-performing robot. The eighth-grade team also won the Teamwork Champion Award. This well-deserving team has qualified to compete at the VEX Worlds Competition in April. Team members are Conlan Dudley, Blake Gray, Cason Hill, Brayden Rampy, Lindsey Whaley and Koye White.

Personnel actions

In personnel actions, the board:

  • Accepted the resignations of Cynthia Wilder, child nutrition program worker, at HMS, and Wanda Vaughans as special education aide at HHS.
  • Approved the contract for Pam Mitchum as chief financial officer for the school system.
  • Approved Bonnie Pilgrim as substitute teacher and Brenda Ware and Allison Clark as cafeteria substitutes.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved an agreement between the school system and Interquest Detection Canines for routine, unannounced visits from drug detection dogs.
  • Approved the agreement between the system and The Learning Tree for assistance with special needs students.

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