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Student leaders voice status of county schools

Matthew Ellow talks with people prior to the State of Morgan County Schools Address at Burningtree Country Club. | Clif Knight
Matthew Ellow talks with people prior to the State of Morgan County Schools Address at Burningtree Country Club. | Clif Knight

Morgan County Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr. stepped back from the podium and allowed student leaders to deliver his 2014 State of Morgan County Schools Address at Burningtree County Club Thursday morning.

Stepping into Hopkins’ shoes as keynote speaker was Matthew Ellow, a Brewer High School Senior who is currently serving as President of Boys Nation.

To Ellow’s surprise, the crowd stood and gave him a presidential reception when he entered. He was accompanied by two students dressed as secret service agents.

Juleania Gardner, a senior at Danville High School introduced Ellow and moderated a question and answer session with Ellow responding to questions posed by five student leaders.

His answers to questions included the following:

• Arts and music – Plans are to include arts and music as part of the core curriculum. The key to problem solving is creative thinking.

• Safety – Students can’t learn if they don’t feel safe. Morgan County Schools take security seriously. Safety plans are current and an ARTO is on duty at every school in the system.

• Data – Teachers use a variety of assessments, including Dibels and SAT, to determine how much learning has taken place. They help students made adjustments and improve their level of learning. If a student hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught.

• Curriculum – Our teachers are committed to preparing students for the world job market with emphasis on science, technology and math. A system-wide robotics program has been recognized nationally and the new Priceville High School will have a pre-engineering program when it opens in 2015. Our 81 percent graduation rate is higher than the state average and 55 percent of our high school graduates are enrolled in two-year and four-year colleges.

• Leadership – The Leader in Me program has been implemented throughout the school system. Students are developing leadership skills that will enable them to be successful no matter what career they choose.

Hopkins concluded the program by showing a video that was shared with teachers before the 2014-2015 school year began. It focused on the vital role the teacher plays in preparing students for their future.

“You have witnessed students from different grade levels demonstrating the ability to get up and speak in front of a large audience.” Hopkins said. This is what leadership is all about.”

Other student leaders on the program were Kallie Parker, Jordan Melson, Tristin Bynum, Kooper Rooks, Mackenzie Hill, Ben Parker, Ian Lonnergan, Angel Gomez, Sheri Melson, Lauren Davis and Tyler Roy.

The meeting was hosted by the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce and attended by an estimated 150 business and education leaders and elected officials.

Breakfast sponsors were Pepsi, Redstone Federal Credit Union, Decatur Morgan Hospital, Calhoun Community College and 3M.

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