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Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Magical Night

Talladega High School’s graduation ceremony, Thursday, May 28th , was truly a magical night and for a brief moment in time a common theme emerged in the minds and hearts of Talladega…someone very special was coming to town and her focus was OUR graduating seniors. This special someone was an elegant, brilliant lady named Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the commencement speaker.

This magical night began as just a simple idea…maybe this fine lady would accept an invitation to visit our fair city. Some folks might have thought it was a long shot, too expensive, impossible. Yet the invitation was accepted, cost nothing, and was a complete success.

Thank goodness that Dr. Horton and Central Office staff made that first effort and planned with an end in mind. The “end” in mind was that she and her employees could do something truly magical for the seniors. The Superintendent wanted something wonderful and magical for the 2009 graduating class and followed through to make it happen.

This magical night was preceded by careful consideration of how the event could be shared with others. Many discussions about location, security, organization, a gift for the speaker, and so many other topics were held. Accommodating such a large audience was a huge concern. But even with so many possible obstacles, the planning continued, problems were solved, and the night was flawless.

Weeks before the event, Talladega pulled together as a city and employees across the district pitched in to cover such things as preparing the program, mailing invitations, handling tickets procedures, preparing of the grounds, checking the sound system, sprucing up the reception room, and many other details. No task was left undone. Even on the night of the ceremony, employees could be seen still at work making things perfect for the graduates.

As I looked in the stands and all around me, I saw smiles and faces filled with pride. Talladega was proud of its students, our leaders were of one accord, and everyone had a common goal in mind-- celebrating the accomplishments of these fine boys and girls. Dr. Rice came to speak to our seniors, yet her message was far more reaching.

This magical night didn’t just happen, but transpired after much planning, team effort, action, and hard work. And for this magical night, our city came together as a harmonious whole.

The police department, the city mayor, school board, city council, administrators, politicians, parents, teachers, district employees, family members, citizens, and students all gathered to celebrate the end of high school and beginning of life. May we always remember this magical night and digest Dr. Rice’s words of wisdom.

Follow your passion...When you are convinced that you are right, find someone with a different opinion...Don't ever lose your thirst for knowledge.

Can we take this message and apply it to our own lives? Perhaps we can become passionate about our city flourishing. Maybe by truly listening to others who have differing opinions we can find ways to continue growing and prospering. And Dr. Rice’s last bit of advice, “continue to grow in knowledge,” is especially important because the more we know about each other, the better the decisions will be. Dr. Rice’s message could become a catalyst and reminder that our children deserve not only a good commencement speaker, but a united effort to make life better for every one of them. We can serve as role models who take these words of wisdom to heart.

I choose to believe that there is a desire in Talladega to provide the best for the children. Maybe by following these three bits of wisdom, we can keep the magic going. We can hold on to that pride we felt on graduation night. The future seniors of Talladega City Schools deserve it.

Congratulations, Class of 2009!

Proud to Be an American

In our society, it seems that when we gather together for something of importance, music plays a key role. This observation was certainly true of Thursday's graduation. For example, the procession would not have been complete without our band's rendition of "Pomp and Circumstance."

This post features "Proud to Be an American" sung by David Horton. Mr. Horton is the devoted husband of Dr. Joanne Horton. For many, this night was their first introduction to Mr. Horton, yet for two years, he has been a constant supporter of this school system as it seeks to fulfill its vision of moving forward to meet the demands of a changing world.

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Pictures from Graduation

Please enjoy these pictures from the Talladega High School Graduation. As you view the pictures, you will hear Dr. Rice's address in the background.

Thanks to David McDaniel for assembling this video!

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DVD of Graduation Available

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A DVD of the Talladega High School Graduation is available. If you would like to order a copy, simply download the form by clicking here.

Once you have completed the form, drop it by Talladega High School no later than Friday, June 5.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Find Your Passion...

Graduation is always a special a time for the the graduates and their families. At this time of year, high school graduation are being held in every community in America. One, however, has attracted the attention of the media nationwide and worldwide.

Each year, Dr. Condoleezza Rice accepts only one invitation to speak at a high school graduation. This year, that one was Talladega High School. In addition to hearing the inspiring words of a fellow Alabamian, every senior met and was photographed with Dr. Rice.

Here is the news story as told by ABC 33/40:

Jeremy Campbell of ABC 33/40 spent time with Dr. Rice in this exclusive interview:

Coverage from Fox 6 is here:

Channel 42 featured this spot:

Today's Birmingham News carries this excellent article.

Listed below is the Associated Press article which is appearing today throughout the country:

Associated Press
Published: May 29, 2009

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) - Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged graduates of Talladega High School to find their passions in life and follow them.
Rice a native of Birmingham, was the school’s graduation speaker Thursday night. She said she first studied music as a college student and later pursued international studies, although she said she “didn’t have a Russian bone in my body.“
She told the 150 graduates and their families that many years later, when she was leaving the White House lawn via helicopter with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife in 1990, she thought she had made a good decision in changing her major.
Talladega Mayor Brian York gave Rice a key to the city and declared Thursday “Condoleezza Rice Day."

The Anniston Star gave detailed coverage in a story posted here.

Of all of the media attention, perhaps most notable is Chris Norwood's article in The Daily Home. That article appears here. This paper has proven to be a supporter of this school system time and time again. You may view a 29-picture slideshow of the event by clicking here.

Graduations are happening in every community in America. This one attracted the attention of the nation. As the Class of 2009 begins to make its mark on the world, who knows which of these graduates might just attract the attention of the nation. It can happen...just as it did for one Alabamian. Follow your passion...When you are convinced that you are right, find someone with a different opinion...Don't ever lose your thirst for knowledge. Wise words spoken by someone who has so much in common with the young men and women she was addressing.

There is another story to tell. Check back here on Monday.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Please Remember Me

On this Memorial Day, we bring you a tribute to our fallen troops.

The music is "Dante's Prayer" by Loreena McKennit. The creator of this video does not give her name, but writes, "The pictures are from various sources on the web, and the editing is done painstakingly by hand using Windows Movie Maker. This took me forever, but I hope it will be appreciated."

Yes, I can assure you it will...


Thursday, May 21, 2009

THS Graduation Update

The Talladega High School graduation will be held on May 28 at 7:00 in Mary Dumas Stadium. Note the location. After much discussion within our own ranks and with Dr. Rice's office, we did change from the original location of Harwell Auditorium so that we could accommodate more people. This post contains information that will be important over the coming week. Please check back here as this is the one place where we can put information that will be accessible by everyone.

Since graduation is at the stadium, do I still need a ticket?

Yes. Everyone needs a ticket, and the names of all ticket holders will be on a list. The Secret Service is involved in this event, so security is likely to be stringent.

How do I get my tickets if my child is graduating?

Students turned in names of people for whom they need tickets. Those tickets will be given to the students through Talladega High School.

I am a Talladega City Schools employee. How do I get tickets?

Principals at each school were asked to compile a list of names of those employees who wished to attend graduation. Principals will be given the required number of tickets to distribute to their employees.

I requested tickets by signing up on the this blog. How do I get my tickets?

You should have received an e-mail today. We did get some e-mails bounce back as being undeliverable. Be sure to check your spam filter before calling to inquire. Tickets may be picked up at the Talladega City Schools Board of Education between 8:00 and 3:30 this coming Tuesday and Wednesday. Be prepared to present your identification when picking up tickets.

What happens in case of rain?

Whenever someone plans an outdoor event, a rain plan simply becomes part of the logistics. In case of rain, graduation ceremonies will be moved to Harwell Auditorium.

Will my ticket get me into Harwell Auditorium?

It depends. Two types of tickets are being issued. One type is being issued to the students and their guests, Talladega City School employees, local dignitaries, and "first-come-first-served" members of the public who signed up via this blog. The second type is being issued to those who signed up on the blog. The e-mail you received will tell you which group you are in.

In the event of rain, the lunchroom at Talladega High School will be used to house those who are not able to get into Harwell Auditorium. Those in the lunchroom will be able to watch the graduation ceremony through a live feed.

I didn't request tickets at all. Is there any way I can still go?

Yes. Simply come by the Talladega City School Board of Education on Tuesday or Wednesday between 8:00 and 3:30. You will need to present your identification since we do have to maintain a list of every person who is being admitted. Please realize that in the event of rain, the ticket you will be receiving will not get you into Harwell Auditorium. You will be able to view the ceremony in the THS lunchroom.

How much are tickets?

Tickets are free.

You mentioned security. Tell me more.

Being the most recent former Secretary of State, Dr. Rice still maintains Secret Service protection. Everyone will go through a metal detector upon entering the stadium. A list of names of ticket holders is to be maintained.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Yes. Savor the moment. To have Dr. Condoleezza Rice as our speaker is an honor, and the full magnitude of just how big this is will probably not be realized until next Thursday. This is special for our seniors. This is special for our school system. This is special for Talladega.

Many, many people have worked very hard to make this day possible. When we made the initial contact, we felt we had little hope of her actually coming here, yet we gave it our best shot. That in itself should be a message to our seniors about what is possible when people dream bigger than others think is practical.

Handling the logistics has required hard work, patience, and a little imagination. We are not used to something of this magnitude, and we are learning as we go. That is the second message to this senior class, that if you wait until everything is in perfect alignment before you are willing to step out of the box, you will never step out of the box.

Along the way, there are those who ask, "How can I help?" and those who simply sit back and criticize. That is the third message for our seniors, that they will meet both types of people in their lives and will get to decide into which camp they themselves will fall.

Class of 2009, your day is approaching. Savor the moment.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

To the Class of '09

This one has been around for a while. The advice was good a decade ago, and it's good advice now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Up Close and Personal Conversations

Transitions can sometimes be difficult and the more one knows the easier the change will be. With this in mind, Principal Scott Bailey arranged for his current students to visit their former elementary schools to have "up close and personal" conversations with sixth graders. The students were well received and the dialogue flowed easily. Mr. Bailey addressed questions at the end and students went back to class feeling excited and a little more at ease.

The next week sixth graders were invited to tour the Ellis campus. This confirmed what the visiting 7th graders had shared.

Great idea and one that I hope is repeated next year. Thanks, Mr. Bailey and Ellis Junior High students. Come back anytime!

Instrument Placement for Ellis Band

All 6th grade students at EACH elementary school will receive the opportunity to try all of the instruments in an effort to help them make a decision about 7th grade band. We are very excited about this opportunity and hope that the 6th grade students are as well. We began at Graham with a great group of 6th graders. So far this has proven to be a wonderful experience for all involved. We will make our rounds to each elementary school by the first of the week.

If you student is absent on your instrument day and would like to schedule a time to come by the bandroom please feel free to call me at 315-5706. We want every student to have this great privilege.

Thanks to Mr. Bailey for allowing me the time to visit each elementary school and provide this service in an effort to make our band program stronger!

Post written by Danielle Todd


Friday, May 15, 2009

A Special Thanks

One of the reasons R. L. Young is so successful as a school is the strong support from parents and our PTO. The faculty and staff recently celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week. That Monday was made extra special by a luncheon for all employees.

We want to thank those who took a leadership role to make this event possible. I'd like to share my employees' comments:

It was absolutely wonderful! Thank you so very much! Mrs. Bittle

Thank you for all you do for us. Mrs. Brooks

Thank you for the tremendous things you do for the students and staff. Teacher Appreciation Week was great! Mrs. Vincent

The decorations as well as the food and hospitality were great. Thanks, Mrs. Hodnett

Thank you so much. Coach Stephens

Thanks for everything. Mrs. Morrow

Thank you for all the wonderful things you do for our school. Mrs. Harris

Thank you for all you do. You make a difference. Mrs. Gurley

Thank you for the wonderful lunch. I appreciate everything you do for us. Mrs. French

Thank you so much. You guys are the best! Mrs. G. Thomas

It was great. Thank you so much. Love you, Mrs. Beard

Thanks for the delicious meal. You always out do yourself. Also much appreciation for a great year. Mrs. Shirley

Thanks for the delicious lunch. I appreciate everything you do for us. Mrs. Nelson

Thanks is an understatement. Y'all are awesome! Mrs. Armstrong

Thank you for the great food! Mrs. Winn

Thanks so much for lunch. It was great! Mrs. Haynes

Thank you so much for the super lunch. we appreciate it so much! Mrs. Thornton

The food was delicious. Can't wait until next year. Mrs. Lane

Thank you so much. Mrs. Wilson

Thank you for all you do. Sheryl Gaither

Thanks! Mr. Jemison

Thank you for all you do! Mrs. Diane

Thank you for everything. You are all great! Mrs. Lamberth

Thanks for the lunch. It was great! Mrs. Liner

Thank you so much! Mrs. Belcher

The food was great! Thanks so much for your hard work! Mrs. Nunn

You are the best! Mrs. P. Thomas

C. L. Salter Follow-Up

The previous post features a spot from Fox 6 "What's Right With Our Schools." This morning's Daily Home had this to say:

Federal and state governments place a lot of emphasis on standardized testing in schools these days — so when students and teachers go the extra mile to raise test scores, the deserve some recognition.

That’s exactly what a couple hundred of the students, teachers, principal and coach at Salter Elementary School in Talladega received when they went out to the Talladega Superspeedway Wednesday.

The children got to vote for which teachers got a ride around the track and were excited spectators at the event.

We congratulate the students and staff at Salter for their testing efforts and applaud the tracking for helping recognize that accomplishment.

Fox 6 ran a second feature this morning including additional interviews with students and teachers. If the station posts that clip on its website, we will embed it here also.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

What's Right With Our Schools...C.L. Salter

Tonight's Fox 6 "What's Right With Our Schools" segment featured C. L. Salter. The entire school took a trip to the Talladega Super Speedway. In addition to learning about a landmark and an event that is important to our area, the trip served as a reward for the hard work on the DIBELS, ARMT, and SAT spring tests and hard work throughout the year. The entire student body got to participate!

Here is the story as it aired on Fox 6:


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Update on THS Graduation

Thanks to those who have expressed enthusiasm for our graduation speaker, Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Harwell Auditorium has a large seating capacity. Compare the 1,450 seats in our facility with the seating capacity of auditoriums in the surrounding area, and you we begin to realize how fortunate we are to have that facility.

Even though we have a large seating capacity, it is also a finite seating capacity. When the number of people who wish to attend this event exceeds the number of available seats, some decisions must be made. The order in which preference for seating is being given is as follows:
  1. Guests of graduating seniors (up to 6)
  2. Employees of the Talladega City Board of Education (up to 2 per person)
  3. Guests of graduating seniors (beyond 6)
  4. Invited dignitaries
  5. General public

At this point, THS seniors have been given the opportunity to submit names of up to 6 guests. Actual names are being required to fulfill both a requirement from Dr. Rice's office and to ensure that only tickets which are really needed are being requested. We know that some students will submit 6 names while others may have only 2 or 3 names.

After examining the number of tickets requested by students and employees, we will determine the number of tickets still available and allow students who need more than 6 tickets an opportunity to request additional ones.

Once student requests have been filled, tickets will be given to a select number of local dignitaries. Finally, remaining tickets will be issued on a first-come-first-served basis (limit of two). We already have a mechanism in place to track those ticket requests.

We anticipate that we will know how many tickets will be available to the public on May 21. At that point, we will e-mail those whose ticket requests we can honor by e-mail. We will do the same with those whose requests we cannot honor.

We are looking at provisions for providing a live telecast of the graduation ceremony for those who wish to attend but are not able to get tickets.

Additional information will appear here as it becomes available.