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3 months ago



CHAMBERS COUNTY, AL – The Alabama Department of Education has released the Alabama State Report Card, containing a letter grade for schools and school systems across the state.

            The Report Card reflects several different factors including academic achievement, academic growth, and chronic absenteeism, as well as graduation rates and college and career readiness for high schools.


            The Chambers County School District as a whole received a letter grade of C, and a numerical rating of 76.


            “While we are certainly not ecstatic over receiving a ‘C’, we are pleased that our results were in line with the state average,” said Chambers County School Superintendent Dr Kelli Hodge. “In a discussion with principals, I reminded them that the Report Card grade was based on the performance of a single test. We don’t give report card grades to children based on just one assignment. While ‘C’ is average, and most people are supposed to score average, we are not satisfied with staying average. We will use this information to help us improve, but we will not discount all of the areas in which our schools are already showing improvement.”


            The State of Alabama introduced the State Report Card this year in compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress in 2015, which requires states to report on student academic achievement. The goal of the Report Card is to provide a starting point and to offer easy-to-understand and concise information showing how a school is doing.


            However, most of the data used for the State Report Card score was taken from the ACT Aspire Summative Assessment that the State of Alabama used to measure the educational standing of students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 from 2012 until 2017. In June 2017, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to terminate the use of ACT Aspire as the state summative assessment, yet included its data as a major component of the Report Card formula.

 Therefore, the Chambers County Board of Education has joined a growing number of school boards across the state that have adopted a resolution for a Vote of No Confidence for the report card because of the criteria established for measuring assessments, including “chronic absenteeism” that does not recognize excused absences.

 “We are not opposed to a report card that uses multiple measures in an equitable way to report successes or lack thereof in achievement, growth, college and career readiness, graduation rates and student success,” said Hodge. “We are opposed to a report card based on one test that has been discontinued for a number of concerns, including limited reliability and not being aligned with state standards.”

“We welcome a report card that recognizes the millions of dollars in scholarship money our students receive, one which recognizes students who graduate with credentials, college acceptance or military commitments,” Hodge added. “We want a report card that does not unfairly categorize students who work hard to keep up or catch up after having cancer, losing a home to fire, attend school-sponsored events or just have the bad luck of being sick several times in one year.”

According to the data used to measure academic growth and achievement during the 2016-2017 school year, the State Report Card indicated the following results for individual schools in the Chambers County District:

• Bob Harding Shawmut Elementary School – Score: 74 (C) 

• Fairfax Elementary School – Score: 70 (C)

• Five Points School – Score: 75 (C)

• Huguley Elementary School – Score: 86 (B)

 • John P. Powell Middle School – Score: 58 (F)

• Lafayette High School – Score: 74 (C)

• Lafayette Lanier Elementary School – Score: 78 (C)

• Lafayette Eastside Elementary School – Score: 66 (D)

• Valley High School – Score: 75 (C)

• W. F. Burns Middle School – Score: 77 (C)

“While the Report Card definitely has its flaws, it is one tool to highlight what we are doing well and where we need to improve,” said Hodge. “It is not meant to be the only measure of a school’s performance. Rather, it gives us an opportunity to encourage honest conversations about what we need to do to help our students succeed. We are all in this together. Schools, parents and our communities have a role to play in educating our children.” Hodge also pointed out that current initiatives are in place to help schools improve academic achievement, such as parent development workshops conducted at Lafayette  Eastside Elementary designed to teach parents how to encourage reading at home through daily interaction with their children. And, at J. P. Powell Middle School, family math, science and fitness nights are held each month, as well as after-school tutoring in math and reading each week. Similar activities are scheduled on a regular basis in schools throughout the district.

“There will always be opportunities for improvement, and our efforts to provide the best educational experience possible for our students will continue without ceasing,” said Hodge. “We welcome insight, suggestions and involvement from parents and the community to insure our success.”

Additional data and details about the factors used to determine grades for each school are available on the Alabama Department of Education’s website at Parents can also see how their children’s school compares with others of similar demographics.

By David Bell


2 days ago



FIVE POINTS – Olivia Kadyrova was only seven years old and living in her native country of Russia when her mother married a local American citizen and the family moved to Chambers County, Alabama. The young girl was enrolled in the first grade at Five Points School.


            “Olivia could barely speak English, but she was a fast learner,” said Five Points Principal Rhonda Givins. “Much of what she learned in the beginning came from listening to music.”


            Through the help of an excellent teaching staff, Olivia’s progress and development continued to thrive all the way through seventh grade, when she transferred to Chambers Academy for one year before the family moved to Auburn. She graduated Auburn High School and currently lives in Lee County.


            Sometime during the past three months, Olivia, who is a CharterBank customer, used her debit card as credit, which automatically made her eligible for the bank’s “Swipe It Forward” campaign giveaway. The first quarter prize was a package of various products from Apple, plus two $100 Apple gift cards. In addition, the winner could designate a school or nonprofit organization to receive ten Apple ipads.


            “As fate would have it, Olivia was the winner, and chose Five Points School as the recipient of the ipads. They will be utilized by students in every classroom” said Givins. “We also want to thank CharterBank for making this contribution possible.”


            “I’m just glad I had the opportunity to give something back to the school that gave so much to me,” said Kadyrova. “I remember as a young girl in a new country how awesome the teachers were; very focused on learning. I will always be grateful to them.”


            Representatives from CharterBank recently accompanied Olivia to Five Points School for an official presentation, at which time she also received her prize package.

By David Bell


about 1 month ago

LaFAYETTE – John P. Powell Middle School and LaFayette High School both presented Black History programs Wednesday in conjunction with the national observance of Black History Month.


            Students at J. P. Powell presented a program entitled, “A Black History Celebration for our Past, Present and Future.” Special tribute was given to some of the most iconic men and women from the days of slavery through the Civil Rights movement, including Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. These early pioneers established legacies that impacted the future of their race, which has transcended time and continues as a positive influence today.


            Members of the student body at LaFayette High School presented a play that also chronicled the struggle of African-Americans in society following the abolition of slavery.


            What began as “Negro History Week” in 1926 was expanded to a month-long celebration in 1970, and six years later was being recognized across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers when President Gerald Ford urged national participation during the United States Bicentennial.


            Since then, the celebration of Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month, has been observed in other countries as well: the United Kingdom (1987), Canada (1995) and the Netherlands (2016).


            “It’s important for our students to explore the past and remember the people and events that shaped our history,” said Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge. “Our educators and students do an excellent job each year in highlighting Black History Month during February.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Students at John P. Powell Middle School in LaFayette, shown above, presented a Black History program Wednesday in conjunction with the observance of Black History Month. Special tribute was given to individuals who shaped the future for African-Americans, such as Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

By David Bell


about 1 month ago

More than 30 area business and community leaders attended a "Business at Breakfast" event Thursday at the Chambers County Career Tech Center, hosted jointly by the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce. Shown above, Career Tech Director Ken Sealy led participants on a tour of the facility following a presentation highlighting its 40-year history.

            LaFAYETTE, AL – The Chambers County Career Tech Center, in conjunction with the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, hosted a Business at Breakfast event Thursday that also included tours of the facility.

             Originally constructed in 1977 to provide technical education in key career fields, the center has evolved over the years to become a state-of-the-art, high-tech institution of learning that provides students the skills and knowledge necessary for jobs in greatest demand.

             “At the present time, there are approximately 500 jobs available in our local employment area that require a level of expertise in engineering, advanced electronics and computer programming,” said Ken Sealy, director of the center. “We are continuously modifying our programs and equipment to insure our students are prepared to enter today’s challenging career fields.”

             Participating high school and middle school students in grades 8 through 12 are transported by bus to the center each weekday, where they receive specialized, hands-on instruction in agriculture construction, horticulture, automotive technology, teacher education, information technology, cosmetology, health science, industrial systems, precision machining, pre-engineering/construction and business.

             “Our current student population is about 600,” said Sealy. “They come at various times of the day according to class schedules at their respective schools. It’s like a dance that we have to choreograph Monday through Friday.”

             In addition to the instruction students receive at the local campus, many are given the opportunity to test their acquired skills in regional, state and national competitions with their peers from other facilities. They raise their own money for travel expenses through businesses they create and manage themselves.

                “We are extremely fortunate to have the Career Tech Center in Chambers County, where we’re able to provide our young people the skills and knowledge they need to become successful,” said Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge. “Some of the classes even earn college credit through Southern Union State Community College, so we always encourage more students to take advantage of these extraordinary opportunities.”

            Participating schools currently include Valley, Lanett and LaFayette high schools, Chambers Academy, and W. F. Burns, Five Points and J. P. Powell middle schools.

            For more information about the Chambers County Career Tech Center, go online to, or call 334-864-8863.

By David Bell


about 1 month ago

VALLEY, AL – A new group of 30 Lafayette Lanier Elementary School students was recently inducted into the National Honor Society. Eligibility requires that each student maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA).

             In addition to the academic requirement, students pledge their active involvement in community service, leadership, and good character by demonstrating high standards of honesty, reliability, courtesy, concern and respect for others, as well as maintaining a clean disciplinary record.

             Fifth-grade inductees included DayLee Dembo, Alyssa Elliott, Mary Jane McClelland and David Paschal.

               Inductees from fourth grade were Milagros Agustin, Isabella Boos, Amirrial Brooks, Skylar Brooks, Gracie Carpenter, Tyler Crowder, Madison Davis, Katelyn DeLoach, Terriona Flournoy, Brendan Foster, Justin Alexander Gilson, Makensley Griffin, Antwan Hatchett, Zoe Herston, Jasmine Hughley, Christen Johnson, Emmanuel Magby, Tiarra Miller, Olivia Moncus, Gracie Lee Peacock, Catie Reaves, Kade Riley, Jordyn Simpson, Rihanna Swain, Moriale Toombs and Corley Vaughn.

             Each student was awarded a pin signifying their official Honor Society membership.

by David Bell


2 months ago

FIVE POINTS, AL – A new group of 16 Five Points School students has been inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. Eligibility requires that each student maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA).

 In addition to the academic requirement, students pledge their active involvement in community service, leadership, and good character by demonstrating high standards of honesty, reliability, courtesy, concern and respect for others, as well as maintaining a clean disciplinary record.

Fourth-grade inductees included Jucasion Brooks, Skye Favors, Amilleon Huguley, Amillion Staples and Michael Turner.

Inductees from fifth grade were Tammiah Collier, Aayden Duffee, Kentrel Paige, Jermayne Rozier and Madison Turner.

Jasmine Barber and A’Shayla James were the new sixth-grade inductees; Talia Lee, Jaylah Sturdivant and Brianna Tucker were inducted from the seventh grade; and Zachary Taylor was the new eighth-grade inductee.

“These students have worked very hard to become worthy of this honor,” said Five Points Principal Rhonda Givins. “We are proud of each of them for their achievement.”

The inductions were announced during a special ceremony and reception at the school. 

By David Bell

VALLEY, AL – The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board presented a program Friday to students at Valley High School designed to discourage underage drinking.

Entitled “Under Age-Under Arrest,” the program was created in 2013, and has been presented at schools across the state.

“Underage drinking is a major problem in Alabama,” said Dean Argo, Government Relations Manager for the ABC Board. “Approximately 75 percent of high school seniors have admittedly consumed alcohol, and one-third of those are currently binge drinking.”

According to Argo, a recent study showed that 65 percent of underage drinkers get their alcohol from family and friends, and more than 80 percent of the alcohol consumed by minors is done within their own home or the homes of friends.

“Each year, about 5,000 people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking. That is almost the entire population of Valley, Alabama,” Argo told students. “These include deaths from drunk driving, other accidents, homicides, suicides and alcohol poisoning.”

Students were shown examples of young people their age who lost their lives due to alcohol-related incidents. In some cases, the victims didn’t actually consume alcohol but got into a vehicle driven by someone who was knowingly impaired.

“Decisions made at this juncture in your life will affect you forever,” said Argo. “That’s why it’s important to make the right decisions. Don’t make the mistake of saying it will never happen to me.”

Valley Police Chief Tommy Weldon also encouraged students to always drive defensively when operating a motor vehicle.
“It’s your responsibility to take care of yourself and watch out for others. When you’re driving on the road, be alert to dangers that may approach you,” said Weldon. “Each of you are precious, and we care about you. That’s why we’re here today.”
Valley High School Principal Sherry Ashe said she heard about the program this past summer and knew it would be beneficial to her students.
“Alcohol impacts our student body every day. We hear it from them about what goes on in their personal lives away from school,” said Ashe. “We want all our students to finish high school and become productive citizens. Hopefully, programs like this will help them stay on track.”
“We don’t expect to change the lives of everyone who attended this program,” added Chambers County School Superintendent Dr Kelli Hodge. “However, if it helps just one student, then it was worth the effort.”
The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board partners its education effort with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and local law enforcement agencies across the state. The agency has presented more than 40 programs since the beginning of the current school year.
All students who attended Friday’s presentation were asked to sign a pledge card committing to remain alcohol-free until they reach the legal drinking age of 21.


3 months ago

LaFAYETTE, AL – In an effort to help students become better readers, Eastside Elementary School recently hosted a lunchtime Parent Development Workshop designed to teach parents how to encourage reading at home. Lunch for those attending was provided by the school. The workshop was conducted by school principal LaKeyda Burnett, who stressed the importance of “time investment” on a daily basis.

            “Twenty minutes should be your target goal each day,” Burnett told parents. “If you can’t commit to twenty minutes, reserve as much time as you can and be consistent. Focus on reading material that is of interest to your child, and read aloud with them. If they see it’s important to you, it will become important to them.”

            Burnett said research has shown that daily reading improves a child’s math skills, and fiction books have been shown to build character and make children more compassionate. Reading also boosts self-esteem, communication skills and advanced vocabulary.

            “You are your child’s first teacher,” Burnett added. “We want to provide you with the resources and support necessary for your child’s success, and my door will always be open to address your needs and concerns.”

             In addition to reading at home daily with their children, Burnett suggested that parents engage in simple exercises such as playing word games or creating a “word wall” that can be interchanged to teach their kids new words each week. Once the child learns to spell the word and understands its meaning, they can then begin using it in a sentence.

             “We try to offer our parents some type of activity on a monthly basis. This was the second time this school year that we’ve held an event during school hours,” said Burnett. “Realizing how parent work schedules differ, we want to accommodate as  many of them  as  we 

can by providing both day and evening activities.”

            In addition, to live discussion with the parents, age-appropriate material was distributed containing additional information available through other sources. For example, one of the handouts featured the “50 Best iPad Apps for Users with Reading Disabilities,” any of which parents can download free of charge. Others provided tips specific to each child’s grade level.

            The next daytime activity for parents is scheduled in March. Anyone wishing additional information should contact Eastside Elementary School at 334-864-8274.

 PHOTO CAPTION: Eastside Elementary School Principal LaKeyda Burnett (shown above center) recently conducted a lunchtime Parent Development Workshop for teaching school parents how to help their children become better readers through interaction at home.

By David Bell


3 months ago


A new group of 38 Huguley Elementary School students has been inducted into the National Honor Society. Eligibility requires that each student maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA).

In addition to the academic requirement, students pledge their involvement in community service, leadership, and good character by demonstrating high standards of honesty, reliability, courtesy, concern, and respect for others, as well as maintaining a clean disciplinary record.

New inductees included Tucker Anderson, Zoey Andrews, Jelilah Anglin, Anani Bailey, Ty’Shun Bailey, Zaniyah Bailey, Brady Blackston, Ethan Brooks, Kelsi Carr, Luis Castro, Carter Chambley, Jermeceonna Comer, Sam Gray, Makylin Hammock, Tenslee Haynes, Kaien Henderson, Tanearia Jackson, Chloe Jones, Ansleigh McClain, Kendall McQuiston, Camden Moncus, Parker Otto, Lynlee Pinkard, Jaydence Powell, Jake Reames, Chase Sanders, Sye Siggers, Kaleyah Story, Arianna Strickland, Lyric Sturges, Autumn Templeton, Jerrica Van Houten-Adams, Talla Waller, Kelcie Wenck, Parker Williams, Vann Williams, O. J. Woody and Braylon Carter.

“We are very proud of these students for their outstanding accomplishments,” said Huguley Principal Benji Mitchum. “Each of them will serve as excellent role models for their fellow classmates.” 

The inductions were announced during a recent PTO meeting and reception at the school.

By David Bell