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North Rowan Connection tea on tap Saturday

By Kathy Chaffin
kchaffin@salisburypost.com
The North Rowan Connection ó a group of parents and alumni advocating for students in the northern part of the county ó will hold a Rainbow Tea on Saturday at Trinity Presbyterian Church on Caldwell Street.
The tea will start at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. Though there is no admission fee, anyone who wants to is invited to make a donation to teams representing the different colors of the rainbow.
The North Rowan Connection Team, which is raising money for its after-school tutorial program, represents the color green. The North Rowan Connection Chorus, led by Milton Griffith and comprised of North alumni, will perform.
Chris Sifford, president of the North Rowan Connection, said its mission is “to provide the training, opportunities and resources needed to ensure academic excellence for students in the North Rowan district, thus improving the image, character and community support of our schools.”
“We’re advocating for all kids in the community,” he said, “not just black kids, white, green … We’re for the melting pot, the whole spectrum.”
Among the group’s offerings are academic tutoring by certified teachers and trained tutors, mentoring to help students reach their personal and academic potential and parent advocacy training in such areas as parent empowerment; parent/ teacher conferencing; understanding End-of-Grade tests; home/school partnerships; preparing children for college; and financial aid workshops.
“We felt like it was our responsibility as parents and former North Rowan alumni to give back to our schools,” Sifford said, “and to make a collective effort in trying to put the North Rowan schools back on the map.”
A North Rowan Connection after-school math tutorial program has been very successful. Of the 15 students enrolled in the program last year, Sifford said at least 10 had never passed the End-Of-Grade math tests.
After being tutored by Darren Turner, academically and intellectually gifted instructor at North Rowan, he said nine scored the highest possible grade on their next End-of-Grade math tests.
“Statistics don’t lie,” he said, “so the numbers were there.”
Sifford said the North Rowan Connection is also working to provide students and families with free computer access to help them develop 21st Century skills that are needed but not always developed due to lack of computers in their homes.
“There’s a lot of positive that’s going on in the northern part of the county,” he said, “but for some reason, the stereotype and stigma seems to hover over the northern schools.”
Sifford said comments made at the recent public hearings on the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education’s proposed high school redistricting are a good example of the stereotype of the northern schools.
“I’ve been to all three school board meetings and actually sat and listened to people bash North Rowan,” he said. “I spoke, but never said a bad thing about any of the other schools.”
Sifford said he visits North Rowan schools frequently as a mentor and speaker for different classes and does not see the kind of activity such as gangs alleged by parents from other school districts at the hearings.
Even with fewer academic offerings due to declining enrollment, he said, “North Rowan is still a high school where you can get a quality education if you’re willing to come to the doors prepared and ready to work. Recently, there were two young ladies who received academic scholarships to Duke University and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively.
“There are doctors, lawyers and educators that have all come out of North Rowan … so North Rowan can guarantee you opportunities, but you have to guarantee your own outcome.”
The North Rowan Connection has 497 registered members, the majority of whom are parents of North Rowan students or alumni of North Rowan schools. Not all of the members are active, Sifford said, “but the number of registered members speaks volumes.”
For more information on the North Rowan Connection, log onto its Web site at www.nrconnection.com.

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