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Teachers, staff attend pep rally to celebrate start of school

Pep rallies and school spirit aren’t just for students. Three thousand Rowan-Salisbury School System teachers and staff members kicked off the school year Thursday with a giant pep rally in Catawba College’s Goodman Gym.

“Everything we do revolves around our students,” Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody told Rowan-Salisbury employees. “Today is about you.”

The employees came in on buses, and were greeted by cheerleaders from local schools. They started off with the national anthem and music from Carson High School’s jazz band.

NASCAR broadcaster and Rowan-Salisbury alum Kent Bernhardt emceed the pep rally, keeping things lighthearted and fun.

The employees heard from Catawba College President Brien Lewis and Catawba’s Vice President for Enrollment Cindy Barr, as well as Moody.

“We think it is important to come together as an entire Rowan-Salisbury School System family each year,” she said. “It’s a great time just to celebrate together.”

The beginning of the school year is busy, and it’s easy to get bogged down if you don’t intentionally make time to celebrate, Moody said.

“The first week of school is always super stressful,” said South Rowan teacher Keressen Whitmarsh.

She added that the pep rally is an opportunity to “have fun and act like a student” before going back to their schools to finish getting ready for next week.

“I wish all the students could hear how excited all their teachers are about coming back to school,” Moody said. “It’s fun to be in the room and see all the spirit and enthusiasm.”

A portion of the program was devoted to recognizing some of Rowan-Salisbury’s best and brightest employees.

Michael Drye, a custodian from Rockwell Elementary, was named the Support Staff Person of the Year. Shanna Matlock from Landis Elementary School was named the Teacher Assistant/Bus Driver of the Year. Latoya Dixon, Knox Middle School co-principal, received the Principal of the Year Award. And Millbridge Elementary fifth-grade teacher Nancy Goodnight was named Teacher of the Year. South Rowan won the Spirit Award.

“Last year we were really excited and pumped up,” Whitmarsh said, adding that when they didn’t win, they were disappointed.

But this year, they won.

“The best part was seeing everybody being excited about their school,” she said.

Each teacher and staff member received a free Rowan-Salisbury T-shirt to wear to the pep rally. In addition, roughly $20,000 worth of awards and door prizes were given out in the form of Apple Watches, Walmart and Food Lion gift cards, spa days, shoes and jewelry. Goodnight was also given a new car to drive for the next 10 months.

“We’re extremely grateful for how supportive the companies are,” Moody said.

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