‘Let’s jam’: Knox Middle School party goes virtual during closure

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 3, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY – School instruction has moved online, but that didn’t prevent Knox Middle School from reconnecting its faculty, staff and students digitally while students are closed.

Knox put together a simple program on Thursday afternoon to its school community while all learning in the district has been moved to a remote format. A flyer posted online for the event called the event the “Knox Middle School Virtual Day Party.”

“Let’s jam,” the flyer said.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools is in its third week of the closure which was ordered by Gov. Roy Cooper on May 14, and the social and emotional wellbeing of students has been made a priority for teachers during the distance learning for students. Deputy Principal Christopher McNeil said the school was trying to come up with a creative ways to engage with the kids and let them know they still care while following social distancing rules.

“Our teachers were missing kids as well,” McNeil said. “Now what we need is love, and we just loved on one another for while.”

McNeil said students could ask questions in the chat and had a chance to see their teachers in the Zoom call with some music playing. The music was a mixture of current popular songs. McNeil said it went well and there was a time to relax. There were nearly 100 people on the call, and some parents joined in as well.

“The best part was to see the smiles,” McNeil said.

Principal Michael Courtwright said he wanted to remind kids that it is ok to have fun, even with all the work and deadlines for students at home.

“We’re just trying to do some different things to keep things fresh, keep things exciting and make sure the students are taking this eLearning seriously,” Courtwright said. But also, with these different technology platforms, you can do different things with them, and I know Chris wanted to do something that would be a little more fun, a little more exciting for the students.

Athletic Director Darrin Turner promoted the virtual get together on social media and said he believes the event was for the benefit of the teachers as well, who also miss the students.

“I enjoyed seeing the kids and hearing their voice, but for me I love anything that is in a positive light for Knox Middle School,” Turner said. “Just about everywhere I go, I wear my brand.”

Turner said he would love to participate in similar events and get some high schoolers to interact with eighth graders who are about graduate to high school.

“We want to do it maybe one more time before school gets out,” McNeil said. “We want to get more parents involved, allot enough times to maybe find some more avenues to stream it, but we want to get more people involved and that is just going to take some time and careful planning.”

McNeil said it is a good thing to have a district like RSS and a superintendent like Lynn Moody pushing for staff to be innovative.

“It’s totally different without kids in the school building,” McNeil said.


About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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