Education briefs: RCCC students win awards at national competition

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 1, 2022

SALISBURY — Three students from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College captured top 10 honors at this year’s national SkillsUSA competition held recently in Atlanta. Joe Guza and Joshua Wood won first place medals, and Kyle Benkendorf, placed sixth at the event.

The 58th SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference brought together approximately 5,200 outstanding career and technical education state contest winners to compete in more than 100 different hands-on trade, technical and leadership fields.

Guza won a gold medal in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R), Wood won a gold medal in sheet metal, and Benkendorf captured sixth place in industrial motor control. They competed in the College Post-Secondary Division.

“Congratulations to these dedicated students on their outstanding skills and performance,” said Joe Christie, program chair for construction technologies programs at Rowan-Cabarrus. “They came out on top while competing with the best in the nation, and that is no small feat.”

During the national competition, students worked against the clock and each other to prove their expertise in a variety of occupation areas such as construction trades, electronics, precision machining, automotive, welding and medical assisting. Contests were executed with the support of industry, trade associations and labor organizations.

North Carolina students earned the third-highest medal count in the nation, with 24 gold, 9 silver, and 31 bronze medallions.

This year’s Rowan-Cabarrus
SkillsUSA advisors were Ryland Perry, Brandon Reese, Brandon Hoffner, Lori Safrit, Carl Smith, Jon Crockett, Joe Christie, Larry Newcomb and James Hauss.

“We are extremely proud of these three students for the skill they have developed in their chosen fields of study,” RCCC President Carol Spalding said. “Rowan-Cabarrus encourages students to take advantage of opportunities to expand their learning beyond the classroom. Involvement in organizations like SkillsUSA helps them take their education and career aspirations to the next level.”

SkillsUSA is a national partnership of students, teachers and industry, working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce by providing students with opportunities to gain personal, career and technical skills grounded in academics. The organization has more than 350,000 student and instructor members at the national level.

For more information, visit For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, visit or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).

Livingstone’s West End Classic Saturday to honor three

SALISBURY — Two individuals and one community organization will be honored this weekend for the work they do to support the West End community during Livingstone College’s first home game.

Janine Evans, Jason Walser and West End Pride will each receive the Fannie T. Butler Community Impact Award during a pre-game ceremony at 4:30 p.m. at Alumni Memorial Stadium.

The West End Classic is a partnership between Livingstone College, the City of Salisbury and members of the West End Coalition (West End Pride and West End Community Organization) that pays homage to the community in which Livingstone resides. This year marks the ninth annual classic game.

Pre-pandemic, Livingstone College and the West End Coalition met for breakfast meetings throughout the year to discuss improvement issues related to the community and to vote on West End residents who qualify for

Community Spirit Awards during the West End Classic game. Last year, Livingstone College decided to rename the award after Fannie Tillery Butler, a member of the West End Coalition, who passed away on Feb. 11, 2021, at the age of 92. Butler, a 1949 graduate of Livingstone College and local educator, was a founding member of the West End Community Organization and served as president for more than 25 years. She was the first director of Miller Recreation Center.

“Our selections this year exemplify community service initiatives that supported relationship building and improved visibility of the West End community,” said Dee Dee Wright, who leads the West End Coalition.

“These three will be the first to receive the award named after Butler.”

Evans, the daughter of Raemi Evans, registered numerous senior citizens for COVID vaccinations who did not have internet access or had difficulty making arrangements via phone, Wright said. She arranged for

transportation for many of them to get to the designated vaccination locations. She was also responsible for the repair and replacement of more than 65 city lights in the West End area; and for raising more than $4,000 to support swim lessons and free admission to the Fred M. Evans Pool each summer, Wright said.

Year round, Evans plans and supports youth literacy by supplying free books for students in grades K-12 at the Raemi Evans Little Library at the Fred M. Evans Pool.

Walser, who became the executive director of the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation in 2017, has overseen investments in community nonprofits and community improvements in the Historic West End, Wright said. He was deeply involved in the creation of the Bell Tower Green Park downtown.

Walser grew up in Statesville and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in business. He then went on to earn a degree from the UNC School of Law. He practiced law in Hendersonville, before joining The Land Trust for Central North Carolina in Salisbury in 1999. He worked for The Land Trust for nearly 16 years, serving as its executive director.

He and wife Tracy of 25 years have two children: Ian, 21, a senior at East Carolina University, and Autumn, 18, a freshman at NC State.

The game begins at 5 p.m. A ribbon cutting for the new stadium begins at 4:20 p.m. and the West End Classic presentations will begin at 4:30 p.m. on the track at centerfield. There will be fireworks after the game.

Kylie Morgan

Catawba grad a finalist for student teacher of the year

SALISBURY — Kylie Morgan, Catawba College class of 2022 and Middle Grades ELA Education major, has been named a top ten finalist for the North Carolina Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Student Teacher of the Year.

Upon notification she was a finalist, Morgan said “From the time I began 4th grade, I knew that my heart was in education. It’s exciting to be able to say that in just a few short weeks, I will have my own students, my own classroom, and will be able to see my dream become reality. This year, I was honored to be named as Catawba College’s prospective teacher of the year. God blessed me abundantly during my time at Catawba and continued to do so- I was chosen as a top 10 finalist for this competition; something that I never could have predicted. However, none of this would have been possible without the education program at Catawba. My professors and peers encouraged me, challenged me, and genuinely wanted to see me succeed. My thanks will always go to them.”

Morgan was nominated by Catawba’s Teacher Education Committee and received the Shirley L. Haworth Prospective Teacher Award from the College. A quote from her nomination stated “Miss Morgan has proven herself as a leader in the classroom and beyond. Her peers seek ideas from her, which she willingly shares. She practices reflective teaching and continual learning. She values her students and the variety of experiences and backgrounds they bring to her classroom. She holds the profession of teaching in high regard and considers it a privilege to teach her students each day. She serves as an asset to her students, her school community, and the profession.” Lisa Moore, faculty supervisor for Morgan, added “Kylie’s work shows a spark that comes from a dedicated teacher that is going to impact the teaching profession in a positive way for many years to come.”

The annual award recognizes outstanding future educators nominated by NCACTE member institutions. One teacher candidate from the NCACTE member institutions is recognized as the Outstanding Student Teacher of the Year in North Carolina at the annual fall NCACTE Teacher Education Forum.

“I learned a lot during my four years at Catawba; things that I can’t wait to share with my students,” added Morgan. “However, I know that I still have much to learn, and that my students will teach me as much as I teach them.”

North Hills continues back-to-school tradition

SALISBURY — North Hills Christian School continued an annual tradition by hosting a school-wide prayer walk when they returned to campus the week of Aug. 15.

In the previous two years, the prayer walks were smaller in size than is typical for the school, as they took precautions due to COVID by limiting participation to staff and students only. However this year, in a time when much of the world is striving towards a sense of normalcy, NHCS was excited to welcome families back to participate in the beloved tradition.

Sharing her thoughts on the event, North Hills Executive Director, Maria Lowder stated: “It was an incredible day to begin the 55th year of NHCS with campus-wide prayer. It was such a blessing to be able to welcome our families back to campus to join our annual prayer walk as we prayed for our students, staff, faculty, and families.”

The event began in the Helen Kelley Smith Gymnasium with more than students, nearly 100 faculty and staff members, and over 150 parents and/or guardians. Shari Evans, Spiritual Life and Guidance Director began with prayer in the filled gymnasium. The prayer walk continued from there as staff, students, and their families canvassed the North Hills campus, praying specifically for individuals, classes, athletic teams, and the community as a whole.

“It was so special to be able to welcome students and families on campus this year for our Annual All-Campus Prayer Walk. This year’s school theme, “Press Forward, Be Bold, Live Loud”, really speaks to what God has called us to as a school. We are going to press forward into all the Lord has for us this year; we are going to be bold in growing our faith; and, we are going to live our faith out loud for His glory.” added Shari Evans.

Brown to be guest lecturer at Hood seminary

SALISBURY – Hood Theological Seminary will hold its annual Ruben L. Speaks Endowed Memorial Lecture Series on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 7- 8.  This year’s featured presenter is Teresa L. Fry Brown.

The lectures, which are free  and open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 and 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8. This year the lecture series will be virtual through Zoom. Go here for information: speaks-lecture-series. Zoom links will be posted on the Hood website.

The Ruben L. Speaks Endowed Memorial Lecture Series is named in honor of the late Bishop Ruben Lee Speaks, a gifted African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church leader acknowledged on numerous occasions for his leadership and creative engagement in ministry. Speaks received the Chancellor’s Award from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Brooklyn Advisory Committee of the New York Urban League.