Leading Without Limits: iLEAD at VHECPosted by Whit McGhee at 8/23/2017
VHEC had their first iLEAD assembly on Friday, August 18. Students were given the challenge that “everyone can be a LEADER and EVERYONE can make a difference this school year”. 14 students were leaders and assisted with the presentation of the assembly. 28 Little Rebel Cheerleaders created and presented a cheer to help everyone learn the importance of taking responsibility and showing initiative.
Mrs. Humphries, the principal at VHEC, talked to the students about things that a good leader does. “At Central school, we do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do”, says Mrs. Humphries. Counselors, Kellie Knight and Marla Hatch, emphasized the importance of leading with a positive attitude and that leadership often means serving or thinking of others needs first.
VHEC plans to have student leaders stepping up to lead assemblies, programs, broadcast, school visits, new student tours, etc. all year because children are our future leaders and we must begin preparing them now.
Celebrating Without Limits: West Way Week & VHEW 40th AnniversaryPosted by Alice Elmore & Whit McGhee at 8/22/2017
From the moment they enter the school, visitors to Vestavia Hills Elementary West see the phrase that guides students’ behavior: a display explaining “The West Way.”
They also see it throughout the halls and classrooms of the school as students demonstrate the motto, which sums up how West students are expected to behave.
Courtesy, respect, and responsibility make up “The West Way,” and every year, students learn about these character traits during West Way Week.
This year, VHEW celebrated West Way Week from August 14th through the 18th. Each day, students received lessons or mementos to help them learn about the character traits of courtesy, respect and responsibility. The week concluded with students wearing their favorite team apparel as a reminder that they are all a team at school.
“West Way week provides time for teachers to teach courtesy, respect, and responsibility to students,” said third grade teacher Lori Reeves. “When children are taught these virtues, it helps ensure that they will develop positive relationships with others. These positive relationships will lead to happy, successful lives.”
“It gets the new school year started off on the right track,” said kindergarten teacher Betsy McGriff. “The kindergartners are immersed with our values right from the beginning, and all students are able to feel the importance placed on courtesy, respect and responsibility as members of the West family.”
The celebration this year culminated with teachers and staff marking the 40th anniversary of the school's opening in 1977. Teachers wore shirts to commemorate the occasion, which read "40 years of Leading, Learning, and Loving Kids."
Celebrating Without Limits: VHECH "Wanted" PostersPosted by Sharon Moon at 8/21/2017
Here at VHECH we strive to teach our students every day that character does count! We begin our day saying the VHECH PROMISE. Our promise talks about how we need to respect each other, show excellence, show compassion, and make wise choices. We strive for our students to begin demonstrating these character traits every day and especially when it might be hard for them. In my classroom; we made “WANTED POSTERS”. The students chose a character trait that they wanted others to see in them. We learned that when we do the right thing; that the reward for ourselves will be PRICELESS.
Celebrating Without Limits: VHECH Rebel RallyPosted by VHCS at 8/18/2017
Leading Without Limits: Heights' HelpersPosted by Alicia Hunsberger at 8/16/2017
At Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights, kicking off another great school year involves the engagement of student leadership teams. Students in fourth and fifth grade have the opportunity to apply to be a Heights’ Helper. This group of students take ownership of welcoming and assisting new students into the Cahaba Heights’ family. Heights’ Helpers greet younger students at the door and provide assistance in getting them to their classrooms. Every day Cahaba Heights’ students make a commitment to excellence through the VHECH promise. “We are so proud to watch our students uphold the promise they have committed to by serving in a variety of leadership roles throughout the school,” says Miss Hunsberger. The school year is off to a great start at Cahaba Heights.
Leading Without Limits: Kendall Carter & City Youth ConnectionPosted by Whit McGhee at 8/10/2017
Kendall Carter is passionate about her hometown of Vestavia Hills.
The rising Vestavia Hills High School senior is the creator of City Youth Connection (CYC), a new VHHS club that connects students with local businesses and hands-on learning about the city’s economic development initiatives.
Carter said her passion for learning about the Vestavia Hills community inspired her to reach out to several local leaders to help make CYC a reality.
“I love our community and the unity we have here,” Carter said.
“I realized in my sophomore year that we have so many great local volunteer opportunities, but I wanted students to have a club where they could learn how our community works and share their ideas,” she said.
CYC is sponsored by VHHS exceptional education teacher Pauline Parker. The club has 22 junior and senior members who work with the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce to promote events like Wing Ding, I Love America Day and Back 2 School in the Hills.
“I’m very impressed with these young people,” Chamber president Karen Odle said. “The students are so excited to be engaged in something really meaningful to the community.”
Carter said CYC plans to find more hands-on business and community learning opportunities in the coming year. “We have some ideas for community projects in Cahaba Heights and some of the parks around the city, and we’ve even talked about helping some of our businesses with their social media,” Carter said.
“We’ve been encouraging our businesses to engage more on social media, and this is one way we can help them because social media is so intuitive to young people. So, the students can mentor the businesses, and the businesses can mentor the students,” Odle said.
After high school, Carter said she plans to pursue a degree in business management, marketing or communication. She’s already off to a good start through her recent participation in Girls State as well as an economic development scholars’ program through Huntington College in Montgomery. Before she graduates, she’ll spend her senior year building a solid future for City Youth Connection and the students who follow in her footsteps.
“We have really great juniors, and I know they’re going to take CYC even further. I want them to be excited to learn and passionate about this community so they can put their ideas out there and keep coming together as Rebels,” Carter said.
Serving Without Limits: JDRF Kids Walk at WestPosted by VHCS at 6/20/2017
The 2016 - 2017 school year was the fifth year for Vestavia Hills Elementary West to host a JDRF Kids Walk, and they raised over $10,500. In total, they’ve raised $41,420.67 for type 1 diabetes (T1D) research!
Sharman Martin, head P.E. coach, serves as the school coordinator. The work she does is personal, because her nephew was diagnosed with T1D when he was in third grade. They are really close and every year she leads the Walk in honor of her nephew and all the students with T1D whom she has taught over the years.
Every day in P.E. for the two weeks that the students are fundraising, Sharman plays music to build excitement and displays the students’ JDRF paper sneakers in the gym to remind them to keep fundraising. Vestavia West also helps promote fundraising by putting up the Kids Walk on their Facebook page—and by celebrating “Put a Cap on Diabetes” day where the students can pay $1 to wear a hat.
Sharman says, “We are a big school so, to me, it is amazing to see how our whole community chooses to come together like family for JDRF. When I see the kids out walking, they may not fully understand why they are raising money and walking, but they are learning compassion.”
There is one face at Vestavia West that really makes the Kids Walk personal. Third-grader Caden James was diagnosed two days after his second birthday. Once the overwhelming reality of this disease settled in, his family jumped head first into the JDRF world. His mom Stacy says, “I think the Kids Walk is a phenomenal resource for Caden James and the school to better understand T1D. With him being an athlete and spending five days in school, it gives them a better idea of what he deals with on a daily basis.”
A special thanks to Sharman Martin, Ford McGuffey and Dyan Staub for working determinedly to make JDRF Kids Walk an event loved by everyone involved!
Leading Without Limits: Pizitz Teachers at AMLEPosted by Christa Brogan at 6/6/2017
In October 2017, three ELA 7 teachers from Pizitz Middle School presented at the AMLE annual conference in Austin, Texas. AMLE is the Association for Middle Educators, and their annual conference is described as the most valuable and comprehensive professional development opportunity in the world for any person working with students ages 10–15.Stratton Brock, Christa Brogan, and Brad Carpenter presented their House Cup program in a roundtable session. House Cup is a grade-wide program at Pizitz in which all 7th grade students are 'sorted' into houses much like those found in English boarding schools and the Harry Potter book series. Throughout the year, students earn points for their houses until, in May, a winning house is named and celebrated. This program allows for and promotes character, team-building, school spirit, and positive peer pressure among students.The Pizitz teachers presented on how to implement and maintain such a program to educators from across the US.
Celebrating Without Limits: Excellence in Vestavia 2016-17Posted by Oliver Aaron at 5/25/2017
There are 467 seniors. (205 of the seniors will graduate with the Advanced Academic with Honors Endorsement on their diplomas)
- 86% going to four-year colleges
- 10% going to two-year colleges
- 4% entering military, working full-time, or taking a “gap year”
- 23% will enroll in 63 different colleges in 23 states outside of Alabama
- 4 students will be studying outside of the United State
- Those staying in Alabama will enroll in 22 different colleges and universities
- 17 National Merit Finalists
- 7 National Merit Commended Students
- 67% of the graduates were offered scholarships. The amount offered is more than $31 million dollars (most in school history) and the accepted is more than $12 million (also the most in school history).
- The “We the People” Team won the district and state competition (for the 13th year in a row) and placed 8th in the nation.
- The math team won four tournaments in Georgia, including the University of Georgia and Columbus State University tournaments, and the LSU math tournament. All three teams won their state competition. The team also placed second in the Log1 international math competition sponsored by the Mu Alpha Theta math honor society.
- Approximately 1,026 Advanced Placement Exams were administered to 466 students
- Walker Burroughs, Markkus Griggs, Savannah Busby, Caroline Stair, Libby Rumore and Hannah Bogard were selected to participate in the All-State Choral Festival. Savannah Busby was selected as the District III Outstanding Choral Student. The following choirs received an overall superior rating at State Choral Performance Assessment: Women's Glee, Honor Choir, Show Choir, Women's Advanced, Women's Ensemble and AcaFellas. Show Choir and Just Singin’ received straight superior ratings at the ACDA Show Choir and Jazz Choir Festival. Show Choir participated in three competitions and received the following accolades: Grand Champion, Best Show Design, Best Vocal Sound, Best Choreography, Best Soloist within a Show (Erin Chatman) and the Dot Pugh Spirit of the Southern Showcase Award. The Choral Department was invited yet again to perform at Queens College and Carnegie Hall in New York City as part of the Choirs of America Choir Nationals. Just Singin’ was invited to perform at the Alabama Music Educator's Association Conference as the first and only pop a cappella group to ever be invited. Just Singin’ became an internet sensation with their viral video of "Hallelujah" gaining 5 million views. Just Singin' was invited to open for the professional a cappella group Vocalosity. Finally, Just Singin' was selected to open the National A Cappella Association Convention in Memphis, TN.
- The Rebel Marching Band earned superior ratings at marching band festivals in the fall of 2016. The band received first place and all Best in Class Awards at the West Alabama Marching Festival. All three Concert Bands received superior ratings at Music Performance Assessment.
- Seven were selected for the Alabama All-state Band. Eight students were selected for the Alabama All-State Orchestra. Twelve students were selected for the Alabama All-State Jazz Band. Two students were selected to perform with the Music for All Honor Band of America. 13 students were selected for the District IV Honor Band. Two students performed with the Macy’s All American Marching Band. One student performed in the Marching Honor Band of America in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Several students performed with honor bands at the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Samford University, UAB, and the University of Montevallo.
-15 of 21 teams qualified for state playoffs
-1 Team State Championship (Wrestling- Duals and Traditional State Champs)
-3 State Runner-ups (Boys Bowling, Boys Golf, Girls Soccer)
-5 Individual State Champions (Seniors listed below)
- Walter Thomas- Shot Put
- James Edwards- Wrestling
- The Relay for Life event raised more than $280,000 (the most ever) for Cancer Research. Proceeds went to two charities- The American Cancer Society and Open Hands Overflowing Hearts.
- SGA raised over $50,000 for Unless U during the Fall Charity
- We collected over 22,000 cans during the canned food drive
- Habitat for Humanity funded and built their twelfth house
- Three seniors received the PVSA, all at the bronze level for 100+ hours of service
This is just a sample of many more activities related to community service that occur throughout Vestavia Hills High School.
Learning Without Limits: Pizitz 2016-17 NovelistsPosted by Christa Brogan at 5/22/2017Nine Pizitz Middle School students completed, edited, and self-published novels during the 2016-2017 school year through a school-wide project led by the 7th grade English teachers.Students could write about whatever they wanted, but they had to achieve 5,000 words between November 1st and November 30th. In January they wrote query letters to Principal Hanson and included a synopsis of their story. From over 300 query letters, 20 students were approved for placement in the media center. They were given a month to edit and publish their books.From those 20, nine students chose to publish their books through the website createspace.com and make them available to the school.One copy of each published book will be placed in the Pizitz Media Center and will be available for check-out beginning in August, 2017.
Picture - from left to right: Wyatt Raley, Sara Hattaway, Laura Ellen Hayes, Blakely Berryhill, Elisabeth Doss, Faith Pennino. Not pictured: Madison Waldrop, Amelia Johnston, Gram Thornton.