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Elizabethton School Board looks forward to the first year back from COVID

By Nic Miller
Star Correspondent

The Elizabethton City School Board met on Thursday evening for their July monthly meeting to discuss and vote on things regarding the upcoming school year, the first “normal” year for the school system since 2019.

Congratulations were in order to begin the meeting as the first order of business was to recognize T.A. Dugger Track and Field athlete Jeremiah Norris for his State Championship in the 110-meter hurdles competition.

Norris was awarded a plaque and medal by coach Brandi McCloud to celebrate his achievements during the season and throughout the State Tournament.

McCloud spoke on Norris, saying, “There is a lot of talent that you can have in a sport, but a lot of it is dedication and hard work that goes into it, and Jeremiah is an athlete and student who put in the hours and was dedicated to what he did.”

“That is what we get into coaching for, is to push these students and help them understand that they are capable of doing great things.”

One large item brought up during the Thursday meeting was about how things are going to look for Elizabethton City Schools after a year-long COVID-19 pandemic.

School Board Director Richard VanHuss addressed those in attendance, saying, “We are excited about the potential of having a somewhat normal year this fall. We have made a reopening plan for our schools, and some highlights from that plan include our emphasis on good hygiene and handwashing within the schools.

“It looks as if we are on the other side of this pandemic, but those are still good practices that we have always focused on and we will continue to do that. We are also going to social distance as much as we can in classrooms, and my recommendation is to highly encourage masks for those students that are not vaccinated this upcoming school year.”

Also in terms of plans for the upcoming school year, primarily for Elizabethton High School, is the budget for the XQ program that has impacted high school students for the past few years.

Elizabethton High School principal Dr. Jon Minton spoke about the XQ program and plans for the upcoming year, saying, “The budget for the XQ program is built around a set of milestones that are set by us. Two years ago we administered a survey to our faculty about things they experienced as a result of XQ funding as well as things they wanted to do or learn and opportunities that they wanted to pursue.”

“An example from last year, we used $100,000 from the XQ budget to purchase Chromebooks for the students. An example from this year is professional development materials such as books, journals, and magazines for faculty to use over the summer for school transformation.”

Minton continued by discussing new ideas for the XQ budget, saying, “One thing that is up for approval tonight is some collaborative furniture for students to use between A and B hall of the high school.”

An implementation that would make students more comfortable at school, it was an idea that was not even required to have a vote. Approval for the furniture required only a signature from the board chair.

However, the board thought it was best to bring it to a vote and inform the public of what the funds in the XQ project were being used for. 

With things going well for Elizabethton City Schools in terms of not only making it through the pandemic but also through funding from sources such as XQ, the future is bright for education in Elizabethton.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting for Elizabethton City Schools will be held on August 19 at 5:30 p.m. The school board meets monthly at the Mack Pierce Board Room in the offices of the Elizabethton Board of Education at 804 S. Watauga Avenue in Elizabethton.