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"We will be a school/district with an unrelenting focus on learning. All students are expected to succeed; failure is not an option."
Ashdown High School is stirring with excitement about Homecoming 2014, which is themed "Breakfast of Champions!" for this year's activities, with each class choosing a cereal brand to incorporate into their float and banner designs. The entire week of Sept. 22-26 is filled with opportunities for students and the community to show their spirit and support of Ashdown High School and the AHS Panthers, leading up to the Homecoming football contest with the Mena Bearcats on Friday, Sept. 26.
Spirit Dress-Up Days for all Ashdown students gives everyone a chance to participate in competition. Monday, Sept. 22 is Makin' It Maui Monday (Beach Day); Tuesday the 23th is Turn Your Swag On Tuesday (Dress your best!). Represent your class with color on Color War Wednesday -- Seniors wear red, Juniors - blue, Sophomores - green, and Freshmen - orange. Thursday is Throwback Thursday - 70s style! Friday, Sept. 26, of course, is Flaunt Your Fan Style; wear Purple and Gold! The journalism staff is awarding prizes for the best-dressed students each day.
In addition to Spirit Dress-Up Days, classes also will challenge each other in competitions throughout the week. Each will create and display a banner in the cafeteria, play against each other in the annual Powder Puff games on Tuesday night, participate in a canned food drive for the Methodist Church food pantry, and enter a float in the Homecoming Parade on Friday afternoon.
The Tuesday Night Lights Powder Puff games on Tuesday, beginning at 6:30 in Dick Hays Stadium, are sponsored by the AHS Student Council, and because it is the only fundraiser for the StuCo, every attendee, including participants, will pay a $3 entry charge. The competition is fierce between the teams, and the Powder Puff "cheer-guys" are always entertaining. The public is encouraged to attend and enjoy.
AHS students invite everyone to kick up the spirit and be part of the fun and excitement leading up to Homecoming night in Dick Hays Stadium. Ashdown schools will dismiss at noon on Friday, Sept. 26 so that everyone is free to attend a public pep rally at 1:00 in the stadium, when the Homecoming Court and Senior Panthers will be introduced. The parade through downtown will follow immediately. Coronation of the 2014 Homecoming Queen will be at 6:45, and the Ashdown-Mena game will kick off at 7:30.
Homecoming is principally a time for AHS alumni to reunite and celebrate. This year, classes that end in "4" will be recognized at all of the public events, and each is encouraged to enter a float in the parade on Friday afternoon, tailgate in the alumni facilities adjacent to the football field, sit together during the Homecoming game, and then attend the Alumni Banquet on Saturday evening, Sept. 27 in the AHS cafeteria. For further information about any of these opportunities, the high school office phone number is 870-898-3562.
Long-time educator Shirley Rayfield has been named as the Grand Marshall of the 2014 Ashdown High School Homecoming parade to begin at approximately 2:00 on Friday, Sept. 26. Rayfield will also crown the 2014 Homecoming Queen at coronation ceremonies at 6:45 prior to the 7:30 kick-off of the Ashdown vs Mena Homecoming football game that evening.
Rayfield has 31 years experience as an educator before retiring in 2003. After receiving her B.S.E. from ETSU-Texarkana (presently TAMU-Texarkana) , she worked first as an elementary math teacher in Nash, Texas, and then began her teaching career in Ashdown with four years at kindergarten, eight years at second grade, and finally fifteen years as an administrator for grades K-4. Between her teaching years and her administrative years, Rayfield also served as a Reading Specialist for the Arkansas Department of Education for a year and for the DeQueen-Mena Education Cooperative for two years.
During those working years, Rayfield also earned a kindergarten certification, a Master's degree in reading K-12, and an administrator's certification from TAMU-Texarkana.
Rayfield comments that she "loved every day in school and, if I had it to do over, I would do exactly the same thing." She also states that what she misses most is knowing all the children in town. "I love when they come up," she says, "and ask if I remember them."
Rayfield's children Tommy Jr., Brent, and Callie Jo are all graduates of Ashdown High School. Callie Jo continues her mother's calling as an educator by serving as an elementary school principal in Arkadelphia, and Rayfield's daughter-in-law Quincey is the counselor at Ashdown High School. Rayfield also has another daughter-in-law Mary and seven grandchildren .
Ashdown Schools views its contact and communication with parents and community as one of its foremost responsibilities and has established its district website for that express purpose.
Located at www.ashdownschools.org, the Ashdown School District website offers just about any information a visitor would be seeking -- campus and faculty contact information, lunch menus and pay systems, school calendar and events, even a recorded version of the AHS Alma Mater and Fight Song played by the AHS Purple Pride band!
Campus and district news, both archives and the most up-to-date, can be found on the website, along with all state-required documentation including board meeting minutes, personnel policies, ACSIP plans, and Average Yearly Progress reports, plus more.
Ashdown School District subscribes to School Success for Parents and posts both Elementary and Secondary School Success Ideas for Parents on its homepage. These posts are updated daily and include Idea of the Day, Timely Topics, Ask the Experts, Weekly Quiz, and School Success Library. In the same area of the homepage, viewers can also find Today's Tip for Parents in both elementary and secondary versions.
Ashdown School District encourages all parents and other involved community members to use the district website as their go-to-site location for school-related information and to be always informed where our school children are concerned. A copy of the district handbook, in full, can also be located on the website by clicking "Parents & Students" on the menu bar.
The NAMM Foundation (National Association of Music Merchants) recently recognized Ashdown Public Schools for its outstanding commitment to music education with a Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) designation. Ashdown Public School joins 376 districts across the country in receiving the prestigious distinction in 2014.
Over 2000 music programs submitted surveys that asked detailed questions about what each campus offered to their K-12 students. Donna Gabbard, Ashdown’s K-3 Elementary Music instructor, answered a series of detailed questions about the opportunities for music education K-12. "All Ashdown K-5 students attend General Music classes for one hour a week, and the junior high and senior high students (grades 6-12) are also given the opportunity to participate in either Vocal or Instrumental Music Education," she wrote.
In its 15th year, Best Communities for Music Education affirms school districts that have demonstrated exceptional efforts toward maintaining music education as part of the schools’ core curriculum.
Mrs. Gabbard wrote an essay praising the involvement and attendance of her students and their parents for each first through third program that she has the opportunity to work with. She commented that these same students and parents often continue their community support for the upper elementary music programs and for the junior high and high school band performances throughout the school year.
Other educators in the district verifying this support include Annette Epperson, vocal/music teacher of grades 4-12, and band directors Josh Jackson and Chelsa Keathley. Additional credit should be given to Mark Pounds, Ashdown High School band director for 18 years and now AHS assistant principal.
Since before 2000, Ashdown’s Purple Pride Marching Band established its "Tradition of Excellence" by being consistently considered a Sweepstakes Band at Arkansas Showcase of Band competitions and has also been the recipient of the highly esteemed Brandon Award for more than half of those years. In addition, Ashdown students at both the junior high and senior high levels have been successful in making the All-Region Bands and All-State Bands, with dozens of band students earning those honors.
Additional honors earned by Ashdown band students include inclusion in area honor bands and orchestras and even performing in America's Band at the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Many Ashdown band students continue their career in music with scholarships and perform at the college level.
As Ashdown Public School finalizes its 2014–2015 budgets, the announcement of this year’s Best Communities for Music Education designation brings attention to the importance of keeping music education part of school’s core education and music’s vital role in student success in school.
"We are very proud and honored to have been awarded the Best Communities in Music Education award, states Ashdown School Superintendent Jason Sanders. "This award is a direct reflection of the quality students and staff that we have in our music and band departments here at Ashdown. This is just one more piece of evidence of how Ashdown Schools offers one of the best educations in the State of Arkansas," Sanders concludes.
The Best Communities for Music Education program plays an important part of the NAMM Foundation’s efforts to make music education part of the core curriculum assuring that the benefits of music making are available to every child. Numerous studies have demonstrated that learning to play music can boost academic and social skills, lower disciplinary action and keep kids in schools.
The BCME survey requires districts to answer detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kansas, an affiliate of the University of Kansas.