Home Local News Richmond County School Board celebrates students, strengthens security

Richmond County School Board celebrates students, strengthens security

Members of the Richmond County Board of Education pose with the Richmond Senior men's basketball team on April 4. Photo by Chris McDonald

HAMLET — The monthly meeting of the Richmond County Board of Education took place Tuesday evening with various celebrations of student and athletic excellence, uniform policy and security systems.


The annual spelling bee was held on March 30 at the Cole Auditorium. Joseph Odom, an eighth-grader at Rockingham Middle, was the winner with Hadley Babert of L.J. Bell Elementary finishing as runner-up.

“Both students displayed exceptional spelling skills and composure while under pressure,” said Hayley Gordon, director of Gifted Education.

Click here to read more about the spelling bee.


“Nothing more exciting than what we went through this season,” said Richmond Senior High School Principal Jim Butler. “It was something I thought that brought the community together…”

Butler went on to laud the accomplishments of the RSHS men’s basketball team who compiled a 28-3 overall record and finished as runner-up in the state play-offs.

Head Coach Donald “Bootsie” Pettigrew said that they were much more than a team that they were a true family. “I come from a two-family home, my mom and dad were always in my life and what you all have done for me I’m trying to do the same thing for them.”

Multiple players and coaches reflected upon the family environment that Pettigrew has extolled in his coaching.

Click here to read a recap of the season.


Hayley Gordon announced that Hadley Gardner, Gabriel Lutz and Damian Moore would be attending Governors School this summer.

“This is a prestigious program which is designed to enhance the educational experience of gifted and talented high school students and have only accepted a small number of applicants this year,” said Gordon.

“This program will provide a unique opportunity for Hadley, Gaby and Damian to engage in advanced studies and to explore their academic passions.

“Their acceptance to the N.C. Governor’s School program is a testament to their exceptional academic abilities and their potential to make a positive impact on their community and beyond.”

Gordon also recognized AIG teacher Nikki Covington for her assistance to the students during the application process.

Click here to read more about the Governor’s School students.


Melvin Ingram, executive director of Auxiliary Services, presented an update on the uniform policy.

“We’ve had the opportunity to hear from 13 out of 15 schools and they provided additional focus group data to add to our survey data providing clarity about issues surrounding our uniform policy and possible next steps in terms of revision of our uniform policy,” said Ingram.

Board member Cory Satterfield inquired about public response to the meetings.

“What have been the thoughts of the public at the meetings whether to have uniforms or not?” asked Satterfield.

“I think we get a strong feeling from the community that we need to move from a uniform policy to a dress code,” said Ingram, “I think there’s consensus about that.”
Satterfield had concerns about continually adding to the policy.


“I’m not interested in adding things to a uniform policy,” said Satterfield. “We already have too many additions already to the uniform policy. That would just create chaos.”

Board member Darryl Mason expressed concern about enforcing the policy.

“Just keep in mind,” said Mason, “the more you add the more you have to enforce, the more you enforce, it’s most likely gonna cause kids to be out of school.”

Last year, a student organized a petition to eliminate the uniform policy. Click here to read that story.

OpenGate Threat Detection Devices for RSHS

Ingram also addressed the board about adding a new security system to RSHS.

“In the fall of 2022, we were awarded a safety grant of $1.5 million for safety equipment, SRO security and training for all schools,” said Ingram. “But this is a screening solution for Richmond Senior High School. It’s called OpenGate, it’s a weapon-detection system designed for screening people in transit.

“We’re hoping to purchase OPENGATE to increase our capacity to screen students. You have a quote for $79,579.99 for this OpenGate system. “

Chairman Wiley Mabe endorsed the new screening system at RSHS.

“This new system speeds it (security screening),” said Mabe, “and I hope that this will take a load off Mr. Butler.”

The board unanimously approved purchase of the system.

The board then entered a closed session and soon adjourned.

The next Board of Education meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 2 at 5 p.m.

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