Home Local News Richmond County school board OKs field trips, recognizes Special Olympics volunteers

Richmond County school board OKs field trips, recognizes Special Olympics volunteers

Volunteers with Richmond County Special Olympics were honored by the school board at Tuesday's meeting.
Richmond County Schools

HAMLET — The Richmond County Board of Education approved a pair of filed trips, recognized “Special” volunteers and discussed summer programs and a new state-mandated reading assesment program during its monthly meeting Tuesday. 

Of the two board-approved field trip requests, one of them will take students across the Atlantic to Italy and Spain in July of 2021. 

Richmond Senior science teacher Daniel Diggs, who made the request, said that he had an opportunity to travel as a student and  it changed his life. 

Diggs said more than 20 individuals have already expressed interest in the trip, which costs $3,800. 

Having the opportunity to plan financially for this trip two years in advance and making monthly payments makes it possible for more students, parents, and chaperones to take the overseas excursion, he said. 

The other field trip is to Washington, D.C. for Hamlet Middle School eighth-graders.

Director Donna Gephart reported about the Summer Reading Camp which took place at L.J. Bell and Fairview Heights. 

About 275 first-, second- and third-graders were part of this program, which gave the students the opportunity to participate in a variety of educational activities while building upon their reading skills. 

Special appreciation  was expressed by Gephart for site leaders Joy Watson and Wendy Taylor, the bus drivers, the nutritional staff, and the curriculum team. 

An update was also given regarding the Techy Kids Camp, which concluded Aug. 1, where students got a chance to learn about coding, drones, food preparation and more. 

The state of North Carolina has adopted a new reading assessment program — Istation. For many years, Richmond County Schools has been using mClass, a universal screening tool that measures the development of reading skills of students in grades K-3. Many teachers have expressed concerns and asked to keep mClass. 

However, since this is mandated by the state, the schools will be using the new Istation assessment tool. 


Skills which are tested with Istation include listening, vocabulary, phonemic awareness, decoding, spelling, reading comprehension, text fluency, and oral fluency. Training is being scheduled for the elementary teachers that will be using Istation in their classrooms.

Exceptional Children Director Dr. Amber Watkins introduced Theressa Smith, chairperson of Richmond County Special Olympics, who spoke about the athletic events that are held for students during the school year—bocce, bowling, and the spring games, which include running, jumping, and throwing. 

Smith wrote a grant to help with expenses this summer for a basketball and cheerleading camp. 

Volunteers are an invaluable part of the Special Olympics program, she said. Active members of the RC Special Olympics Board include Alicia Chase, Justin Dawkins, Christy Leviner, Artoria Smith, Stephanie Upton, Ryan Upton, and Adrienne Wilson. 

Most of the schools in the system are now participating in the Special Olympics and Watkins said she is hoping for increased participation this school year. Plaques were presented to the volunteers.

Board members shared their reports, including the School Safety Forum, a custodian who recently had surgery, and the loss of staff who passed away this summer. 

On Thursday, classes for Richmond Early College High School are set to begin and the annual Stuff the Bus campaign is scheduled for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Walmart.

The board went into closed session at the end of the meeting. 

The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 3.


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