Category Archives: Education

What parents need to know about kindergarten registration

Kindergarten registration runs Feb. 8 – 12

Monroe, NC—Welcome Class of 2029! Kindergarten registration for Union County Public Schools will run Feb. 8-12. Parents should register their child at the elementary school located in their attendance area.

“Entering kindergarten is an exciting time for children and families because it marks the beginning of a new and exciting phase of a child’s life,” said Dr. Cindy Croffut, director of elementary education. “In preparation for kindergarten, parents can be a great support as they work with their child at home to establish routines, create independence, and build excitement about school.”

To enroll in kindergarten in North Carolina, eligible children must have reached their fifth birthday on or before Aug. 31 (of the year of entrance). Parents should bring copies of their child’s birth certificate, immunization record, two proofs of residence and the Kindergarten Health Assessment Form before the first day of school. Items that qualify for proof of residence are: a notarized rental agreement or purchase agreement on a residence; a utility bill such as telephone, gas or electricity, that list the correct name and address; a driver’s license and automobile registration; an automobile insurance policy; a property insurance policy; an income tax W-2 form; or a property tax bill.

In addition, according to the North Carolina state law, all children entering kindergarten must present documented evidence of having received immunizations and physical examinations before attending school. Parents must have their doctor or the health department complete the Kindergarten Health Assessment (KHA) Report, which can be picked up from any elementary school. An up-to-date certificate of immunizations must also be submitted to the school.

Immunizations needed are as follows:

  • DTaP/DT vaccine – five doses (if the fourth dose was given on or after their fourth birthday, the fifth dose is not required)
  • Polio IPV vaccine – four doses (if the third dose was given on or after the fourth birthday, the fourth dose is not required)
  • MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) – two doses (first dose on or after their first birthday; second dose before school entry)
  • Hepatitis B vaccine – three doses (third dose must be after child is 6 months old) HIB – at least one dose on/after 15 months of age (not required after age 5)
  • Varicella (Chicken Pox) – two doses (required for children entering Kindergarten after July 1, 2015)

If parents have questions about kindergarten registration, they should contact the school located in their attendance area. For information about open house visits, parents are encouraged to check school web sites or call the main office for details.

Click here to view the 2016 Kindergarten handbook.

(article courtesy of UCPS)


Students ‘Mix It Up’ to Help Fight Bullying, Make New Friends

The concept is simple: talk to people you don’t normally talk to. The impact of this simple act, however, can be profound.

Porter Ridge Middle School seventh-grade counselor Laura Conway hands a ticket to a student that tells her where to sit in the cafeteria.
Porter Ridge Middle School seventh-grade counselor Laura Conway hands a ticket to a student that tells her where to sit in the cafeteria.

Approximately 1,400 students at Porter Ridge Middle School participated in a national anti-bullying effort called Mix It Up at Lunch Day Tuesday (Oct. 27).

Counselors asked students to move outside their comfort zones by connecting with someone new over lunch. When a student interacts with someone from a different background, studies show this can reduce prejudice, biases and misperceptions.

“It gets students to interact with students across socio-economic status, regardless of popularity or grades. They sit with students that they wouldn’t normally talk to,” said Porter Ridge Middle seventh-grade counselor Laura Conway.
“It encourages communications in hopes that it will foster friendships and break down barriers to help them see that this person sitting across from them, who they normally would not have even looked at, may have the same interests as they do,” Conway said.
The school’s sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade counselors organized the effort, giving students numbers at random that led them to a table in the cafeteria where other students with those same numbers were seated.
Counselors placed conversation starters on each table with a variety of questions in hopes of sparking conversation. Questions ranged from “Who is your favorite super hero?” to “If you were invisible, what would you do?”
“I like this a lot,” said sixth grader Ben Lavigne, 11. “It’s good for kids who are too shy to make new friends. It makes them more outgoing.“
“It’s pretty cool,” said sixth grader Kira Durbin, 11. “You get to met new people. I’ve learned a lot. The most interesting thing I’ve learned is what they’ve wished for. Mckenzi (Jones) wishes she were invisible and Cara (Neal) wishes she had fairy wings.”

Mckenzi Jones, 11, at left, Cara Neal, 11, and Kira Durbin, 11, get to know each other during lunch on Mix It Up At Lunch Day at their
Mckenzi Jones, 11, at left, Cara Neal, 11, and Kira Durbin, 11, get to know each other during lunch on Mix It Up At Lunch Day at their school.

Kira said she thought the activity would go a long way toward stopping bullying. “You get to meet new people, and tell them about yourself. You might make a new friend and they might watch out for you if you’re ever bullied.”

Sixth grader Christin Natali-Gergich, 11, agrees. “I think the more friends you have, the less chance you’ll get bullied,” he said. “It’s usually the kids who don’t have a lot of friends or who have a hard time making friends, that are the ones getting bullied.”
This is the second year that PRMS has participated in Mix It Up, a national campaign launched by Teaching Tolerance more than 10 years ago. PRMS does such a great job, it has been chosen as a model school for this effort.

To emphasize the Mix It Up concept, students were also told to mix up their wardrobe, wearing very creative clothing choices that didn’t necessarily match.
“It’s fun, people look crazy and it’s fun to see what people do,” said sixth grader Nicky Viele, 12. “Doing this, no one is lonely because they make new friends. Then if they have a friend they have someone to talk to.”

PRMS counselors (Conway, Melissa Ladez (sixth grade) and Sara Moser (eighth grade) decided to hold Mix It Up at Lunch Day during the school’s Red Ribbon Week, to coincide with the national campaign for drug awareness. “From an adult’s point of view, I thought it went very well, but I will be excited to survey students and see what they think,” Conway said.

–This article was written by UCPS Communications Coordinator Deb Coates Bledsoe and provided courtesy of the Communications Office of the Union County Public Schools.

UCPS Graduation Rates and School Performance “Grades” Released

report cardUCPS has issued a press release with highlights of the system’s performance based on state-mandated “accountability measures” that were released today.

(For some perspective, read this article about “grading” schools and this article about last year’s results.)

More analysis is sure to follow, but here is the article from UCPS:

UCPS graduation rate is highest in school system history, more students on grade level for 2014-15 school year

Monroe, NC—The state of North Carolina and Union County Public Schools released several accountability measures for the 2014-15 school year. UCPS announced today that its four-year graduation cohort rose to 93 percent for 2015, up from 92.6 percent in 2014. The four-year graduation cohort measures the percentage of students who graduate in four years. This is the highest graduation rate in the school system’s history. For five years, UCPS has shown a steady gain in its graduation rate.

Two high schools, Central Academy of Arts and Technology and the Union County Early College, had a graduation rate at 100 percent. Seven of UCPS 12 high schools had a rate of 90 percent or higher. Schools that scored above 95 percent are Weddington (99.7), Marvin (99.5), Cuthbertson (98.5) and Porter Ridge (95.7).

In addition, of the 10 largest school districts in the state, UCPS has the highest graduation rate. The North Carolina graduation rate is 85.4 percent.

“This is the highest graduation rate we’ve ever seen in Union County Public Schools and I want to commend our students, principals, staff and parents for working hard and staying focused,” said Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis. “While I am pleased with this progress, I am not resting on these numbers. I would like to see all high school students earn a high school diploma.”

The state also released results from the READY initiative which measures academic growth and proficiency. Growth reflects the academic progress students made during the course of one school year.


In the 2014-15 school year, more UCPS students performed on grade level than the previous year. In addition, test results show that 74 percent of schools met or exceeded academic growth goals for 2014-15.

The district performance composite was 63.3 percent for College and Career Readiness and 72.1 percent for Grade Level Proficiency. This compares to 62.2 percent and 71.5 percent in 2013-14.

As a requirement of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, formerly known as No Child Left Behind, schools are measured against Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO). These objectives are a series of performance targets that states, school districts and specific subgroups of students must achieve each year to meet federal requirements. In 2014-15, 21 out of 52 or 40.4 percent of schools met AMOs. The number of schools that met AMOs in 2013-14 was 26.

“The targets and subgroups will increase each year and this means we have to do more to close achievement gaps in our schools,” Ellis said. “We’ve seen the data and we know where improvements are needed.”

2014-15 READY Accountability Data Highlights:

  • 72.1 percent of 3-8 graders met grade level proficiency (Levels 3-5)
  • 63.3 percent of 3-8 graders met College and Career Ready measures (Levels 4-5)
  • 74 percent of schools met or exceeded academic growth goals in 2014-15
  • 15 schools (30%) exceeded expected growth
  • 22 schools (44%) met expected growth
  • 13 schools (26%) did not meet expected growth
  • 91.1 percent of third graders were proficient in reading following the Read to Achieve summer camp

For the second year, North Carolina has released performance grades for schools. As required by state legislation, School Performance Grades are based on 80 percent of the school’s achievement score and 20 percent on students’ academic growth.

Based on state measures, out of the 50 schools that were scored in Union County Public Schools, 44 (88%) earned a score of C or better and 14 (28%) schools received an A or better.  In addition, the state added an A+ grade to the list of designations and 8 schools received this distinction.

Three schools, Wolfe, Walter Bickett Education Center and South Providence, were not scored because they do not fit the NC Performance Grades model. School grades are provided on a 15-point scale.

For additional district and state data, visit


Allergy Safe School Celebrations

Union County Homeroom welcomes guest author, Kerri Sperduto, who is raising awareness about childhood allergies in our classrooms. 

Love skittlesAs the first day of school quickly approaches, the subject of classroom celebrations and birthday treats again comes to the forefront. I have often wondered if it would be ok if  I I brought in huge, beautifully decorated birthday treats for only the children with allergies. Would it be acceptable if it happened 25 times in a year and there was a class that has only 1 child that did not have any food allergies? Is it ok if only that 1 child was repeatedly skipped over and over and someone flippantly said,  “Sorry, you can’t have this, you don’t have allergies”?

What about a lunch table where the child sat by himself because he was the only one eating something different? Would it become more acceptable to him because he was “used to it” and it isn’t our fault he is “different”, right ? Imagine him sitting at a different table from his  classmates, sometimes just sitting by himself , and  looking  over to see HIS  class giggling and telling jokes, talking about what they did over the weekend and everyday feeling isolated. What about a celebration where you see the cupcakes being passed out but no one even glances  in your direction?

Parents could pack an extra snack but I wonder if the adults realize how excited a child is when someone thinks of him and includes him in the celebration. There are items made that are safe for most allergens, or auto immune deficiencies and diabetes. Honestly, it is never about the food. Food is just fuel for your body and we can all take different fuel. It is about the social impact. It is feeling invisible or just a “problem” to be dealt with. Knowing you matter, that someone cares, means the world to a child. And yes, even the kid that is “tough” or “used to it” still will get upset when they get home.

I know it isn’t easy and I understand how busy everyone is but when the beginning of the year comes, let’s talk about it! Let’s work together to come up with a plan. Let’s see if we CAN include everyone. If you can, please keep in mind that going to a restaurant or a birthday party can be a choice but school is not. And yes, they will have to learn what it is like to navigate the world with allergies but not yet. Children will have to one day hold a full time job and learn how to mange bills but not  yet. Right now we are giving them the tools and the support necessary to reach that goal…one day. Thats what the parents of children with allergies  are doing too.  Believe me, they have to give up a lot and they never have a moment that they “forget”, they have to remember and carry life-saving medication with them every where they go, but they do not have to be responsible for everything and we can all help support them. The lessons learned are lessons we want to teach ALL of out children such as tolerance, acceptance, empathy and compassion. My mother often said to me that the right path was usually not the easy path. But it would be worth it.

There are things that can be done. There are companies that make items completely safe. Most people, including myself before my childrens’ diagnosis, that  current labeling laws do not make it necessary for companies to identify if a product is made on a shared line or processed with. The companies do not have to list allergens that pose a risk. Some would think that may not be a big deal but a mistake happens 7% of the time (according to independent testing). That’s  playing Russian Roulette. Most people do not realize that parents of allergic children are calling companies to discuss their procedures for actually making foods. Most are not safe. Some companies label voluntarily. Some companies do better than that and are made in a Top 8 allergen free facility. Enjoy Life is a brand that is often used.  Philly Swirlz Italian ices. Or, maybe, it is time we can begin to think outside the box. Non food treats like stickers, glow in the dark bracelets, tattoos, having a child sit in a special chair and share a favorite book, a parent coming in to have a special lunch with their child.

Please know that when someone does include the child, the child is so amazed, excited and appreciative and so are the parents!  The child comes running home to say how their friend understood and offered something safe! As a parent, there are no words to thank you enough.  And to those that are just being introduced to school or who just never were friends with someone and didn’t understand the challenges presented..that’s ok. I was one of those parents too. I didn’t get it. My 2 oldest did not have allergies. Please, just remember that children with different needs are not trying to be “difficult.” They don’t want this. They are just children trying to figure out a way to fit in….isn’t that what all of our children want?

Kerrie Sperduto was a first grade teacher in NY  and relocated to Waxhaw 7 years ago. She has  been happily married for 18 years and is busy raising their 5 children ranging in ages from 14-5.  Two of her daughters are anaphylactic to multiple foods including peanuts, treenuts, milk, egg, bananas and cumin.  She volunteers as Sunday School Coordinator and Teacher, Class Mom, Team Mom, and Girl Scout Leader.