CORDOVA — This was a school year the new Cordova Cavaliers would like to remember — although it can be difficult to get a resounding verbal endorsement from mostly monosyllabic middle-schoolers.
“It was good, I guess,” eighth-grader Caylie Holden said Thursday.
“It was more fun for me,” said eighth-grader Nathan Turner.
“It’s smaller. It’s cleaner,” said seventh-grader Lanesha Williams. “It’s all right.”
But when the students held markers in their hands, and wore white or yellow T-shirts on their torsos … Then the enthusiasm came out.
In the gym, on the grass of the outside courtyard and in the classrooms where they marked time until dismissal at noon, students spent much of the day autographing one another’s shirts and appendages. (Arms and hands were a favorite, though seventh-grader Dylan Bryant also bore blue dry-erase slashes across his face and left ear.)
“Memories, I guess,” said towering seventh-grader Dylan Locklear, explaining why about 50 people — many of them teammates who also had inscribed their uniform numbers — had scribbled on the yellow Cavaliers shirt he received on awards day Wednesday. “(I’ll) probably hang it up somewhere.”
The shirt was a reward for participating in at least three school sports. Holden had one, too, as did many other students, a good number of them first-time participants in sports.
If anyone waxed near eloquent about the changes this year brought after the move from the dark, fence-bound Rohanen Middle School, he or she mentioned sports.
Participation rose this year, Principal Kevin Ransom said, citing the school’s new, emerald-green football field, its properly sized ball field and the commons area bound by wings of the school. And so did pride and confidence, he said. (Just wait till the new gym opens next year, he added with a grin.)
Implementation of a discipline program emphasizing positive behavior also reaped benefits, he said. Plus, the lighter, brighter school — which sits under a wide, blue country sky and not overhanging trees — has architecture more conducive to good behavior: There’s nowhere to lurk and behave poorly.
“Things are looking up,” said Ransom, who became principal at Rohanen last year and moved to Cordova with his students. “It’s been a positive change for us.”
Of course, he admitted that on the last day of school, “they’re all over the place right now.”
As students counted down the time until release, staff both closed out the old year and prepared for the new.
Folding tables and classroom desks lined hallway walls.
School nurse Tami Brown handed back students’ EpiPens and emergency inhalers, then searched for zippered bags to make up first aid packs for next year.
Teachers will work today and at least one day next week, closing out their grade books, purging digital folders. And Ransom must finish staff evaluations.
Seventy-five students also will return Tuesday and Wednesday for “remediation camp,” so they will be prepared to retake the eighth-grade end-of-course test required for them to be promoted — alongside grades and attendance totals.
“Just closing it out,” Ransom said Thursday.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]