School board honors students for ‘Celebrating Success’


The Switzerland County School Board held its May meeting on Monday night, and again the school board honored students from each of the four buildings as the “Celebrating Success” winners for the month.

Students are nominated by a teacher in the building; and one winner is then selected from those nominations by the building principal. Students and parents are then invited to the school board meeting; where each student is recognized and receives a pin of appreciation from the school board.

This month’s winners include:

– At Switzerland County Middle School, this month’s winner is Jonathan Moore. He is an eighth grader, and was nominated for the award by staff members Joan Hickman Leanne Repper. Principal Nancy Stearns approved the nomination.

In their letter or recommendation, Joan Hickman and Leanne Repper wrote:

“This student goes above and beyond in the classroom. His work is completed early and written assignments are very thorough. The thing that stands out above the classroom are his manners. His respect for adults is refreshing for today.

“We went on a trip as a class, this student dried a wet bench seat and then gave it up to an adult. He held doors and umbrellas for the adults in his group. His ability to hold conversation with adults showed his maturity. He is a true gentleman.”

– This month’s nominee at Switzerland County High School is junior Tabitha Arnoldy. She was nominated by Spanish teacher Julee Cole, and the nomination was approved by principal Candis Haskell.

In her letter of recommendation, Julee Cole wrote:

“I would like to nominate Tabitha Arnoldy for Celebrating Success. Tabitha, or ‘Francisca’, as she is known in Spanish class, is a pleasure to be around daily. She is always in good spirits, accepts her assigned tasks without complaint, and meets her challenges head on. As a teacher, I know that I can depend on her to stay positive in my classroom and to encourage her classmates.

“Francisca is a role model for all of her peers. I genuinely appreciate her enthusiastic participation, and I especially appreciate her having a sincere and optimistic attitude towards learning the Spanish language. Students like Francisca make teaching a pleasure. Buen trabajo, Francisca, y gracias! (Good work, Francisca, and thank you!).”

– Jefferson-Craig Elementary School’s nominee for the month of May is kindergarten student James Cunningham. He was nominated by teacher Becky Bunner, and also by staff member George Breden. That nomination was approved by principal Dr. Elizabeth Jones.

In their letter of nomination, the teachers wrote:

“We are very pleased to be able to write this letter of nomination for James Cunningham. Having worked with James in kindergarten over the course of this year at Jefferson Craig Elementary School, we can say quite frankly that James’ academic efforts, his remarkable character, and the impressive progress that he has shown have made this work a distinct pleasure for us for the entire school year.

“James is working extra hard in kindergarten. He is not only learning to read and do math, he is doing so while also learning his first language – American Sign Language. James is profoundly deaf, and although a recent cochlear implant may aid a transition to spoken language, he has up to this point met the additional challenge of receiving all of his instruction and interaction through the visual mode of signs.

“Despite all of the additional challenges that James faces, which must become frustrating at times, he demonstrates a great deal of patience and warmth. He welcomes others’ attempts to communicate – frequently repositioning the fingers of his teachers and classmates to form the correct signs. James has made many good friends through being helpful and compassionate; through his quick, inventive, pervasive physical humor; and, not to sound trite – but without any better phrase to describe it justly – through his possession of an unremittingly “sunny” disposition. From the time James enters the classroom to the time he goes home at the end of the day, he is almost always smiling. Even with little to no conversation, James wins over students and staff alike as the force of his personality shines through.

“As impressive as James’ social accomplishments are, however, it cannot be emphasized strongly enough just how much academic progress he has made this year. Although he started the year with a clear ability to communicate, it was from a position of almost no true language use – in understanding and exhibiting the patterns, the syntax and pragmatics, of language – to which he has now come to be on grade level in several key areas. From the point of even needing to learn where to direct his attention in order to receive language input, James now utilizes his interpreter confidently and has greatly increased his ability to stay on task. He can recognize and sign the letters of the alphabet. He can sign numbers and count up to 30.

“He uses a calendar, knows the days of the week, the parts of a book, the names and value of coins, and the names and sequence of the seasons. He has increased his sign language vocabulary by more than three times what it w as at the start of the year – and perhaps most impressively, without the aid of phonics he now reads all of the kindergarten sight words, plus many more. As a final example, James’ language has progressed from an inchoate beginning at the start of the year all the way to a recently successful lesson on such abstractions as the meaning of ‘to tell the truth’ versus ‘to lie.’

“It is therefore with sincere conviction that we enthusiastically nominate James Cunningham to be the recipient of Switzerland County School Corporation’s “Celebrating Success” award. The monumental steps he has taken this year in his education and development make him richly deserving.”

– The nominee for the month of May from Switzerland County Elementary School is fourth grader Morgan Arnold. She was nominated by teacher Peggy Eckerty, and that nomination was approved by principal Mike Jones.

In her letter of support, Peggy Eckerty wrote:

“I am privileged to nominate Morgan Arnold for the Celebrate Success award. Morgan is almost always prepared. I recall a couple of days last fall when she couldn’t find her agenda book. I said, ‘Morgan, It’s okay. You’ll find it.’ She did. Life goes on. As Morgan’s teacher, that’s fine. I think that’s the only time this year when Morgan had to ‘get prepared.’ She always is. In her preparedness, Morgan does well. She is consistently on the Honor Roll.

“I find Morgan to be respectful. She is always ready to lend a helping hand. I can always count on her to do the right thing. I think that Morgan has all of the ingredients she needs to make her own success, and I wish her well. Congratulations, Morgan.”