Two Valley seniors graduate early

Published 7:30 pm Thursday, December 20, 2018

LaFAYETTE — The Chambers County Board of Education central office meeting room offered standing room only Wednesday night as it was packed with family members of two graduating students.

Although the semester is only halfway over, Valley High School seniors Austin Calvert and Dyamond Mathews had done enough work online and in the classroom to graduate early.

“You guys don’t understand what it means to us to have special graduations during the year,” said Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge as “pomp and circumstance” played to welcome in the new graduates. “These are just additional success stories, and we are so excited to do these mid-year graduation ceremonies.”

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Calvert and Mathews donned the traditional blue robes as they were applauded by the crowd and bragged on by their administrators Ken Sealy, Sherry Ashe and Sharon Weldon.

“He made us all incredibly proud and actually laid a path for the virtual school students who came behind him,” Ashe, principal of Valley High said of Calvert.

Sealy, Career Technical Center Director, spoke on Mathews.

“Last school year, Diamond came to me and told me she wanted to do virtual school,” he said. “We talked about it several times, and she said that she wanted to do it in the summer to get done with everything by December. And you did it.”

As for their plans after high school, Calvert said he would be joining the Army, and Mathews said she would likely be pursuing a degree in business.

After the graduation ceremony, the board recognized Laura Heath and JoAnn Magby for getting their Alabama Association of School Business Official accreditation.

Following that, Hodge discussed some results from the Parent-Student-Teacher Culture/Climate Surveys for Accreditation that were taken earlier in the semester.

The surveys assessed the expectations of all parties involved in the school. Teachers were asked to describe the school system’s expectation of students, with students answering surveys that asked the same thing. The survey showed that, of the 1,734 responding middle and high school students, their perception of expectations largely lined up with their teachers.

“That shows you that the people who are in the schools every day, the kids the teachers, they know and they are on the same page,” Hodge said. “It was great for me to see all of that.”

Before adjourning, Hodge gave a brief update on the topic of school consolidation. She said that the board is working with financial companies to find funding sources. Additionally, they are looking at where a potential new school might be able to be built where it is centrally located.

Hodge said that the next town hall meetings for the public to address the issue should be sometime in late February.