The Jasper City Board of Education met Monday night in the Maddox Middle School auditorium to honor Walker High School’s outstanding performances among its extracurricular programs.
Martha LaCroix, director of accountability programs and support services with Jasper City, recognized each program that has achieved excellent standings within the first semester of the 2013-2014 school year.
LaCroix also presented each group and its director/coach(es) with a plaque.
The first mention of the night was the Walker High School band, led by band director Curtis Burttram and assistant band director Jonathan DeLoach.
“We are very proud of the achievements of the Walker High School Viking Band this year, and we have a plaque for them. But, if you have not heard all of their lists of awards this year in the Mid South Marching competition in Gadsden on Sept. 25, they got superior ratings for drum major, color guard, dance line, percussion in band and they won Best in Class 3A overall band,” LaCroix began.
Other accomplishments included the band’s perfomance in the Covered Bridge Marching Classic in Oneonta on Oct. 5, where the band received superior ratings for drum major, color guard, dance line, percussion in band and Best in Class 3A drum major, Best in Class 3A overall band, and second place overall band in the gold division, which are Classes 3A and 4A combined.
At the Curry Marching Classic on Oct. 19, the band received superior ratings for drum major, color guard, dance line, percussion in band, won Best in Class 4A dance line, Best in Class 4A percussion and Best in Class 4A overall band.
This year’s theme was “We’re an American Band” and involved 122 band members. Superintendent Robert Sparkman said the band has grown over a course of three years from 60 or 70 students to around 120.
Next on the agenda was Walker’s volleyball team, coached by Glenda Wright and Karen Atkins. The volleyball team was Area 12 champions super regional quarter finals, elite eight in the state of Alabama, Area 6 champions, final four in regional play, ranked top 10 in 5A and finished No. 8 out of 64 teams and had a season record of 44-25.
“We’ve never made it this far as the team did this year in the history of Walker High School,” Sparkman mentioned. “Our coaches and players have brought our program to a place never been before. They’ve done a great job, and we appreciate it.”
LaCroix presented the third plaque to the Walker High School competition cheer team. The girls placed sixth in UCA Southeast U.S. Regional competition, runners-up in 5A in the Alabama High School Athletic Association State competition and UCA national bid qualifier — which was a result of the state competition. The squad is led by Amber Wright who said this is the school’s sixth year having a competition squad. She also added that the squad has another regional competition coming up and the national competition which will be held in Orlando, Fla.
The cross country teams, both boys and girls, did exceptionally well also. Those teams are led by Tamara Matthews and Linda Runyan. Both teams qualified for the Alabama High School Athletic Association State Meet. The boys’ team finished ninth and the girls’ team eleventh in the state.
Matthews said both teams consisted of 52 students total. “We had no senior girls this year and they finished eleventh. So, it’s really exciting, and then only three senior boys.
“The teams should even be better next year. So, we’re really, really excited about it. In fact, we have a seventh grader who finished the season fifth in the state of Alabama in seventh-grade boys.”
Last on the list was the Walker High School football team, coached by Heath Brunner and Darius Gilbert. The team had an 8-2 regular season record, 5A region 6 champions, 2012-2013 back-to-back 5A region 6 champions and two consecutive undefeated seasons in regular region 6 play, “and that is outstanding,” LaCroix commented as she presented a few football team members and their coaches.
“I want to commend them on a great season. Under the leadership of Coach Brunner, Coach Gilbert and the rest of the staff and these seniors, this season didn’t start out the way we wanted, and that’s just the truth,” Sparkman said. “But, they stepped up and made it into a fabulous season. I’m so proud of them and appreciate the year that they had and one they’ll not soon forget. We have not been region champions until last year, and they were part of that, since 1991. So, we’ve been region champions for two years in a row now.”
Sparkman asked Walker’s Principal Gary Boling to make a few remarks, to which he said, “The kids and coaches have done an amazing job. I, clearly, had nothing to do with this, but they have been amazing. … I’m just beyond words proud of each and every one of them. Really, really amazing.”
In other business, the board:
•approved the minutes from the Oct. 22 board meeting.
•approved the financial reports and bank reconciliations for September and October.
•approved an overnight field trip request from the high school boys’ basketball team to play a tournament in Tennessee, Nov. 29-30, during the Thanksgiving break.
•heard from Kim Davis, director of career technical programs at Walker High School, who presented information about a grant proposal for the Industrial Maintenance program at Walker. The grant was written in a partnership with Walker County Schools and Bevill State Community College to create an Industrial Maintenance program at the incubator located in the Industrial Park.
The proposal was sent Friday, Nov. 22, to the state department, and Davis said she hopes to hear back from them around mid-December.
“We actually began meeting about a year ago with the industry partners, as well as Bevill, the county system and some of the community leaders and looked at the workforce development data. In our regional workforce development strategic plan, two of the top 10 jobs are industrial maintenance and precision machining,” Davis said. “… The purpose was to be able to identify what our workforce here needed, the skills they need our students to have, and this is what we came up with.”
Sparkman said the grant was written in partnership with the other two educational facilities, but Walker County Schools actually submitted it under superintendent Jason Atkins’ signature for $799,000.
“We’ll be part of that grant, but we’re actually taking the money we have in hand, $129,000, and we will allocate that toward purchase of equipment and industrial maintenance equipment. The grant will help, mostly, with the machinist equipment,” he said.
•heard the Continuous Improvement Plans from Betty Odom of North Highland School and assistant superintendent Jean Lollar, who stood in for T.R. Simmons’ Principal Suzanne Snow, on their school’s plan.