A partnership through Blue Ridge Electric and the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce has yielded the “Choices” program to promote dropout prevention and insightful decision making among area students.
Recently, local volunteers in the community provided in-classroom presentations and information sharing to educate students at Ashe County Middle School of the importance of staying in school and learning how the decisions they make in eighth grade can impact the rest of their lives. The in-class tutorial was made possible through a grant from UPS to the chamber. Volunteers who agreed to participate in the two-day seminar were provided presentation materials and a two-hour training session at the Ashe District office of Blue Ridge Electric on how to conduct the in-classroom activities, a Blue Ridge Electric official said.
Chamber Executive Director Cabot Hamilton explained how various members of the chamber of commerce participated in both the training sessions and the classroom tutorial which took place on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13. Hamilton also explained the focus of the classroom sessions.
“The main purpose of the two-day setup was to go in and help 8th graders realize the choices they make now can impact and effect where and how they go beyond high school,” Hamilton said. “It can also impact their income once they get out in the world.”
Blue Ridge Electric also participates in the Bright Ideas grant which provides area teachers with grants for creative thinking that they would not be able to receive elsewhere due to budget restraints. Overall, the program is sponsored by the North Carolina Touchstone Energy cooperatives, such as Blue Ridge Electric. According to North Carolina’s Bright Ideas Website, www.ncbrightideas.com, the grants afford funding for a vast array of hands-on projects to provide supplemental instruction for k-12 students.
Each September, BREMCO seeks applicants from Ashe County schools whom are dedicated to presenting innovative and creative instructional methods to local students. This year alone, Blue Ridge awarded 19 grants in the amount of $18,000 to area teachers. The energy cooperative also receives grant applicants from other systems across the High Country including Watauga, Caldwell, Alleghany, Avery, and Wilkes counties.
On Nov. 14, Blue Ridge Electric held a special luncheon to honor local educators for qualifying for the innovative grants. Ashe County High School’s winner, Sarah Pyles was awarded for her “Lineage and Literacy” project in the amount of $860. In essence, 30 high school students will pick one book from a list to create a scrapbook to provide perspective from different viewpoints of characters in the book. Diane Eldreth from Blue Ridge Elementary School received over $1,400 to benefit approximately 800 students through a math skill enhancement project called “Math Attack.”
Kelly Holleman, Steve Scott, and Ron Watson of ACMS received over $1,200 for “History in Our Hands” project to provide instruction to study monuments. Margaret Roland, Kellie Johnson, and Martha Edmonds from ACMS will receive $1,032 for
researching and studying the mechanics of airplanes and how the Wright brothers were successful in their historic flights.