Editor’s note: This article contains news and photos from previous editions of the Ashe Post and Times (formerly the Ashe Mountain Times).
December 6, 2012
A little rivalry goes a long way – at least that’s what Ash County Prep School’s Thelma Castle hopes.
Kastl, an instructor of technology at ACMS, heads up the “Project Lead the Way” for the system. The PLTW program is a component of the county’s strategic plan to develop a pipeline of workers to work in the area’s industry, and partners with GE Aviation, Leviton, Gates Corporation, American Emergency Vehicle, United Chemi-Con, and Ashe Memorial Hospital.
Now, Kastl is hoping a little competition can galvanize its students’ efforts by teaming up with Alleghany School technology teacher Joey Whisnant and Keith Casey, computer engineering technology teacher at Wilkes Community College to create a STEM robotics competition — the first of its kind in the region. .
Dubbed “King of the Mountain 2013,” the competition will feature student-made robots programmed into a game called “Sack Attack.”
Played on a 12″ x 12″ foam mat surrounded by a metal plate and plastic-like surround, students score points by using their device to pick up beanbags and carry them to scoring locations.
It’s an inherently offensive game, according to the company that created it, VEX Robotics, and notes that “accidental rollover, tangles, and damage may occur as part of normal gameplay.”
As a test of the students’ computer programming skills, the competition also includes a 15-second “self-period,” in which the robots act and react only to sensor inputs and commands pre-programmed by the team into the onboard control system.
We hope the event will prepare students to compete in the regional VEX Robotics competition held at Appalachian State University on February 22 and, later, the state VEX competition in Greensboro March 17-19.
The program, according to Kastl, is designed to use science and technology to motivate and challenge students.
Her group has already built three machines and programmed one. None of the machines come from VEX programmed to work in a certain way. Students have to program specific actions themselves.
If the device is not working properly, the students are tasked with finding out why and what needs to be fixed.
That kind of functionality isn’t cheap, according to Kastl, who said basic machines cost about $600 without assembly and specialized programming components.
“The fun is putting it together on its own,” Castel said.
Kastl said her students use RobotC to program machines.
“We found out when we went to Wilkes that there was another version called EasyC, so we’re using that now,” she said.
And all of these struggles are designed to help students discover the thought process they’ll need to master STEM skills later in life.
“It helps them get used to the idea that if something happens, what do we need to do to understand it and fix it?” Castell said. “If something isn’t working right, why not? And once that’s done, they can make fixes and code things up better next time.”
Castle said she started the competition with eight students, and said she has added two more students recently. On December 11th, she will take these eight students to another practice session at Wilkes Community College.
“In the afternoon our students will meet with students from Al-Afghani and we will have a friendly competition,” Castel said. “I’m sure as we get into January things are going to get more competitive, but for now it’s all fun.”
WCC students and professors will work with middle school students to make sure their programs are doing well enough to compete and then they will let the students work from there.
“I can’t tell you how excited my kids are,” she said. “Some students ask to take the instruments home and add to them at night. There is a lot of enthusiasm floating around the room.”
ACMS and Alleghany Middle School students will design a competition logo and submit the design to WCC, where it will be programmed, 3D modeled, and later shaped.
That same logo would form the basis of a trophy that Castle hopes will become as coveted as the trophy at the center of the Western Carolina University/Appalachian State University football rivalry – The Old Mountain Jug.
December 4, 2014
Ashe County High School English teacher Keana Triplett was named the 2014-15 Northwest 7th District Teacher of the Year on Monday, November 24.
“It is truly a privilege that Keana brings to Ashe County High School and the Ashe County School System,” said Ashe County Superintendent Todd Holden in a press release.
The news came after school during a mandatory “mock” meeting in the auditorium. ACHS teachers met for what they thought was a staff meeting about emergency preparedness.
The mock meeting was called by ACHS Director Jason Crider. The true purpose of the meeting was to honor Triplett and it soon became apparent. Krider handed the microphone to guest speaker James Ford, current NC Teacher of the Year, who surprised Triplett by announcing that she was the recipient of the 2014 North Carolina State District Seventh District Teacher of the Year Award.
After the announcement, Triplett raised her hands in shock, and the ACHS staff stood up and cheered.
“This is an award that we look forward to every year,” NCDPI District 7 Counselor Monica Shepherd said in a press release. “It gives me great pleasure for our districts and charter schools to submit their regional award nominations and to recognize all of the amazing teachers we have in our district. This year, we are certainly proud to have Ms. Triplett representing our great district at the state level.”
The curtain opened on the ACHS Auditorium stage, revealing the Triplett family and others on stage to congratulate her achievement.
Ash County Board of Education members Charles King, Terry Williams and Polly Jones also attended.
Triplett served as a student tutor for Jones, and similarly, Jones served as a mentor when she was teaching at ACHS. Jones spoke on behalf of Triplett on Monday.
“She’s almost like my daughter,” Jones said.
Members of the Bank of England presented Triplett with a gift, and Triplett and her guests were served refreshments. Some parents and students attended and shared notes as well.
Triplett will go on to compete for the 2015 North Carolina Teacher of the Year award in the spring. Nine educators representing their districts and charter schools have been selected as Regional State Educators of the Year and will compete for the 2015-2016 North Carolina Teacher of the Year title.
The winner will succeed Ford, the 2014 NC Teacher of the Year from Garinger High School in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
December 1, 2016
It’s Christmas time. People gathered in warm coats and huddled together at Backstreet Park in West Jefferson with cups of hot coconut to celebrate the lighting of the West Jefferson Christmas Tree on the evening of November 25.
“Last year was the first time we attended Illumination and it was amazing,” said Jessica DeHart, who was with her daughter, Nora. “My dad won the goatee competition last year. We just love being with the family and getting into the Christmas spirit.”
After a busy day of shopping on Black Friday, the Christmas tree lighting gave friends and family time to catch up with loved ones, while they get together to kick off the holiday season.
“It’s a great time for the community to come together and celebrate,” said Lyn Rhys-Jones. “It’s just a great family gathering.”
Hot cocoa and candy canes were provided by the West Jefferson Community Partnership.
The music and hymns were also sung by the Excellent Generation Choir, a dramatic choir made up of home-schooled students from Ashe and Wilkes counties.
“I love the small-town and community feel,” said Pam Miller, director of Premium Generation. “We also love this time of year because we travel and promote Christmas shows like Operation Christmas Child.”
Shortly after lighting the tree at 5:30 p.m., Santa arrived with the West Jefferson Fire Department with the elves, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, and the kids had the chance to visit him.
Fire vans were offered to families by the West Jefferson Fire Department.
While most festival-goers were locals in Ashe County, many families and couples from outside the state were also enjoying the Christmas festivities.
“I was born in Jefferson and we are looking forward to building a summer home in the area,” said Randy and Mary Ellen Osborne. “We’ve never seen the city packed like this. We were just here for Thanksgiving and now we’re having a great time at Christmas. We went on the horse and buggy ride. It was a great night.”
“My uncle has a cabin here in West Jefferson,” said Eric Wilkanson. “This is my second time staying for the tree lighting. I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and this night actually reminds me of city life but in a country setting. The kids really enjoy it and it’s fun to be around people. West Jefferson is a close-knit family community with people who love birthday “.
People were also relieved that the wood smoke from the Fleetwood fires had dissipated in time for the festivities, resulting in a beautiful, clear night of lighting.
“It’s great to see so many people outside today,” said Kathleen George, Visitor Center Coordinator at the Chamber of Commerce. “Thank you the weather was great for what it is. We wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”
West Jefferson Town manager Brantley Price was helping out with refreshments that evening and was impressed with the turnout this year.
“We had a great crowd tonight,” Price said. “I think it’s the biggest one we’ve ever had. I love seeing everyone come out to celebrate the holiday. With all the Christmas tree farms in the area, Ash County has always been a festive holiday town and this event is the high point of that. I’m grateful for all the community support this year.”
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