Tagged: Clarkrange High School

CHS senior builds mascot skills to follow college dreams

Eighteen-year-old senior Tanner Stockton plans to study political science in college. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)
Eighteen-year-old senior Tanner Stockton plans to study political science in college. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)

Tanner Stockton, an 18-year-old senior at Clarkrange High School in Clarkrange, Tenn. has been the school’s mascot – Brutus the Buffalo – for the past two years.

Stockton said, “It’s definitely been a cool experience. You get to do something a lot of people can’t say they do. I mean it’s really an experience kind of like a big secret. You go into a room and come out as a whole new person.”

He also said that the student body has been very supportive of his role at sporting events. He laughed, “Before games people say, ‘Are you going to hop in the suit yet?’ I’m like, ‘Soon. I’ve got another three hours.’ They want me in in early so I can just go crazy.”

“U.S. News and World Report” identified CHS as a bronze-level high school in its annual Best High Schools list. The administration and faculty work diligently to increase academic rigor and encourage students to apply for universities. However, career options are not always obvious in this rural town.

Brutus the Buffalo (Tanner Stockton) helps the CHS cheerleaders on the sideline of the game against Stone Memorial High School in Crossville, on Feb. 6.
Brutus the Buffalo (Tanner Stockton) helps the CHS cheerleaders on the sideline of the game against Stone Memorial High School in Crossville, on Feb. 7. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)

Stockton, however, has been researching his future opportunities for some time as a mascot and as a former member of the JROTC program. He said, “I’m planning to major in political science, and then, from there I plan to go to OCS, which is officer training school, and do military law for the Air Force.”

Stockton participated in JROTC for three years and served as a commanding officer with the rank of Cadet Major during his junior year.

During the summer before his senior year, he made a difficult decision to not continue with JROTC.

Stockton said, “I arrived at that decision because I had my normal classes, and I had dual-enrollment classes, so I was taking college classes. And then on top of that we had the busy ballgame schedule, and then everything with JROTC junior year. It was too much to handle. I was exhausted. This year I just decided to take off. … And there’s some mascot scholarships out there which you can try out and make it. You can pretty much go anywhere from there. That’s what I’m hoping to do in college.”

He has attended several mascot camps through the Universal Cheerleaders Association, including one at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville. Daniel Drake Fenlon, who is TTU’s Awesome Eagle mascot, was one of his instructors. Fenlon has also won the mascot national championship for the past two years.

Scouts from TTU and from Bryan College have attended CHS games to watch Stockton in action.

Stockton interacts with spectators during half time at the game against Stone Memorial High School in Crossville, on Feb. 6.
Stockton interacts with spectators during half time at the CHS game against Stone Memorial High School in Crossville, on Feb. 7. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek / Full Sail University)

In spite of Stockton’s ambitions to be a college mascot, he said that his job now is to support the cheerleaders and entertain the crowds. He takes pride in making people happy.

Stockton shared one of his favorite memories: “There was one ballgame we had at Jackson County. This little girl was crying all night because she saw me walking by. … And her mom was like, “Don’t be afraid,” so she brought the little girl [where I was standing], and she was hiding behind her mom’s legs. … I just sit down Indian style I just [do a hand gesture to come], and she comes over. And I high five her, and she high fives me back. Well, we start playing paddy cake right there while the ballgame is going on – completely missed the fourth period of the girls game. I’m just playing paddy cake with this girl, and she’s laughing and giggling and she’s starting to warm up. … I was really just focusing on getting that girl to calm her down – get her used to mascots.”

Stockton started a Facebook page for Brutus the Buffalo. He said, “It was originally just meant to inform people. Let them know the next game, the time, when to be there – also for pep club members.

“In two days, we went from having no friends to over 100, and then we had our [Fentress] county executive Mike Cross add us, so that was pretty cool to have him add us. Then I posted on there, ‘I hope to see you at our next game Mr. County Executive Mike Cross,’ and he liked it and commented, so that was pretty cool.”

Stockton’s mascot Facebook page now has 321 likes.

Marta McPeters teaches life skills and community involvement in Fentress County

Marta McPeters, the family and consumer science teacher at Clarkrange High School (CHS) in Clarkrange, Tenn., helped her students organize a Christmas party for 34 children from the local Head Start school on Dec. 19, in the high school cafeteria during fourth period.

McPeters said, “We had about 34 kids come up with parents and/or grandparents – younger brothers and sisters, too – and visit with Santa to pick up their gifts and have some snacks.”

In November, McPeters set up an Angel Tree in the school lobby to collect gifts for this event. While CHS has less than 300 students, faculty, staff, students and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) club donated gifts for 110 children of the two Fentress County Head Start programs and for children registered through the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA).

Throughout the school year, McPeters takes her students on mini field trips to give them opportunities to interact with Fentress County groups. She said that she usually takes students each semester to play with and read to Head Start children and to visit the county nursing home and senior citizen center.

Bethany Atkinson, a 16-year-old junior and member of FCCLA, said, [Mrs. McPeters] is wonderful. She helps out with everything. She does so much in the school and helps everyone out.”

This month, she made a trip with students from each of her 90-minute classes to the Signature HealthCARE of Fentress County nursing home and the Fentress County Senor Citizen’s Center in Jamestown, Tenn. The students delivered Christmas cards and snowflake ornaments while they spoke with nursing home residents and senior citizens.

McPeters’ FCCLA club also fund raises for several national organizations, such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma society and Operation Christmas Child (OCC). FCCLA works in conjuction with the Future Business Leaders of America club to fill shoe boxes for the OCC campaign. She said, “We also do activities with breast cancer awareness and autism awareness, along with several other organizations and groups.

“We have our annual Pink Out activities at a home basketball game. The students sell Pink Out T-shirts, and we donate some of the money that night from the Pink Out shirts and from the Pass the Pink sheet for … the Relay for Life. We are working with some of the other faculty and staff and some other students to have a Relay for Life team this year.”

Senior Stevie Hall, 17, said, “Mrs. McPeters makes everything an opportunity, and everything – she makes it so much fun. If you’ve never been in FCCLA, it’s awesome to try and experience new things.”

To see the video with extended interviews, click here.

Tennessee teachers grade Common Core roll out

Educators in the Upper Cumberland region weigh pros and cons of controversial State Standards

Language arts and math teachers in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland region continue to implement Common Core standards as legislators contemplate the program’s future in this state.

As national controversy about Common Core State Standards continues, Tennessee legislators decided by a vote of 82-11 in March to postpone the use of PARCC testing. They also denied adoption of any more standards for two years except for math and language arts standards that have been in place since 2012.

Carolyn Woodward
Carolyn Woodward watches English IV students presenting their ‘Canterbury Tales’ skits. (Photo by Diahan Krahulek)

Carolyn Woodward, an English I and IV teacher at Clarkrange High School (“CHS”) in Fentress County, said, “I am deeply disappointed [in the delay]. I saw last year as a stressful year because we were supposed to be teaching [Common Core] but were responsible for results of the old EOC [End of Course] test. We talked all year about how next year would be easier because our focus would not have to be on two very different goals.”

Debbie Pritchett, who teaches math subjects from Algebra II to pre-calculus at CHS, said, “It has not been explained very well. I feel that there are great ideas in the Common Core, but it should be tweaked or more carefully planned before it is implemented.”

Debbie Pritchett assists students in calculus class.
Debbie Pritchett assists students in her dual-enrollment calculus class. (Photo by Tiffany Benson)

Pritchett also said, “I feel that there is too much focus on trying to weed out teachers than teaching children.  I think the focus has shifted to trying to get rid of those deadbeat teachers and, in the process, great teachers are leaving.”

Reporter Joseph P. Williams outlined varied reasons for opposition to Common Core.

“I hear criticism on every level,” Woodward said. “Parents, community leaders, state politicians, talk show hosts, etc. Some of them (parents) just don’t understand why school can’t be like it was when they were there. They don’t like change.

“Others feel it is a plot by educational companies to make large profits. Politicians feel they have had no voice in these decisions, and that the federal government is interfering in state issues. Talk show hosts and others believe that this is the first step in schools being forced to teach the agenda of one or the other political party,” she added.

In William’s companion article on Common Core, Harvard professor Raul Reville, of the Graduate School of Education, said that this program is developed around “’the kinds of skills and knowledge necessary for young people to have in order to participate meaningfully in the 21stcentury economy’.”

Woodward said that, over the past two years of using Common Core methods, she could see improvement in the way students approach their learning and an increase in “rigor” — one of the Common Core buzzwords — in her school. She believes that disapproval of some educators and parents comes from the education department not fully explaining the program to the public and from problems that occurred during the roll out.

She said, “Asking high school students to do a 180 in expectations, I believe, is unrealistic. These new standards should have been introduced in lower elementary grades and then implemented in higher grades as these students reached those levels.”

Pritchett said that Common Core decreased the number of standards high school teachers must cover, which allows students to learn concepts more in depth rather than seeing them briefly over several years. At the same time, the program creates more levels for each required standard and eliminates some that are needed for more complex math courses, thus requiring more work for teachers.

According to Education Week, legislators in 19 states have presented bills to delay this education policy. Twenty-three elected officials submitted bills to repeal the program completely. Governors of Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Oklahoma, Maine and Mississippi have signed orders declaring their states’ right to control educational standards and rejecting federal implementation.