RHS Principal, PTSA President, Seniors Discuss Highlights and Successes of the School Year

— Jeanne E. Fredriksen • jeanne.fredriksen@rolesvillebuzz.com • June 2017

“The negative is always louder than the positive.”

That’s what Sheri Williams, three-term president of the Rolesville High School (RHS) PTSA, reminded Rolesville’s mayor and commissioners at the April 18 Town Board meeting. And then Williams and RHS Principal Dhedra Lassiter, along with seniors Sydni Williams and Oluchi Chukwunyere, addressed Mayor Frank Eagles and the commissioners for nearly an hour to highlight the achievements and good things happening at the school.

Distributing a six-page printout covering Academic Impact, Student Support Services, Extracurricular Activities, Athletic Achievements, Community Impact, Safety and Security, and Planning for 2017-2018, Lassiter wasted no time in getting to the task at hand by pointing out the simple truth about the effects of positive reinforcement on students.

“When students are told that they aren’t good, they don’t make good choices, they make poor choices, and sooner or later, they begin to act out in the same way,” she said. Then she cautioned, “I think it’s really important to flip the script and remember that when they do the right things, you make sure that you take the time to reiterate that and say the right things.”

Lassiter also believes that leadership development is important in building success and that having a development program in place is imperative.

“In order for us to really make the kinds of changes we need, we have got to leverage the student potential to help us move where we need to move,” she said. “That would be with student council, our Rolesville Riot, wherever we’ve got student leaders. We’ve got to help build the potential there.”

Rolesville HS Rams logo

Sydni Williams and Chukwunyere, seniors who began high school in the first freshman class at RHS, are examples of that positive reinforcement and leadership learned via the big building on East Young Street. Both young women spoke at the board meeting about how RHS impacted their lives.

Williams, the daughter of Sheri Williams, said life at Rolesville High has helped her “to become more of a leader and a different person.”

“I’ve been able to help with different community activities, to volunteer,” the younger Williams said, “and I’ve done all of that with the help of the school because I wouldn’t have looked for it or gone and done it.”

One exciting opportunity that came her way during her time at RHS was her Early Childhood Education class, which introduced her to pre-K and day care education. She interned at and now works at a day care center, and through the class she earned credentials to be a day care teacher.

Chukwunyere, who is from Nigeria, calls herself “a true original” because she started as a freshman when the RHS doors opened. Never having thought about joining a club, Chukwunyere said she has been a Rambassador for the three years the program has been available, plus she’s the RHS National Honor Society community service chair, co-founder of STAG (Sisters Together Achieving Greatness) and the vice president of Key Club.

“Coming in, I never thought I’d take the jump to join a club, let alone start and co-found one,” she said. “With STAG, we’ve been able to build connections and network outside the school so the girls can see what other women have done and can do. We’ve had resume workshops and even public speaking workshops.”

When Lassiter spoke about academics, there were numbers to be proud of. Lassiter announced the expansion from 12 to 17 Advanced Placement course offerings and that 851 out of approximately 2,100 students were on the semester honor roll. Forty percent of the senior class had a 3.75 GPA or higher. In June, 389 seniors were on track to graduate, and of those graduating, two seniors will be going to West Point. Dedicated support was provided to 587 ninth-graders in Freshman Academy.

Career and Technical Education continues to flourish, including more than one Rolesville student competing in Anaheim, Calif., at the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) Nationals and a new class – Nursing Fundamentals – that offers students the opportunity to earn their CNA certification. There also are students who are OSHA-certified through the Electrical Trades class, and next year a Pharm Tech class will be added.

The fine arts enjoyed achievements from the marching band winning a trophy in its first year of competition to one student scoring 99% at the NPA Solo Vocal Adjudication. Both the fall play and the spring musical were hits, the National Arts Honor Society and the Red Gallery hosted a variety of visual arts shows including an exhibition of senior projects, and a charity talent show was instituted as a senior project.

Athletic achievement included 192 N.C. High School Athletic Association scholar athletes for fall and winter – each maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or higher to qualify. State playoffs included volleyball plus girls and boys basketball. State championships came in gymnastics (small team). Conference championships were won by boys cross country and wrestling, plus there were additional individual awards for student athletes and coaches.

Being a part of the community is a large part of being a Ram, and Lassiter enumerated the long list of student service learning activities that includes blood drives, food drives, support for a women’s shelter and an invitation by Sonic for the National Arts Honor Society to work on a mural this summer. 

“Independent community groups have been inviting our students to come and participate in events,” Lassiter said. “I would like to ask that the community continue to invite our students to do that because they’re looking for those opportunities. … They want to feel relevant. They want to feel like they’re important.”

Another item that Lassiter discussed was the exploration with Wake Tech of the possibility of a mentor program. Volunteers are welcome; however, mentoring is more involved.

“If a person wants to be a mentor, … it’s just like fostering a child,” she said. “If you’re going to do it, you’ve really got to make that commitment because a lot of times kids have had things fall through, and they don’t need something to fall through for them again.”

Lassiter ended her portion of the presentation by speaking directly to the mayor and the commissioners. She thanked them for recent financial support and asked them to think of ways to include the students in community events. She asked them to “tell the positive story and recognize the good work that is being done” and to “celebrate the hard work that our staff is doing. They need a thumbs up.”

Sheri Williams spoke next, explaining that her children had come to Rolesville High School after having spent kindergarten through eighth grade in a charter school. Now, because of Rolesville High, she is “a firm believer in public schools and what they offer,” she said.

“With the experiences I’ve had being the president of PTSA, I’m very proud to say that that’s where my children are,” Williams said.

After discussing the variety of activities and events the PTSA sponsors for the students, faculty and staff, Williams shifted gears, saying she was also speaking as a mom and resident of Rolesville.

“The benefits from having my kids in public school have been enormous,” she said. “The teachers that have loved on these kids and the impact it has is phenomenal. When you come into the school, they’ll put you in honors classes, and you can opt out if it’s too hard. At Rolesville, they’re raising the bar for these kids, and I’m thankful for that as a mom.”

She ended with a challenge to the parents – herself included – and to Roleville’s town council, to “help push the positive and the things that are going out there.”

To see the 6-page document circulated by Mrs. Lassiter at the meeting, click here: State of RHS Spring 2017.