Rocky River falls flat in loss to Myers Park on senior night

The Rocky River Ravens lost 36-13 to the Myers Park Mustangs last Friday night in the final regular season game for both. The game was important for both teams. Myers Park needed a win to qualify for the playoffs, while a win for Rocky River could help improve their playoff seeding. Unfortunately for the Ravens, this was not their night. Continue reading

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Independence outlasts Rocky River in Mint Hill football showdown

The Independence Patriots and the Rocky River Ravens faced off on Friday for an important 4A Southwestern Conference game. The Patriots came into the game with an overall record of 7-1 and 4-0 in conference. The home-standing Ravens were 6-2 and 3-1. Both teams appear headed for the playoffs, and this game would play a part in future playoff match ups.

This game was a back and forth affair between two evenly matched teams.

Independence kicked off and the game was on. After a first down, Ravens senior quarterback Andre Rice attempted his first pass. The pass was promptly picked off by the Patriots’ sophomore defensive back Cordell McMurray who returned it to the Rocky River 33 yard line.

The Patriots wasted no time taking advantage of the sudden change of possession. On the first play senior quarterback Jason Connella connected with wide receiver Jamar Jenkins, only a sophomore, on a deep pass down the right sideline for a gain of 29 yards.

From four yards out, the Patriots were able to pound the ball into the end zone. Connella scored the touchdown on a quarterback sneak. The extra point was blocked but the Patriots led early 6-0. The teams exchanged punts until the Ravens offense exploded. After a first down, senior running back James House burst through a big hole on the left side and juked his way through the Patriots’ secondary for a 41 yard touchdown run. The extra point was missed and the game was tied 6-6.

The excitement in the first quarter was far from over. After the Ravens’ kickoff, Connella hit Patriots’ senior wide receiver Dequan Barnes on a 65-yard bomb. Barnes had gotten wide open behind the Ravens’ secondary and Connella hit him in stride for the score.

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Rocky River blasts South Meck 42-0 in homecoming win

The Rocky River Ravens celebrated Spirit Week and Homecoming with a solid 42-0 win over South Meck Sabre squad last Friday night. This was the third conference game for both teams.

The game was controlled by both defenses in the first quarter. The Sabres had a bad handoff exchange and Safety Lamar Hood tackled the runner in the end zone which resulted in a safety for the Ravens. The Ravens had given up safeties in the previous two games, so being on the receiving end was a welcome change. Neither team could get any traction on offense, and the quarter ended with Rocky River leading, but by the slimmest of margins, 2-0.

“South really came out ready to play tonight. They punched us in the mouth and were the more physical team in the first quarter,” said Head Coach Jason Fowler.

The teams continued to trade punts when the Ravens got a break. A punt was mishandled by South Meck and recovered by Rocky River at the Sabres’ three yard line.

Before the next play could be run, lightening was seen in the area and the officials sent the teams to the locker rooms for a mandatory postponement of 30 minutes. Coach Fowler thinks the stoppage of play may have helped his team.

“We were able to make some adjustments when that happened, and it had a positive effect,” says Fowler.

Once play resumed quarterback Andre Rice ran in from the three yard line and just like that, with three and a half minutes left in the half, the Ravens led 9-0. The point after touchdown was converted by kicker Aaron Roman who was injured two games ago against Providence.

“It’s good to have Aaron back,” coach Jason Fowler said. It helps tremendously to have a consistent kicker.”

The second quarter ended with Rocky River leading 9-0. The defense was solid in the half, al- lowing only four first downs. They gave up one long run of 66 yards, but otherwise kept the Sabres in check.

Newly crowned Homecoming Queen Vanessa Perez saw the Ravens explode in the second half. The Ravens’ first drive of the half ended in a touchdown. Offensive Coordinator Mark Harmon called a wide receiver pass and it worked to perfection. Rice pitched to wide receiver Aaron Cole who started to run a sweep to the right side, stopped and threw to a wide open Brandon Harris behind the defense for a 26-yard score. This is the second consecutive week that exact play resulted in a touchdown, having worked against Butler last week. The score was now 15-0. Rocky River forced another South Meck punt and thus began the Naquan Evans show. He took the punt on a hop at the 28-yard line and slalomed his way through the Sabres’ punt team for a 72-yard score. With the extra point the score was suddenly 22-0. After another South Meck punt the Ravens began to impose their will offensively. The drive methodically moved the ball down the field, mixing the run and the pass. This was easily their best drive of the night, taking six minutes off the clock and spanning the third and fourth quarters. The drive started at their own 24-yard line and ended in another Rice run for a touchdown.

“We were trying to run a little more in the second half,” coach Fowler explained. We were using our short passing game in the first half basically as our running game. In the second half, their defense loosened up some and we were able to run more.” The score was now 29-0 and the game appeared out of reach for South Meck, but Rocky River was not done yet.

South Meck was forced to punt yet again. They made the mistake of kicking it to senior Naquan Evans, again, who promptly took it to the house. This time the touchdown was only 65 yards. Special teams were important according to Coach Fowler, “The Special Teams were big tonight. We definitely won the Special Teams battle tonight and that really helped out.”

With the score now 35- 0, many of the Ravens’ reserves got a chance to show what they could do. Sophomore quarterback Christian Allen-Brown took control of the offense on the Ravens’ last scoring drive. Freshman running back Rashaad Brannon showed he could have an impact on the team in coming years as he capped off the scoring with a 12- yard run. The point after touchdown ended the scoring for the night at 42-0.

 

Team Notes

The Ravens’ offense looked spotty for most of the first half.

“We didn’t match their intensity in the first half,” Offensive Coordinator Harmon said. “I’m proud of our guys; they played their game in the second half.”

Senior Naquan Evans put on a show. Two punt returns for touchdowns, and he also added an interception, all in the second half. “I’ve been preparing for a game like this, he said. I scored a couple of touchdowns last year, but this was the best game of my career so far. The defense was keeping us in the game early while the offense struggled. We just needed a spark and I’m glad I was able to help the team win.”

The Ravens’ defense had their third shutout of the season. Average opponents scoring in the Ravens’ five wins: just over seven points per game.

Penalties, a problem for Rocky River all season, were not a factor in this game.

The Ravens had no turnovers while forcing two from S. Mecklenburg.

Continuing a theme for this season, this was Rocky River’s first victory over S. Mecklenburg in football, having lost the previous two years.

 

Coming up

Rocky River (5-2, 2-1) at East Meck (0-7, 0-3) Friday, 7 pm

Rocky River played E. Mecklenburg last year, winning 35-0.

Many may know Head Coach Fowler came to Rocky River from E. Mecklenburg, where he was the Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator.

“I spent six years at E. Mecklenburg before coming to Rocky River. They gave me my first big break in coaching. I still have a lot of good friends over there, and I know some of their players. It’s gonna be good to go there and see some familiar faces, but we’re going there to win a ball game.”

About the Eagles team, “They’re a physical team and we’ll get their best game,” Coach Fowler said. “We need to continue to win to get where we want to go.”

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Raven seniors stand tall

Think about it. You are beginning a new high school. What do you do? Sports are important to a school, but where do the athletes come from? Will they be any good? Will they want to play for your school? These are questions with no answers, not at first.

So this is the grand experiment in 2010, and the Rocky River Ravens football team was the biggest petri dish at Rocky River High School.

 

A little history

At the start of the 2010 school year, some things were obvious for the football team. For example, all of the players trying out for the team were from another high school. The current seniors were sophomores then. Christian Irias and B-y Sandiemanie came from Butler High School, and Brandon Harris and Sidney Lawson were from Independence High School. Initially, was anybody on the team happy to change schools? “No,” was the unanimous response.

“It wasn’t easy at first,” Lawson said, “I played as a freshman at Independence then had to come here and start all over.”

 

The first year

Of course there were going to be growing pains. Beginning anything from scratch is difficult. Imagine starting a football team. The logistics of obtaining equipment, fields, and schedules was daunting at times.

“The field wasn’t ready when we started practice in June. We practiced at an elementary school,” says Sandiemanie.

“We couldn’t lift weights that first year either,” says Harris. “The weight room wasn’t ready until the second year, so we tried to work out when we could, either individually or in groups. I think that probably put us at a competitive disadvantage.”

Most of the players came from successful programs. They were used to winning. Now they were looking at enemy faces in the huddle. Trust was an issue the first year.

“These were guys we knew, but we knew them from the other teams they played on,” Irias said. “It was hard, mentally, to feel comfortable, because we didn’t really know each other yet. At least not well enough to gel as a team. Looking back I don’t think it was anybody’s fault, it just took time. Predictably perhaps, that first year ended with a team record of 0-11.”

 

Year two

By the beginning of the 2011 season, the team began to feel more comfortable with each other.

“The first year you would see T-shirts and stuff with the logos from the other schools, the second year not as much,” says Sandiemanie.

This was the year the team was able to lift weights together in their own weight room. Head Coach Jason Fowler feels this has been important to team building.

In 2010, the players came from different schools, and were accustomed to different offensive and defensive plays and schemes. But by 2011, the team had shaken off the newness and began to embrace the Ravens’ way of playing football as taught by Coach Fowler and his staff.

“At our other schools, they were more established and it was hard to get no- ticed,” says Harris. “But being here we had a chance to show what we could do. That was one advantage.” In year two, the record improved to 2- 9.

 

Year three

Those young pups who were sophomores in 2010 are now seniors. They’ve been through a lot, as football players and as young men. They’ve been through things their friends at their former schools have not had to endure.

“It was humbling to see those other schools have success while we struggled,” says Lawson. “But we tried to see the bigger picture.”

Now the younger players on the team look up to the seniors.

“We want to show them how it goes,” Irias added. “We want to leave a legacy as a successful team. Our goal has always been to get to the playoffs and then see what happens. That goal is within our reach this year if we keep improving and playing like we’re capable of playing.”

What about the school as a whole?

“The school is behind us now,” says Lawson. “We don’t see other school’s T-shirts anymore, just ours.”

More than halfway through the season, the team has already more than doubled its previous win total. The overall record this year is 5-2. The team has been competitive, even in its two losses. All of its remaining games are winnable. That is a far cry from where the team was about 30 months ago.

The last sentence on this season has yet to be written, but this much can be said—this is not a collection of players from other teams. This team is now the Rocky River Ravens.

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Local Levine Scholars explored Alaskan wilderness

Take yourself out of the green hills of the North Carolina piedmont and into the isolated, daunting boulder fields of wild Alaska.  Enormous rocks are between you and your destination: the campsite up and over the hill.  A freezing rain numbs your body and makes every climbing step that much more dangerous.  Would you be able to step up to the challenge?

Seventeen incoming freshmen at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte were faced with this scene this summer.  They weren’t expert hikers or campers – just scholars with a great opportunity.  The relatively new Levine Scholars Program at UNCC provides extraordinary graduating high school students a full scholarship that includes a summer course with the National Outdoor Leadership School.  This year’s students traveled to Alaska to hike and camp for 23 days in the remote wilderness.

Among those traveling were Dr. Mike Richardson, physician at Carolinas Medial Center in Mint Hill, director of the Leon Levine Foundation, and contributor to the Mint Hill Times, and two local students, Jackie Chan and Isabel Fee.

Leon Levine Foundation

Leon Levine is a North Carolina native and the founder of Family Dollar.  He has recently retired and dedicated his time to the Leon Levine Foundation, created in 1980.  The foundation focuses on four main areas: healthcare, education, Jewish values, and human services.

The Levine name is found throughout the Charlotte area: Levine Cancer Institute,

Levine Children’s Hospital, Levine Center for Wellness and Recreation at Queens University, Central Piedmont Community College Levine Campus, Levine Jewish Community Center, Levine Center for the Arts, Levine Museum of the New South.

UNCC Levine Scholars Program

Five years ago Richardson and Levine were talking about building a scholarship program for a Charlotte school.  Richardson was a Morehead Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill, and through that program he had the opportunity to hike through Wyoming in a NOLS course.  Levine wanted to offer a prestigious scholarship similar to Richardson’s experience.  They approached UNC Charlotte with their ideas, and the first class of Levine Scholars began their academic careers in the fall of 2010.

The Levine Scholarship is a full scholarship covering tuition, fees, and housing.  It also includes extra programs.  Entering freshmen attend the NOLS course.  The first class hiked in Wyoming, and the next two classes have traveled through Alaska.  The second summer focuses on non-profit work in Charlotte.  Students not only dedicate time and energy to a non-profit, they also learn how a non-profit organization functions.  They meet the board of directors, learn the financial side, and look for needs.  The third summer requires an internship, and the fourth year is a study abroad experience.  Students are also given a grant of up to $8,000 for a non-profit project that they design.

The Levine Scholars Program aims to attract top students with a passion for making a difference to the Charlotte area.  This scholarship draws students to UNC Charlotte when they might have chosen schools like Duke University or Chapel Hill.  Chan and Fee both stated the scholarship was a determining factor in their attendance at UNCC.

Alaskan Adventure

Chan and Fee recently began their first semester of college classes.  Within their first week they’ve faced the challenges of advanced learning and dedication to schoolwork.  Chan is a pre-biology major and a recent graduate from Bulter High School.  She has an interest in cancer research, and has spoke with faculty about exploring that interest within her department.  Fee graduated from Rocky River High School as salutatorian and is an architecture student.  She understands she will basically be living in the studio for four years.

They know they will persevere through the next four years.  If they learned anything during their Alaskan adventure, it was perseverance.  They hiked for 23 days in isolated wilderness with a group of people they had never met before.  They didn’t shower.  They carried 35-45 pounds on their backs. They set up and disassembled camp every day.

Richardson said it was the coldest and wettest July in Alaska in the last 100 years.  Chan saw her shadow only a couple times, and no one saw true night.  They were so far north that the darkest times were from 1:30-4 am, and even then it was just twilight.  After hiking six miles a day carrying everything to keep them alive, they were still able to sleep without the darkness.

Chan said the most terrifying moment was crossing the boulder field.  Mother Nature creates dangerous terrain.  Not only did the group need to climb the boulders up and across a hill, but the freezing rain created an extra challenge.

“It was really frightening because it’s one of those things where if you stepped on a wrong rock you could roll down the side of a mountain,” she said.  “I thought, ‘I have to keep going.’  I’ve always had that safety net.  Being out there and having no safety net was so scary, but it was also the most rewarding experience.”

Fee enjoyed being able to appreciate the natural setting.  She said each mountain was different and beautiful.  They offered a variety of flowers, animals, and waterways.  They spotted porcupines, moose, hundreds of caribou, and a bald eagle.  The water was crystal clear and delicious.

The students were equipped with various jackets, tents, cooking gear, compasses, and a topographical map.  In all, they hiked 75 miles.  No one starved, froze, or injured themselves.

“My goal was to get through it,” laughed Chan.

The focus of the NOLS trip was leadership.  Every day a student led the group.  Leadership involved mapping routes and setting up camp.  They learned about their leadership styles; relationship builders, those who don’t yield to others.  Richardson said one of the biggest challenges the students may not have recognized was learning to follow when they may have been leaders throughout their lives.  In a group of peers with similar abilities, it’s difficult to let go of control.

Apart from learning leadership skills, the students also learned about themselves.

“It’s one of those things you can say you’ve only done once in your life,” said Chan.  “It taught me a lot about how I deal with frustration.  There were days when I had to push through it.  If I could do that I can do anything.”

“I learned how to deal with emotional stress.  It will help me a lot in college,” said Fee.

The group left Alaska and entered Witherspoon Hall on the UNCC campus.  They will continue to work together and live together, providing support for each other and future Levine Scholars.

“We really had to come together and form a camaraderie,” said Fee.

Richardson, the Leon Levine Foundation, and UNC Charlotte are excited to see the future success of these and future adventurer-scholars.

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Back to school

Seven schools in the Mint Hill area are nearly ready to open their doors for the first day of school in the 2012-2013 academic year.  Some schools are seeing an increase in teachers, students, or construction, and each school will implement the newly adopted Common Core State Standards, as well as serve more nutritional lunches.  Many principals in the area are beginning the year at their new schools for the first time,  waves of students are transitioning into their first year in middle and high school, and young kindergarteners are entering the educational system for the first time.

 

Bain Elementary School
11524 Bain School Road
Charlotte, NC 28227
980-343-6915 | fax 980-343-6150
Principal: John M. LeGrand
Bell Schedule: 8:15 am – 3:15 pm
Grades: K-5
Open House: August 23, Kindergarten 3-4 pm, All 4-6 pm

Bain principal John LeGrand with a portrait of Bain Academy founder John Bain.

Bain is adding one teacher to its staff this year. It is also adding a new afterschool program, Kidnetic, which enhances the curriculum by teaching through movement. It is intended to help students with different learning styles.
One of the most noticeable changes at Bain Elementary School is the construction. A new building is being constructed to open August 2013. Its construction affects the current building’s parking situation, as the parking lot is being renovated for the future. Only half of the parking lot is available this school year, which will make arrival and dismissal a congested time each day. Parents are encouraged to utilize buses and carpool. Buses will arrive and leave on time, as they are given priority. To conserve parking lot space, the number of buses has decreased from 17 to 13.
The A building, also called the Old Bain Building, will not be in use as it was condemned after the 2010-2011 school year. The Town of Mint Hill is discussing plans to preserve the building. The C building will be demolished next June, and the A building is set to go at the same time.
The number of registered kindergarteners is lower than usual, perhaps due to the construction. Principal John LeGrand wants to invite parents to the school to register their children.
“Even though we have all of these changes outside of our building and surrounding our campus, our focus will continue to be inside the building, maintaining the same calm, nurturing academic environment,” said LeGrand.

Clear Creek Elementary School
School Information:
13501 Albemarle Road
Charlotte, NC 28227
980-343-6922 | fax 980-343-6156
Principal: Penni Beth Crisp
Bell Schedule: 7:45 am – 2:45 pm
Grades: K-5
Open House: August 23, 3-5 pm

Clear Creek Elementary School estimates enrollment numbers will not change much for this year, but it will see two additional classrooms, a new eight-room modular building and two trailers to replace an old modular. There will be new staff, as well.
“We are excited about a number of new staff members and the new Common Core State Standards and Essential Standards, which will be implemented across all grade levels,” said principal Penni Beth Crisp.

Mint Hill Middle School
11501 Idlewild Road
Matthews, NC 28105
980-343-5439 | fax 980-343-5442
Principal: Steve Drye
Bell Schedule: 8:15 am – 3:15 pm
Grades: 6-8
Open House: August 24, Grade 6 11 am – 1 pm, Grades 7 and 8 2-4 pm

Mint Hill Middle School’s bell schedule has changed for this school year. Last year’s schedule was 9:15 am – 4:15 pm, and this year students will be at school from 8:15 am – 3:15 pm. The changing schedules is tied to transportation cuts. Shifting schedules allows for budget cuts and continued operation of CMS transportation.
The school will also be seeing a new computer lab this year, with enough new computers to allow for instruction of a whole class.
Principal Steve Drye has initiated a way for teachers to build relationships with their students. They will use team building activities and book studies in small groups to facilitate character growth and a support system for students.
“This year one of the things we’re going to be looking at is a renewed emphasis on advisory time, working on building relationships with kids. Doing some things to get to know kids better. That’s something that in middle school is critical. The kids need to feel like they belong. It’s a time when they’re really trying to discover who they are and who they want to become and who they want to choose as their role models. We as middle school educators have a real opportunity to have an impact on kids,” said Drye.
Drye encourages students and parents to get involved this school year, and welcomes communication.

Rocky River High School
10505 Clear Creek Commerce Drive
Mint Hill, NC 28227
980-344-0409 | fax980-343-2139
Principal: Brandy Nelson
Bell Schedule: 7:15 am – 2:15 pm
Grades: 9-12
Open House: August 22, 5:30 – 7 pm

Rocky River High School’s new principal, Brandy Nelson, will be opening the school this year for the first time. She is “excited and encouraged” by her school.
Rocky River will see two new staff positions this year, as well as a new athletic director, Jonathan Lamb, and some coaching positions.
Also new this year is the Student Leadership Conference scheduled for November. This conference is a partnership with New Beginnings Church and athletic boosters to focus on character and leadership. The conference has sessions for students and parents to attend.
Technology and school spirit are important at Rocky River this year. The senior class is also challenged with beating the standards set by the first graduating class last year.

Indy principal Amy Dellinger hopes for a great school year for her 2,200 students.

Independence High School
1967 Patriot Drive
Charlotte, NC 28227
980-343-6900 | fax 980-343-6907
Principal: Amy Dellinger
Bell Schedule: 7:15 am – 2:15 pm
Grades: 9-12
Open House: August 22, 4-6 pm

Independence High School will see more teacher positions and more students this year. The 2,200 students expected to enroll is larger than last year’s number.
New this year is the Freshman Academy. Studies show ninth grade as a critical drop-out year for high school students. The Freshman Academy is intended to be a transitional program, focusing on attendance, creating a culture of success, and using interdisciplinary teams to ensure open communication.
Independence expects a strong athletic program this year, as well as a continuance of strong teaching and learning.

Queen’s Grant Community School
6400 Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Mint Hill, NC 28227
704-573-6611 | fax 704-573-0995
Principal: Christy Morrin
Bell Schedule: 8:15 am -3:15 pm
Grades: K-8
Open House: Back to School Night and Bingo August 20, 6-7 pm

Queen’s Grant Community School has seven new teachers this year, as well as additional support staff for at-risk students. Student numbers do not change much from year to year, as there is a cap on enrollment at charter schools. There is a waiting list of 1,300 students this year.
This summer staff were in professional development workshops for the new Common Core standards, and principal Christy Morrin said, “It’s exciting because it increases the level of rigor for kids.”
Students and parents can look forward to continued parent involvement. The August 20 open house is a fun meet and greet, with a Bingo event put on by the parent organization.

Queen’s Grant High School
10323 Idlewild Rd
Matthews, NC 28105
704.545.0736 | fax 704.545.0738
Principal: Dr. Mike Smith
Bell Schedule: 7:50 am – 2:30 pm
Grades: 9-12
Open House: Grades 9 and 10 August 20, 5-7 pm; Grades 11 and 12 August 21, 5-7 pm

Queen’s Grant High School has new buildings, a paved parking lot, and practice athletic fields this year. At no cost to the school, thanks to an active parent group, a baseball and soccer field will be available for students on campus. The school is also adding a lacrosse team.
Queen’s Grant will be replacing three teachers and adding two more positions. There is also a new assistant principal, Reginald Flenory, and a new guidance counselor, Alan Voigt.
The parent group, Very Involved Parents, will be providing shirts to teachers with their slogan “Why not here? Why not now?”
Principal Dr. Mike Smith wants his students to be volunteers to learn and looks forward to the new year.

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