Rain Or Shine, “Tiger Chill” Is On At CHHS Saturday

Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, tiger beats hurricane.

The threat of heavy weather this weekend is causing postponements and cancellations of events across the Triangle, but Chapel Hill High School is going forward with their annual “Tiger Chill” carnival on Saturday, with proceeds to benefit teachers’ professional development and other programs at the school.

(One accommodation to the weather: organizers are moving Tiger Chill inside.)

The carnival features inflatables, games, food trucks, live music and more. It runs from 4-8 pm at Chapel Hill High School; there’s a cost to play the games but admission is free.

Sondra Komada is the co-founder and organizer of Tiger Chill. She stopped by WCHL on Friday and spoke with Aaron Keck.


High School Football Preview: Week 3

This week WCHL will be at Chapel Hill High School cover the game between CHHS and Carrboro. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 o’clock.

Last year Chapel Hill beat Carrboro 41-19.

The Tigers got their first win of the season last week against South Granville 46-29. They were led by QB Conner Stough, who showed off his legs as well as his arm. He threw three touchdown passes and ran for another.

Carrboro is coming off of a close loss to East Chapel Hill last week 30-27. The Jaguars are looking to build off the momentum RB Greyson Magee built; the senior ran for 165 yards and four touchdowns. Despite his strong performance, the Jaguars still fell to 0-2 on the season.

Make sure to tune into WCHL for coverage of the game this weekend.

In other action, Orange travels to Riverside and Northwood travels to Jordan Matthews. Cedar Ridge knocked off East Chapel Hill on Thursday night 29-6.


“TigerLinks” Helps Freshmen Transition To High School

Back-to-school time is always exciting, but it can also be a tough transition for students – especially students moving from middle to high school.

But at Chapel Hill High School, teachers and students have joined forces to help incoming freshmen make that transition a successful one.

They’re doing it through a program called TigerLinks – which pairs incoming first-year students up with juniors and seniors who serve as informal mentors throughout the year. Improving on an earlier mentoring program, TigerLinks launched last year and continues into year two this week.

The idea, say organizers, is to improve grades, reduce behavioral issues, and help shrink the everpresent achievement gap as well.

Teachers Tom Stanfa and Myles Aitken are in charge of the program, along with Randy Trumbower, William Melega, Veena Rajan, and assistant principal Anna Hipps. Nearly a hundred juniors and seniors serve in mentoring roles: the program pairs them up and assigns them to groups of 10-13 incoming freshmen.

Tom Stanfa and Myles Aitken joined Aaron Keck on WCHL last week, along with student mentors Jade Martens and Hanna Siekiersky.


CHHS Grad Builds Playground For Haitian Orphanage

Chapel Hill High graduate Allie Parker has just returned from Haiti, where she and a team of 24 volunteers helped build a playground for orphaned children. Parker says the project was a hit with the kids.


“On the last day, right before we flew out, we went with them over to see it. They loved it,” Parker recalls. “I think at first they were a little confused, but after they all got out on it, they were having fun and they didn’t want to leave.”

The children at the Yahve-Jire Children’s Foundation range from infants to 18-year-olds. Some teens who have aged out of care at the facility stay on as staff members.

“A few of them have lost their parents to the earthquake, but most of them, their parents just can’t afford to keep them, so the owner has taken in 25 kids,” says Parker. She notes he has plans to expand to accommodate up to 60 children.


Parker and others raised $4,000 for the project in conjunction with the Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Raleigh. This is her second trip to Haiti to help rebuild following the devastating earthquake five years ago.

She says she’d like to go on similar service project trips to Haiti and Nicaragua in the future. In the meantime, Parker is preparing to start classes at Virginia Tech this fall.


Chansky’s Notebook: East Football Needs Creative Solution

This is today’s Art Chansky’s Sports Notebook as heard on 97.9 WCHL. You can listen to previous Sports Notebooks here.

It’s time for East Chapel Hill to drop football or merge its team with another school.

Here we are in July and less than a month away from prep football practice around the state. And East Chapel Hill High School has not officially named its new head coach. Supposedly, it is Ryan Johnson, the defensive coordinator on the Wildcats’ 0-11 team last season that had to forfeit three of its last four games due to a shortage of healthy players.

The team began last season with only 23 kids and was down to 16 when it forfeited the games that it would have lost anyway. Even the 35 who Johnson said showed up for the most recent spring workouts is not enough for a team that competes in the state’s largest-school category, 4-A.

Johnson will be at least the fourth head coach in the last 10 years at the prestigious high school that regularly produces state championships in soccer, tennis, golf, lacrosse and cross country. In fact, there is not another bad sports team practicing on the Weaver Dairy Road fields. Football, because so few kids go out for the team, has always been the exception for Wildcat athletics.

Since Bill Renner, Bryn’s father, coached East to a couple of winning seasons and built a respectable program, it has slid back into gridiron obscurity, where it will remain until more kids go out for football or the sport is dropped altogether. That would be unfair for those kids who want to play and play well. Drew Davis, son of Butch, threw for 4,000 yards on Renner’s teams and there is usually at least one Division 1 prospect on the squad.

Since proportionally fewer kids go out for football at all 3 Chapel Hill high schools, some sort of merger in the sport seems logical. Imagine how good a consolidated team would be, combining players from East, Chapel Hill and Carrboro High Schools. At the very least, if East were to drop football, its players should have the option to transfer to another school or, better yet, just be allowed to play for the Chapel Hill Tigers or Carrboro Jaguars.

That would save some money for the school system and actually improve the chances for the high schools off Homestead and Smith Level roads to post great seasons and go deep into the state playoffs. The traditional way of fielding a football team at East clearly is not working. It’s time for some creative thinking.


Civil War and WWI Lectures Offered by CHHS Teacher

The Civil War and World War I are still topics that generate interest today and an opportunity exists to brush up on your history knowledge – and learn something new.

Bill Melega is a history teacher at Chapel Hill High School and was named the 2010 Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Teacher of the Year. He is bringing his expertise to the community in the form of a weekly lecture covering portions of two of the most polarizing wars in human history.

Melega says the lectures will be broken into portions. “[We’ll do] five weeks on the Civil War,” he says, “and then we’re going to dispel myths of World War I.”

This is the third year that Melega has offered the community lectures; this year’s Civil War portion will cover the period from 1864 through the assassination of President Lincoln.

Melega says there are many interesting stories to tell from this time in American history.

The five lectures covering the final stages of the Civil War begin Thursday night, January 8 from 7 to 8:30. The cost of attending the lectures is $75 for the entire series or $20 per session.

The World War I portion of the lectures will take place the five weeks following the Civil War presentations.

All of the proceeds will benefit the PTSA.

More information is available here.


CHCCS Says 83% Of Lockdown Alerts Were Successfully Delivered

After Tuesday’s precautionary lockdown at Chapel Hill High, some parents are wondering why they didn’t get a phone call alerting them to the incident, but Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s Executive Director for Community Relations Jeff Nash says the majority of those calls were delivered.

“Eighty-three percent of the phone calls were considered successful deliveries; 17 percent were unsuccessful deliveries,” says Nash.

The school was placed on lockdown due to an altercation between students in which one student was reportedly pepper-sprayed by another student by accident.

Nash said it took approximately ten minutes to locate the pepper spray and confirm the incident was under control. Once that happened, the automated calls went out.

“The message went out at 2:48 p.m,” says Nash. “According to our stats it took eight minutes for the message to go out to all the phone numbers, so by 2:56 p.m. everybody had been called.”

1,151 calls were successfully delivered to either a live person or an answering machine. The 244 calls that were not delivered mostly went unanswered.

Nash says the call was an outreach call, a type of update that is usually delivered to a family’s primary contact number. Had the situation been more serious, Nash says the school would have sent out a message to all possible contact numbers.

“There’s also an emergency message that we can use in some situations where it would reach every phone number a parent has, up to six numbers per household,” says Nash. “In this case it was an outreach message so it was more of an update on ‘here’s what happened, it’s been handled.’ It went out quickly and it went out as a phone call.”

Nash notes that in some cases, families may have dropped a land line in favor of mobile phone service, but forgotten to alert the school system to the change.

If you are the parent of a child in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and you want to update your contact number,  you can contact the Data Manager at each school.

Here’s the full breakdown of how Tuesday’s outreach calls were delivered:

Successful Deliveries 83% (1151)
  Live Delivery 514
  Answering Machine 637
Unsuccessful Deliveries 17% (244)
  Hangup 5
  Busy 17
  No Answer 204
  Fax/Modem 5
  Phone Network Busy 6
  Opted-Out 4
  Bad Phone Number 9

CHHS Precautionary Lockdown Lifted

3:55 p.m. update: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools spokesperson Jeff Nash confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the school was placed on lockdown due to an altercation between students. He said one student apparently pepper sprayed another student.

It took approximately ten minutes to locate the pepper spray and confirm the incident was controlled, according to Nash. He said the student said it was an accident.

Story originally posted September 23, 2014, 3:45 p.m.

A receptionist at Chapel Hill High School confirmed Tuesday at around 2:45 p.m. that the school was locked down as a precaution Tuesday but that the lockdown was no longer active.

The receptionist couldn’t give further details about why the school was placed on lockdown or when it occurred. She said Assistant Principal Kevin Kay could provide more information, but when forwarded to his extension, he did not answer.

News of the lockdown was initially shared by the parent of a student on Facebook. She posted that neither she nor her student knew why the school was locked down.


All NCHSAA Basketball Finals To be Played In Chapel Hill This Season

Commissioner Davis Whitfield of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association confirmed Wednesday that the eight NCHSAA basketball championship games culminating the 2014-15 season will all be played in Chapel Hill.

Four games will be played at the Smith Center and four games at Carmichael Arena, both on the campus of the University of North Carolina, all on Saturday, March 14. The 2-A and 4-A games for men and women will be played at the Smith Center while the 1-A and 3-A contests are slated fro Carmichael Arena.

2013-14: CHHS Wins 3A NCHSAA Girls’ Basketball State Title With Perfect Season

State basketball championship games have been held at the Smith Center and at Reynolds Coliseum on the North Carolina State University campus every year since 2003, with specific classifications for men and women alternating between the two sites. But major renovations scheduled for Reynolds Coliseum make it unavailable for use for state championship play.

“We look forward to contesting the 2015 NCHSAA state basketball championships on the campus of the University of North Carolina,” said Whitfield. “Since the NCHSAA moved to neutral sites for basketball championships, the Smith Center has figured prominently in that mix, with the first championship there in 1986 not long the after the Smith Center opened. Due to construction taking place at Reynolds, we have to make an adjustment and we thank UNC and its administration for its willingness to open its campus to all four classes of NCHSAA basketball.”

For a number of years, men’s games were played at the Smith Center and women’s at Carmichael Auditorium, and then for a couple of seasons all eight games were played at the Smith Center before the Raleigh-Chapel Hill rotation was developed.


NAACP Calls for Ouster of Assistant Principal at Chapel Hill High UPDATE: Assistant Principal Reassigned

NAACP members and local pastors are backing the angry mother of a 16-year-old boy in calling for the ouster of an assistant principal at Chapel Hill High School.

They’re calling Assistant Principal Julie Hennis “reckless” and “irresponsible” for the way she allegedly handled an alcohol-poisoning incident during summer classes.

“Had my son died, and I’d not even known it, what would they have been able to tell me?” asked Susan Headen, the mother of a 16-year-old African-American male high school student who, until recently, attended Chapel Hill High.

Headen told WCHL that on July 18, she arrived at Chapel Hill High School at 12:30 p.m. to pick up her son from summer school and take him to his part-time job at a veterinarian’s office.

She said he sat in the parking lot for about 20 minutes before she went inside to look for her son. There, she heard some frightening news from a school resource officer. Headen said the officer seemed surprised that she hadn’t received a call.

The officer told her that her son had suffered a seizure and bumped his head.

“I just stood there for a minute, and then I left and went to the hospital, where I found my son, with no name,” said Headen. “He was like a John Doe. They didn’t even know his name.”

She said she arrived at the Intensive Care wing of UNC Hospital to find her son unconscious, and attached to a ventilator. He had serious alcohol poisoning.

Even so, Headen said she had to drive back to Chapel Hill High School to pick up an incident report to bring back to hospital staff.

She said that when she arrived at the school, she spoke to Assistant Principal Julie Hennis, who was reportedly in charge that day.

Headen told WHCL that Hennis informed her that her son would probably be expelled for having alcohol on campus.

The worried mom spent the next 29 hours at the hospital, not knowing whether her son was going to make it. He did regain consciousness and recover, and has since transferred out of Chapel Hill High to Phoenix Academy High School.

Details have emerged since July 18. The student was reportedly found passed out in the school at around 9:50 a.m., three hours before his mom went looking for him. He was transported to the hospital by EMS technicians.

According to Headen, Assistant Principal Hennis did not notify her of the situation, but instead left a message with her other son to have his mother call the school. Hennis provided no details, said Headen.

Headen said that when she went back to Chapel Hill High days later for some explanations, she was told that that there was “no protocol” for handling such a situation during the summer.

News of the incident has outraged members of the local church community, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP has gotten involved. They’re asking for Hennis to be fired.

Ten pastors recently signed a letter to that effect that was sent to the CHCCS Board of Education. One of the signers was Minister Robert L. Campbell, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP.

The letter also demands an investigation into the school resource officer on duty that day. According to Headen, the officer told her that “if this were a real emergency I would have gone,” when she asked him why he didn’t accompany her son to the hospital. The unconscious boy reportedly arrived there without an adult from the school.

At Thursday night’s meeting of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education, two members of the public spoke out about the incident.

One speaker, former Board of Education member Greg McElveen, adhered to the Board’s policy of not naming administrators, faculty or students during comments.

He made it clear, though, that he was criticizing Hennis, and he expressed disappointment to his old colleagues that she still has her job.

“There were clear standards of behavior and conduct that, no one disputes, were ignored and not followed,” said McElveen. “So, many of the facts are not in dispute. And despite that, it appears that that staff member may still be considered a valued employee in the district.”

Another speaker at the meeting, NAACP member Michelle Laws, spoke to WCHL outside the meeting room after she made her comments to the board.

She said she wanted to go on record to say this about the incident:

“Had this been a white child, and a black principal, without question – or assistant principal – without question, she would have been fired on the spot.”

Chapel Hill High School Assistant Principal Julie Hennis is white.

WCHL has reached out to Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools for comments about the issue, and we’ll keep you informed about any developments, as they happen.

UPDATE: Executive Director of Community Relations for CHCCS Jeffrey Nash told WCHL in an email that the school system declined to comment on the matter “to protect the names/reputations of the student and others involved.”

UPDATE:The News & Observer reported Friday that Hennis has been removed from Chapel Hill High School and will be reassigned.