Chansky’s Notebook: 21 Tigers Going On To Play

Kudos to 21 Chapel Hill Tiger athletes who will keep playing in college.

Two of those varsity athletes from Chapel Hill High who will go onto play are staying home to attend UNC — track & field’s Harrison Young and volleyball’s Katherine Easterly.

Five other athletes are staying in state to play their sports; football’s Connor Stough at UNC-Pembroke and Albert Nyamayaro at Fayetteville State; women basketball’s Autumn West to Johnson C. Smith; soccer’s John Walden to Elon; and track and field’s Quianiece Fish to North Carolina Central. One will be playing in the ACC, swimmer Claire DeSelm at Notre Dame.

Of the other 13, a pair is going to Case Western Reserve – swimmers Sarah Taekman and Eli Rose; to Denison University – football’s Brian Jones and Conner Korfas.

Cross Country’s Max Blackburn is off to Colorado College; soccer’s Morgan Brandewie to Emory University; Track’s Marija Crook to Oberlin College; swimmer C.J. Eron to University of Tampa; Lacrosse players Paige Haskins is going to Mary Washington and Kyle Hornik to Queens University; Dillon Kopec will be running track at field at Roanoke College, as will Anna Passannante at Williams College;

And George McBurney will wrestle at the Coast Guard Academy.

The names of these 21 outstanding student-athletes were provided by Chapel Hill High School athletic director Tim Bennett, who is a constant email messenger about everything Tiger sports, as was his predecessor Todd Morgan.

Two Orange County Students Receive Gap Year Fellowship

Taking a gap year between high school and college is becoming more popular. And thanks to the Global Gap Year Fellowship from the Campus Y, two Orange County students are joining the trend.

Sophie Nachman and Thilini Weerakkody are part of the six-student cohort for the upcoming gap year program. They have been awarded $7,500 to use toward travel, living expenses and other costs during their year of service work with the program.

Nachman is graduating from Woods Charter School and plays the violin in the Greensboro Symphony Youth Orchestra. She has used her passion for music to organize community fundraising concerts and support different advocacy groups.

Weerakkody is graduating from Chapel Hill High School and is a member of the Model United Nations, president of the Stop Hunger Now club and a member of the Science Olympiad. She said she is passionate about advocating for others and helping them to find their place in the world.

The Global Gap Year Fellowship was launched in 2011 and is made possible by an anonymous $1.5 million gift to the Campus Y. The program selects a diverse group of North Carolina students based on merit and community involvement to defer enrollment for one year. During this gap year they work to enhance their leadership skills, learn about different world cultures and serve communities around the globe.

Carrboro Aldermen Continue Discussion About Paved Greenway

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen chose not to vote on a resolution that would have made alterations to the planned greenway near Chapel Hill High School.

Board member Randee Haven-O’Donnell said she wanted to be able to answer the concerns of the cross county team before voting on anything.

“If we go forward with this, it doesn’t suggest to the folks that have been so mightily concerned that anything really in terms of action has changed,” she said. “Were we to give it the time at least to get these answers, they would know we’re sincere in the effort to try and make a change.”

Members of the Chapel Hill High School cross country team expressed concerns when they learned the greenway would intersect and pave three parts of their race course.

In an attempt to mitigate this issue, the town worked with the school district to come up with a compromise that included the team changing its course, a greater separation between the course and the new greenway and investigating the possibility of changing the path from concrete to another material.

“Let’s be honest,” assistant coach Dave Mabe said. “There’s no compromise here. You’re congratulating yourselves on how far you’ve bent for us and the compromise is ‘hey guys, you get to fix your trail.'”

Should the town decide to scrap the project, which no board members said they were in favor of, the town would lose the nearly $100,000  it has spent on the project this year.

It would also potentially have to pay back the federal government and private contractors. An attorney for the town said the potential exposure could be between $200,000 and $400,000.

The project is also heavily funded by the Department of Transportation, and he said certain changes in the trail could cause the town to lose the funding it has already secured.

“If we change the project, such as altering the path of the project, of the easement, they would de-obligate the funds for the project,” he said.

The town would have to start the approval process over again to get back the funding it had lost. It would also have to seek approval from UNC for the new path.

Town staff will try to get back to the board next week about whether changing the trail in certain parts from concrete to some thing more acceptable for the runners is feasible.

Construction is scheduled to begin Monday, but the aldermen will address the issue again in their meeting Tuesday.

Cross country head coach Joan Mabe said she was disappointed with the aldermen’s decision and hoped some kind of rubber surface or gravel path could be put in place for the parts of the trail that intersected the course.

Residents Ask Carrboro Board Of Aldermen To Reconsider Bolin Creek Greenway

Community members came out in full force to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night to express their opposition to a paved greenway the town is planning near Chapel Hill High School.

Members of the Chapel Hill High cross county team were concerned about the effect the path would have on their training because the path intersects their course at three different locations .

“As a team we’ve run on enough pavement,” runner Lizzie Mabe said. “We have been trying for many years to get a rubber track to replace our old asphalt one. The irony here is clear. The very year we get to escape the pavement on our track, our cross country course and primary training loop could be destroyed by concrete.”

The project dates back to 2003 and a contract has been awarded to lay the pavement.

The trail in its entirety would run nearly 2,100 feet, with parts running parallel to Bolin Creek and near a tennis court used by Smith Middle School.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education chairman James Barrett said there were safety concerns with having the pavement intersect the course.

“Practice happens every day on this,” he said. “We’ve got runners coming out of the woods and going across the path. If there’s bikers going quickly on the pavement there that’s a concern.”

Carrboro mayor Lydia Lavelle said the Board of Aldermen was unaware the project would cross over the cross country course a total of three times until last week when the school was notified construction would soon begin.

“Our staff has been scouring and going over and reviewing all of the immense paperwork and time and energy and effort that’s gone in to putting together this section of our greenway system,” Lavelle said. “And try to figure out the precise problem there and find out if we can mitigate it or not.”

Construction is scheduled to begin May 16. Lavelle said for the time being the town is not going to delay construction, but that is still a possibility.

She said she has received alternatives from the cross county coaching staff and the town is trying to figure out what to do next.

“Part of what we’re doing is trying to sort out all of the legalese of it,” Lavelle said. “It’s really far along in the process and it’s really complicated in a way that we don’t really even understand yet, but we hope to get the information by Tuesday.”

The aldermen will meet again Tuesday and will get an update on project.

“Color The Hill” – And Yourself – For A Cause (Or Three)

On Saturday, May 21, you’re invited to head to Finley Fields for the fourth annual Color the Hill Fun Run – billed as the most “colorful” run in town.

Beginning at 9:30 a.m., “Color the Hill” is a 4K run – or jog, or skip, or casual stroll – along the route used by UNC’s cross country team. Along the way, you’ll pass through five “color stations” where volunteers will shower you with non-toxic colored powder. (Don’t worry, it washes off.) At the finish line, there’s a party featuring music, food trucks and giveaways – and every runner gets their own packet of colored powder, so you can shower each other with color as well.

It’s all to benefit three terrific local causes: the SKJAJA Fund, the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Academy of Information Technology (AOIT), which is based at Chapel Hill High.

The AOIT is a three-year program for students to learn technical skills and apply them in practice: students collaborate on technology-based projects, not only in computer classes but also in fields like English. (Last year’s AOIT class made a documentary about the “Bedford Boys,” a group of WWII vets from Bedford, Virginia, who fought at Omaha Beach on D-Day. The project included a field trip to Bedford, to the National D-Day Memorial.)

Laura Malinchock is a committee member for Color the Hill and a mother of two AOIT students; she joined Aaron Keck on WCHL to discuss Color the Hill, along with AOIT student David Hadar, a junior at Chapel Hill HS.


The Be Loud! Sophie Foundation was founded in honor of Sophie Steiner, who died of cancer in 2013 at the age of 15; its mission is to raise money to support adolescent and young adult cancer patients. (There are existing programs that support kids with cancer, but those programs often miss adolescents and young adults.) Be Loud! Sophie has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars since its founding just a few years ago – enough for UNC Hospitals to hire an adolescent and young-adult program director (Lauren Lux) for the first time ever.

Annabel Steiner, Leah Steiner, and Mia Colloredo-Mansfeld joined Aaron Keck on WCHL to discuss the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation.


If you’d like to register for “Color the Hill,” you can get more info and sign up online at Registration is $36 for anyone 11 and up, or $16 for kids 5-10 with a paying adult. (Kids under 5 can run for free with a paying adult.)

Realtors’ “Day Of Service” At Chapel Hill HS

This Monday, April 11, dozens of local realtors will head to Chapel Hill High School for a “Realtor Day of Service,” performing maintenance work to spruce up the campus from 9 am to noon.

They’re with the Greater Chapel Hill Association of Realtors, working with the CHCCS volunteer office. According to a district spokesperson, they’ll be tackling a variety of projects, including:

– Cleaning up, reorganizing and staging the trophy cases in the commons area between the cafeteria and the main gym, and down the hall to the lower gym;
– Painting the exterior wall of the main gym concession stand with spirited gold and black paint;
– Weeding, cleaning out and mulching the gardens in front of Hanes Auditorium;
– Weeding, cleaning out and mulching the memorial gardens near the front parking lot.

Orange Chatham Association of Realtors CEO Cub Berrian, CHCCS Volunteer Coordinator Julie Hennis, and Laura Malinchock of the Chapel Hill High School PTA joined Aaron Keck on WCHL to discuss the “Day of Service.”

CHHS Runners Break School Record

Chapel Hill High School runners broke the school record in the 4×1 mile race in New York over the weekend.

Anna Passannante, Clare McNamara, Marija Crook and Katherine Dokholyan each ran one leg of the race and finished with a time of 21:14, breaking their own school record by 44 seconds.

The time was good enough for 10th in the nation at New Balance Nationals Indoor.

Tigers’ coach Joan Nesbit Mabe said it may have been the second-fastest 4×1 mile in North Carolina high school history.

“Untold Stories Of Pearl Harbor”

Franklin Roosevelt described it as “a date which will live in infamy”…but there’s still a great deal about Pearl Harbor that isn’t widely known.

Chapel Hill High School history teacher and author Bill Melega is giving a free lecture on “The Untold Stories of Pearl Harbor” Saturday, January 23, from 10:30 am to noon at the SECU Family House in Chapel Hill. Melega will share personal stories of survivors, talk about the events leading up to the attack, and answer frequently asked questions.

Bill Melega (and Sondra Komada of the SECU Family House) spoke this week with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


Melega is the author of “Bringing the Great War Home, Volume IV,” part of a series on World War I, as well as an SAT review book for Barron’s Publishing. He’s also been widely recognized for his teaching skills: he was CHHS Teacher of the Year in 2007-08, and in 2010 he was named the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Citizenship Teacher of the Year.

The lecture is free, but space is limited. To reserve a spot, email Sondra Komada:

Located at 123 Old Mason Farm Road, the SECU Family House provides low-cost housing for patients at UNC Hospitals, as well as their families.

Chapel Hill High School’s Sherry Norris Named Girl’s Basketball Coach of the Year

Sherry Norris has been named the 2015 National Federation of State High School Associations Girl’s Basketball Coach of the Year at the state level.

The recognition came in a letter to Norris dated January 8.

The letter from the NFHS says, “Your contributions on behalf of high school athletics are deserving of our appreciation.”

The group recognizes coaches at the state, sectional and national level, according to the letter.

Norris was selected to the North Carolina High School Athletics Association Hall of Fame in August.

Norris has been Chapel Hill High School’s women’s basketball coach since 1977. Norris also coached the Tigers’ volleyball team from 1977 to 2013.

Chapel Hill High School Grad’s Documentary Aims to Fight Mental Health Stigma

The holiday season is a time for stories and there are few as inspirational as one that is from the lives of a family in our community.

Kristen Powers is a Chapel Hill High School alumna and is now a senior at Stanford. But when she was a young girl her mother was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, setting Kristen off on a journey to help others in her situation.

She spoke with WCHL’s Blake Hodge about her story.


Twitch is available for rent or download through Vimeo OnDemand, iTunes and Google Play.