Student reflects on BMC’s Lisa Wall as Regional Teacher of the Year

posted Feb 9, 2018, 1:38 PM by Cheryl Shuffler

By Student News Ambassador Natalie Ollis

As a high school student, and also college student, it is really important to have a support system that will be there for you to help you with anything that you need. Mrs. Wall is that person for students at Burke Middle College. She is always the first person to ask if everything is going alright in your school, home, and work life, listen to anything we need her for, or give useful, motherly advice when we need it. She always makes us feel like we are a top priority, when sometimes that is lost in a traditional high school setting. If anyone deserves a Teacher of the Year award, it would definitely be her.

For consideration for the award, there was a group of students that answered questions about who Mrs. Wall is, what her teaching style is, and why they think she deserves the award. Many students talked about her “determination to get us excited about learning” and how “no one gets as excited as she does” about teaching us. One student even took the opportunity to speak about how Mrs. Wall helped him with some personal issues that he was facing to help him get back on track. Mrs. Wall also does a lot more for the school, such as composing the alma mater and being in charge of the Leadership Team (SGA).

At the end of the semester in December, Mrs. Wall read seniors a few children’s books to help us get motivated and ready for the English exam. One of these was Oh, the Places You’ll Go from Dr. Seuss. She always strives to remind us that even though we may face setbacks, as long as we try, we will be happy and achieve our goals. After this reading, many BMC students had planned a celebration party for her earning the award. Students brought cards, gifts, cake, food, and love as we celebrated one of our favorite teachers’ career success.

Mrs. Wall is looking forward to the next step of this process, which will include an additional interview in February and the final announcement in April. She knows that she will be involved in an educational team to raise awareness to help students and teachers all over the state, and she would love to win the final award to allow her to lead this team and further share her passion for education. She says, “I know that whatever adventure lies ahead, I will go into it with enthusiasm and give it my best effort.” Which is exactly what we all knew she would do.

BMC Seniors Complete Graduation Projects

posted Dec 19, 2017, 7:49 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

By BCPS Student News Ambassador and BMC senior Natalie Ollis


            On Monday, December 4th, 2017, the seniors of BMC started their day in a panic but ended it with a sweet wave of relief. Senior projects are finally over!

To the BMC Seniors: We should all be extremely proud that we have successfully gone through our final high school rite of passage before graduation. From the extensive research for our papers, to the long hours spent completing our projects, to stressing over speeches, to finally walking out of the presentation room, we have finished a project that was completely our own to prepare us for the real world. Congratulations!!!!

For the first time in a few years, EVERY BMC senior made an A grade on their presentations!! This just goes to show the incredible dedication and commitment that every student at Burke Middle College puts into everything that they do. Mrs. Wall, the BMC English teacher, is also a great resource for everyone at the school whether it’s to give motivation, encouragement, or self discipline and determination. Senior projects may seem like too much work, but for the most part, everyone has found some positives such as growth in organization and planning, future career plans, or a newfound passion. By leading these projects, topics ranging from animal rehabilitation, motorcycle safety, architecture, healthcare, education, and graphic design to name a few, everyone has learned more than a few things from this experience. Many students were also able to use these projects as a way to give back to the community in some way, volunteering for a multitude of community organizations to complete hours, while some students are even planning to continue the work after the official project is complete.


Here are some quotes from the BMC seniors themselves:


“Seeing students’ passion for learning was truly inspiring and I am forever grateful for the experience I got from working with the second graders at Mull Elementary.” - Brooke Matthews (Elementary Education)


“It was amazing to see how excited children get about reading... I’ve always loved reading so it was great to see children who love it so much. From this I know that I want to work with children.” - Ollie Hilton (Childhood Reading)


“[It is interesting] how children can improve over time. It was amazing to see how the children overcame obstacles. I truly loved it, and from this I know I want to be an Occupational Therapist one day!” - Megan Sheffield (Occupational Therapy)


“It was so enlightening to see the future generation of mental healthcare professionals mature and develop in their knowledge of the stigma around things like mental illnesses and psychiatric hospitals!” - Andrew Webb (Mental Health Stigma)




OPT-IN to SchoolMessenger

posted Sep 23, 2015, 10:40 AM by Burke Middle College   [ updated Oct 9, 2015, 6:38 AM ]

Want to receive SchoolMessenger text messages? Text the word Yes to 68453. Burke County Public Schools and your child’s school use SchoolMessenger to send notifications. Phone calls and emails are automatic, but to receive texts, you must opt-in. If we have your cell number on file, and you text Yes to 68453, you will receive texts from us.

Cheryl M. Shuffler
Public Relations Officer
Burke County Public Schools
(w) 438-2989 | (c) 432-6212


posted Jan 9, 2015, 8:03 AM by Bcps Bcps   [ updated Nov 14, 2017, 6:58 AM by Cheryl Shuffler ]

Student news ambassadors help tell schools’ stories




What better way to tell the story of what is happening in our schools than through the lens of our students? The Burke County Public Schools’ public relations department is continuing its internship program this fall with student news ambassadors. Ten students representing each high school are submitting stories, photos, videos and social media posts of student life in Burke County Public Schools. Public Relations Officer Cheryl Shuffler said, “These talented young people are doing a great job of accentuating the positive in our schools. Our goal, especially on social media, is for the students to help us hip up (or whatever word kids are using these days) our social media presence so that it is more relevant to the students we serve.”

Over the summer, BCPS hired 10 interns to work as custodians, at the bus garage and in public relations. Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said. “This fall internship program is our way of keeping the momentum going as we had such a great experience with our summer interns. We took a chance, paid them $1 above minimum wage and got great workers out of the deal. Plus these young people garnered skills they can use in the real world and experience they can put on a resume. Our fall interns are getting great experience too, and are building portfolios of work that will help them in college and beyond. We encourage other businesses and industries out there to consider starting an internship program and helping us lay the groundwork for developing our own future workforce.”

Others interested in hiring Burke County Public Schools students as interns can contact Jamie Norton, BCPS Career and Technical Education and internship coordinator, at 438-2997.

Meet our Student News Ambassadors for Burke Middle College - Natalie Ollis - as she introduces herself in her own words:

Hello! My name is Natalie Ollis, and I am currently a senior at Burke Middle College! I am currently working toward my associate’s in science degree because I want to transfer to university and major in biochemistry. Eventually, I want to go into the pharmaceutical field to develop new medicines. I am on the BMC Leadership Team (SGA), Western Piedmont Community College's SGA, and I'm the president of the joint Rotaract service club! I am also very involved in Girl Scouts and volunteering in the community.

BMC student stars in radio play

By Natalie Ollis, Burke Middle School student  

Burke Middle College senior Dylan Pope played Dr. Jack Sward in the radio play “Dracula” which the Western Piedmont Community College drama department put on recently. What made the play different was the actors read their lines on stage into microphones to voice act instead of regular acting in costumes and stage makeup. Students Jaycee Phasiname, Maureen Dougher and Terry Doyle were narrators and Antoni Williams and Conner Caldwell manned the sound table, adding sound effects to the production, in addition to echoing the voices in the microphones. This play was performed just after Halloween, so it kept the spooky festivities going just a little bit longer for everyone who attended.

In the radio play, Dr. Jack Seward is a doctor at an asylum in the play. His fiancé (voiced by Alyssa Brown) is taken and killed by the vampire, Dracula (voiced by Holden Huffman). Dr. Jack has helpers around the hospital, played by Elizabeth Wilkie and Carrie Williams. A resident of the institution (J.R. Brodie) invites Dracula in and works with him, allowing Lucy to be taken. Jack’s friend, Jonathan (Noah McDowell), and another doctor (Avery Poteat) come in to offer him support and give advice. They go out to try to find Lucy one night when they realize the depth of what has happened. In the attempt to find her, along with other missing women in the town, John’s wife (Samantha Ledford) is almost taken, but is saved in the end. Dracula is eventually defeated, because the search party exposes him to sunlight. This does not bring Lucy back, but it does save the rest of the town from encountering terror.

Sydney Hunt, a BMC senior who came to one of the performances to support Dylan, said that the play “was really professional” and she liked that “the sounds were pretty spooky.” This play, directed by Deborah Lonon and assistant Elizabeth Wilkie, put a great end to the Halloween season at the WPCC campus. Katie Gwaltney, another BMC senior who attended the play on the first night, said, “The play was outstanding! I loved how it wasn’t a dress up play. I will definitely come and watch more plays performed at WPCC”

The play offered students a way to get involved in school activities and encouraged student involvement and support of other peers through drama and the arts.

BMC, WPCC host Halloween fest

By Natalie Ollis, Burke Middle School student

Burke Middle College students participated in Western Piedmont Community College’s annual Treat or Treat Halloween fest on Oct. 31. The annual event welcomed more than a hundred children dressed as trick-or-treaters to the campus. The event included carnival games and candy treats from students and faculty. This year’s theme of the Halloween bash hosted by the WPCC SGA was The Land of Oz. The members of WPCC’s SGA wore Wizard of Oz themed costumes.

Different WPCC sponsored clubs and Burke Middle College students set up booths for the kids to do coloring pages, play small games and fill their Halloween bags with candy. WPCC’s SGA, Business Office, English Department, Science Club, and Rotaract Club, as well as the BMC Leadership Team, and other clubs set up tables with different activities for the kids to choose from. A fan favorite was the fishing game where BMC students sat behind a cubicle wall while kids with rods “fished” for the candy behind it. There was also a duck toss, ring toss, slime station and other fun games and activities.

Angel Xiong, WPCC SGA president and BMC senior dressed as Dorothy. She loves treat-or-treat because, she said, “There were so many kids that had fun and enjoyed their time. I loved seeing everyone in their costumes and enjoyed giving out candy.”

Katie Gwaltney and Kaitlyn Tallent, both BMC seniors, also dressed up as characters from the Wizard of Oz as part of the WPCC SGA. Most of the kids that attended were dressed up as well as the WPCC and BMC students that helped make the event happen. There were Harley Quinns, Pokemon, super heroes, villains and scary costumes, too.

BMC senior Rebecca Parker, who helped with the fishing game, said seeing all the kids dressed up in costume, made her reminisce on the times when she went trick or treating. She said, “It was fun to see the kids get excited.”

BMC, WPCC elect Rotaract officers

By Natalie Ollis, Burke Middle School student

The Western Piedmont Community College Rotaract Club recently elected new officers. All of the officers are Burke Middle College students. They are Natalie Ollis, president, Makayla Burton, president-elect, Zong Lor, vice president, Candace Farris, secretary, Elizabeth Gaines, historian and Margie Hernandez-Pascual, treasurer. 

The Rotaract Club is a volunteering club where members participate in school and community events to help others by donating time and/or money to make the community a better place. In the past, the club has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity builds, a local Morganton soup kitchen, Stop Hunger Now, angel trees, and Operation Christmas Child. All members of this club are dedicated to service and strive to connect with the community and each other when contributing to the greater good.

Natalie said, “I can’t wait to see what the new officers will bring to the table.”

Makayla, a BMC junior, said “I am passionate about helping the community, like working with others...and like putting smiles on people’s faces.” This statement embodies who the Rotaract Club members are and it is a great quality for the future leader to have.

BMC senior Zong Lor said, “A leader is a person who will willingly rise to the occasion and help support his or her friends. The person must be honest, open-minded, and encouraging.”

Zong has these qualities, and that is why the other members of the club voted for him to be this year’s vice president.

Becoming involved in a school club is important because it encourages being social, helpful, educated and leadership. Clubs allow students to become further involved with their school and community in a simple way that is extremely beneficial to everyone involved. Leadership positions are often strived for due to the fact that they give students the chance to be creatively free and also be able to put their own projects, plans and ideas into action. These things give students valuable life skills that can be practiced further in the club activities, but also in school, work, and everyday life. There were many positions to fill for this club, and the Burke Middle College students jumped at the opportunity.

Students use the sun to make s’mores

By Natalie Ollis, Burke Middle School student

The focus of the AIG field trips to the STEAM Academy, located at the Western Piedmont Community College campus, for third through eighth graders this semester has been solar power. The STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art/agriculture, and mathematics) program is a great resource for elementary- and middle-school aged students in the county to explore learning outside of their traditional classrooms. The students are learning about the sun through hands-on projects and activities to enhance their learning and experience.

Some of the projects that the students worked on include homemade solar ovens, Snap Circuits, and K’nex Kits. They made solar ovens out of cardboard boxes, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil and set them outside in order to heat up s’mores. This helped them witness, first hand, the power of the sun on an easier-to-see level. They used K’nex Kits, which are similar to Legos, and could choose to build one of three solar models. They also used Snap Circuits to learn how circuitry and solar energy work together. STEAM instructors Sara Swan and Greta Browning also presented information about the sun, its energy and the power that it can provide for human use. They emphasized the importance of clean, renewable energy and its impact on the earth by reducing waste and harmful emissions. By doing the projects, students were able to get a better understanding of real-world solar energy systems.

Learning about solar energy is incredibly important for students today, because with dwindling nonrenewable resources, there is a greater need for renewable energy. Browning said, "It is so important for our students to understand the importance of conserving resources for the future. Learning about the benefits of solar energy, and other types of renewable energy, gives our students a better understanding of alternative energy sources. If the future engineers and scientists aren’t taught the importance of alternative energy, we will still have to rely on the nonrenewable fossil fuels as our primary energy source, which could be detrimental to our environment.”

Swan said, “When we develop our units for STEAM, we always strive to create lessons that bring awareness to what may be happening globally and provide students with opportunities to explore issues or new phenomena and make connections at a local level. We want students to think about their future and how their actions impact our world. It is easier for students to begin by making a personal connection to an issue before they expand to fully understand the big issue and impacts.”

The STEAM Academy accomplished their goal by teaching the students about solar energy at a personal level, and then explaining how it impacts the rest of the world.


BMC celebrates Fall Fest at WPCC

By Natalie Ollis, Burke Middle School student


Western Piedmont Community College and Burke Middle College students come together every year for a huge event called Fall Fest. It is a favorite school event because there is free lunch catered from a local restaurant, club booths, music, games and crafts to take home. Jake’s catered hamburgers, hotdogs and chips this year, and there were funnel cakes for dessert. Fall Fest allows students to connect with each other and have fun at school to take a break from class.

During Fall Fest, many clubs set up booths in order to promote involvement with the student body. Some clubs that set up were the Science Club, ASL Club and Rotaract Club. There were some colleges that set up tables too, such as Appalachian State University, and also the WPCC Financial Aid advisors. Carly Carpenter, a senior at Burke Middle College, said that she “enjoyed seeing all of the different clubs and organizations gaining support and interacting with the students and staff.” She volunteered, working to serve the food for the students, because she said she wanted to support the SGA and be involved in her schools.

Fall Fest is also known for the crafts and games. This year, there was a blow up laser tag arena, DIY tie-dye coasters and personalized license plates. Angel Xiong, WPCC SGA president and BMC senior, was very excited about the turnout for the crafts and event itself. She said her favorite part was the customizable tie-dye coasters. She said, “It was a great experience being able to personalize and design a coaster that I can hold onto forever.”

Students tie-dyed the coasters using sharpies and alcohol, and then could further personalize them by putting on a monogram sticker. SGA student volunteers also helped students make license plates to take home, or put on the front of their vehicles.

Senior volunteers at BUCM

By Natalie Ollis, Burke Middle School student

Rebecca Parker has been working on her senior project at the Burke United Christian Ministries over the past few months. She understands that volunteering is important, so she has been working hard to help the organization and the people in the community it serves. Rebecca has been helping BUCM unload trucks of supplies and by working in the food pantry and clothing closet. She hopes to be able to volunteer in their soup kitchen soon as well.

Rebecca wants to spread awareness for homelessness, because, she said, “providing help for (others) will benefit you just as much as it will benefit them.” With cold weather coming soon, Rebecca is running a drive to help get donations for the ministry. She is taking “camping supplies” such as tents, canned foods, tarps, clothes, boots, coats, and toiletries through Friday, Oct. 13 in the Burke Middle College offices.

Rebecca has set several goals for herself through her project. For her drive, she wants to get enough donations to keep people out of the cold. She also wants to spread awareness for homelessness, be more selfless and encourage others to be more willing to help others in times of need. She explained that although she has never been homeless, she remembers a time when she wasn’t as fortunate as she is now, and doesn’t want to take the privileges she has for granted. Because of this, she’d like to go back to her roots by being more caring and providing help for others in similar situations. Lisa Wall, Rebecca’s senior English teacher, said, “Rebecca’s work at the Burke United Christian ministries and donation drive to help homeless people in our community shows her passion to make a positive impact on the world around her.” Rebecca plans to continue to work with BUCM even after the end of her project in hopes to accomplish these goals.

Girl Scout hosts volunteer fair for Gold Award

By Natalie Ollis, Burke Middle School student

Lauren Arney, a senior at Burke Middle College, has been involved with Girl Scouts since she was in elementary school. She has been working on her Gold Award project for a couple months now, and all her hard work paid off when she held her “Get Connected: Volunteer Fair” in the Western Piedmont Community College library Sept. 14. Lauren has always been active in the community, both with Girl Scouts and independently, and that was her inspiration when deciding what her project was going to be. While taking a public speaking class, Lauren researched a speech and said, “I found out how little the average person volunteers, but how crucial they are. It was then that I wanted to create something that was like a job fair, but with volunteer opportunities instead.”

Ten different community organizations came out and set up booths to inform students of volunteering opportunities, including Girl and Boy Scouts, J Iverson Riddle Developmental Center, United Way and Lily Pad Haven. Nearly 70 WPCC and BMC students, as well as some WPCC faculty and staff members, came out to learn about how to get more involved in the community. Lauren said “During the event, you could see connections being made, which was what the project was all about.” She plans to expand this project to become an annual event hosted by the Student Government Association at WPCC in order to encourage more high school and college students to seek out volunteering opportunities and continue to help others.

Lauren put a lot of time and effort into arranging this fair for the students of WPCC. From planning the organizations and a personal booth, to fundraising, getting donations from local businesses, and getting the word out, Lauren made sure that she planned a great and informative event. Lauren chose popular organizations that she has worked with before and she also planned surveys for participants to fill out and enter for drawing prizes in order to further encourage attendance and support. Monica Arney, Lauren’s mother and leader of GS Troop 10455, thinks that Lauren’s project was important to her personal success and achievement as well as Morganton as a whole because, she said, “becoming involved in one’s community is vital to its growth. The volunteer fair connected students with community organizations where they could share their talents and make lifelong contributions.” Though this was her last project to graduate Scouting, Lauren still plans to continue to be involved in the community to help make wherever she goes a better place for all.

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