LCPS holds Opening Day rally at Grainger Stadium
Teachers and staff from Northwest Elementary School cheer during Monday’s Opening Day rally at Historic Grainger Stadium. Photo by Linda Whittington / Neuse News
Opening Day at Grainger Stadium isn’t just for the Down East Wood Ducks.
Lenoir County Public Schools kicked off the first day for teachers and staff with a celebration at the historic stadium. Nearly all of the system’s employees — more than 1,100 teachers, administrators and other staff members are employed by LCPS — were in attendance, including North Lenoir principal Gil Respess, who said it was a great way to prepare for the school year.
“We haven’t done something like this in a while, so it helped everyone get fired up for the start of the school year,” Respess said. “I had a couple of high school flashbacks myself — we all rode here on the activity bus together to Grainger Stadium.”
LCPS Board Member Richard Bogan said he could feel the excitement throughout the area.
“There was great energy here and it was a good way for all of the staff to come together and prepare for this upcoming school year,” Bogan said. “Talking to teachers, they said something like this hasn’t been done in years and never at Grainger Stadium, so it was a way to bring back tradition.”
Most of the Lenoir County Board of Commissioners were in attendance, including Vice Chairman Roland Best, who said Monday’s event was needed.
“It was great for the staff to develop continuity and it was an uplifting event for the teachers, principals and administrators,” Best said. “As commissioners, we wanted to show our support as they prepare for another great school year.”
N.C. Sen. Jim Perry (R-Lenoir) and N.C. Rep. Chris Humphrey (R-Lenoir) were in attendance and spoke at the event. Both graduated from South Lenoir — Humphrey in 1998 and Perry two years later — and stressed the importance of teachers.
“The children truly are the future of our county and we wanted to express how vital these educators are in what they do each day to prepare them,” Perry said. “Chris and I were talking before the event about teachers in our lives growing up and how thankful we were that they went above and beyond.”
The keynote speaker of the event was Burlington Williams High School teacher Freebird McKinney, who energized the crowd by talking about the vital roles teachers play across the state.
“I thought his speech was very inspirational, real and to the point,” Rochelle Middle School teacher Letita Joyner said.
McKinney, the 2018 N.C. Teacher of the Year, is preparing for his 15th year in the profession.
“Sometimes, teachers don’t get to hear enough about how important they are to society,” McKinney said. “I’ve been blessed to travel across the state to show support and express how vital they are in the communities they serve.”
Classes begin Monday, Aug. 26 for all the schools in the LCPS system.