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Decoding Dyslexia

October 15, 2015

dyslexiaThe Auchmuty family, founders of Decoding Dyslexia (DD), work to raise awareness about dyslexia. The family was presented with a proclamation that designates October as Dyslexia Awareness Month by Mayor Dawn Morgan and Governor Pat McCrory.
According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is a language-based learning disability and refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services.
Since first finding out their son, Payne, had dyslexia, Penny and Neil Auchmuty have been fighting and working hard to find him the help he needs.
Neil and Penny first noticed there was something different about Payne when he was about seven-years-old. They explained that Payne has always been smart, but they had a heightened concern when they noticed he wasn’t doing well in school.
In the second grade at the time, Penny and Neil tried to address Payne’s issue; however, they ran into a roadblock, which caused them to start DD.
Neil said DD first started in N.J. with a group of parents who got together to discuss what was going on in their children’s schools. He said they decided to put together a handbook for parents in other states to start a grassroots movement.
“(DD) is parent-led and parent-driven,” he said. “Through Decoding Dyslexia, parents share ideas about how to get the help they need for their children.”
Payne explained what it’s like to have dyslexia.
“It makes it a lot more difficult to answer questions out loud in front of people or reading out loud, and I have a hard time organizing my thoughts,” he said.
Neil added, “Dyslexia is a spectrum disorder, so some people are very mild and others are more severe. Most people recognize it as reading letters backwards, but that’s just the small, well-known piece of it.”
Penny said 10-15 percent of students are dyslexic.
“We need to talk more about it, and with help of legislation, we can get help in our schools,” she said. “The big problem is that you can’t see it, so it’s hard to believe there is an issue.”
Neil said one of the reasons it is such a struggle for students with dyslexia to get help is because dyslexia is so varied. It can be difficult for schools to pinpoint that a student suffers from it, and because their IQ is always average or above average it makes it even more confusing.
Penny and Neil said there have been attempts made at various levels of government (state and federal) to help students with dyslexia. Two of those bills include NC House Bill No. 420 and NC Senate Bill No. 439. Those bills were shot down, Penny noted.
“They introduced these bills this year, but they didn’t go anywhere,” Penny said. “North Carolina Representatives (Debra) Conrad and (Donny) Lambeth were the primary sponsors of Bill No. 420 and North Carolina Senator Paul A. Lowe, Jr. was the primary sponsor of Bill No. 439. All sponsors on the bills were from Forsyth County. We would like to see the bills broken up a bit, but ultimately, it’s up to legislation.”
Although the bills were shot down, Penny and Neil encourage families to speak out.
“You can call your state representatives and share the story about your children in public schools dealing with dyslexia,” Penny said.
Although help specific to dyslexia has not yet made its way into the school system, Neil and Penny have found ways to help their son.
“We worked hard to get him an IEP in school and getting him accommodations, such as extra time, not being graded on spelling, reading quizzes and tests to him orally, and small group activities,” shared Penny. “We also used an Orton-Gillingham tutoring program. It’s a multi-sensory program.”
Penny said Neil and Payne will be attending Parent Camp USA in Washington, D.C. on October 26 at the U.S. Department of Education, which will bring together administrators, teachers, parents and students to talk face-to-face about what works best for kids with dyslexia. Although registration is closed, Penny noted that you can sign up online at to watch the event.
Payne is also doing his part to raise awareness by having participated in a dyslexia awareness video that was put together by Dyslexia Buddies Network’s Founding Mama Bear, Kristin Paxton, and the creator of the film, “Embracing Dyslexia,” by Luis Macias.
The video can be found by searching, “What I wish teachers knew about dyslexia” on YouTube.
“It was debuted at the Everyone Reading Illinois Conference on Tuesday to help spread dyslexia awareness and was shown to 300 teachers,” Penny remarked.
Neil and Penny have also contacted Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School principals.
“We shared the dyslexia awareness month proclamations and asked if they would help to spread dyslexia awareness, and some have,” Penny said. “Southeast Middle School has posted it on their roadside sign and Glenn High School has posted it on their website.”
Penny and Neil said they have also trained to become Augustine Literacy Project tutors through Read-Write-Spell (ReadWS) so they can help tutor students in schools.
Penny also encourages parents to become trained as an IEP (Individual Education Plan) partner through N.C.’s ECAC at (Parent Training and Info Center tab and click on IEP Partners).
“This is a way for parents wanting to make a different to get involved,” Penny remarked.
For more information or to find useful resources, visit one of the following sites: North Carolina’s Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center:; Dyslexia Advantage:; International Dyslexia Association:; Dyslexia Training Institute:; Eye To Eye:; The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity:; Bright Solutions for Dyslexia:; Headstrong Nation:; National Center for Learning Disabilities:; and Understood:

Food Truck Festival

October 15, 2015

brewerThe Brewer’s Kettle in Kernersville is hosting a Food Truck Festival on Saturday, October 24 from 3-9 p.m. to help raise funds for the Belle Raisers Foundation Inc., a local family raising funds and awareness for cystic fibrosis (CF).
The event will feature roughly 18 food trucks, live music from three bands, vendors, a raffle, and N.C. craft beer and wine.
Andy Kennedy, owner of The Brewer’s Kettle in Kernersville, said he chose to have the event benefit the Belle Raisers because of his connection with Mark and Jessica Hanson, whose daughter Annabelle has the unforgiving disease. Having met them at a previous event, he wanted to help.
Annabelle and her twin brother, Dominick, who does not have CF, were born one month early on May 19, 2011. Although they were early, Mark and Jessica were given no indication that there were any health issues with Annabelle, so they were released to go home. The only thing they recalled was that Dominick was one pound heavier than Annabelle, which they noted isn’t unusual for twins who are born early.
It wasn’t until one month later that doctors called to tell them Annabelle has CF. At this point, Dominick was three pounds heavier than his sister.
For Mark and Jessica, the idea of their daughter having a shortened life span and a more complicated life weighed heavy on their hearts.
Jessica explained in an earlier interview with the Kernersville News that CF affects multiple organs in the body, most specifically the lungs.
“People with cystic fibrosis are more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. Things that regular people are able to cough up, she isn’t able to do as well,” she said.
Fortunately, with the help of modern medicine and medical devices, Annabelle has managed to stay relatively healthy, but Mark and Jessica know she may not be healthy forever, as the median life expectancy for someone with CF is 37 years.
Mark said they recently celebrated Annabelle having gone a year without hospitalization, though she did have to go on some oral antibiotic medication recently.
“It’s the little things that are important,” he said.
Mark noted that in April of this year, The Belle Raisers gained their 501(c)3 non-profit status.
“We earned our non-profit status, but we have been active in raising money for cystic fibrosis since Annabelle was diagnosed. We created this vehicle to be a stronger local presence and (to put a face on CF),” he said, noting that you can donate to the Belle Raisers on “If you shop at and use Amazon Smile (, you are able to choose a non-profit and one half of one percent of what you spend on Amazon will go back to that non-profit. When you select a non-profit, look up the Belle Raisers Foundation Inc.”
Mark said the Belle Raisers Foundation is in partnership with the North Carolina Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“Since we have no overhead and are all volunteer based, all of the money we raise goes to help fund their research and patient care initiatives,” he said.
Last year, Mark shared information about a development in the drug industry for people with CF and recently mentioned that the drug Orkambi, a combination therapy, has been FDA approved, but it is currently only for children 12 years of age and older, so Annabelle is unable to take it.
“It’s great news and a big deal. They are going in the right direction. Her age group is not even in clinical trials. She is over four-years-old, so we just have to sit back and wait for now” he said. “It’s not a cure, but for the first time it’s something that will treat the underlying cause instead of treating the symptoms, and we expect bigger and better things to come.”
Mark said he is looking forward to the October 24 Kernersville Food Truck Festival fundraiser at The Brewer’s Kettle.
“We hope it’s a beautiful day. As a family and a group we are so thankful to have the support from the community and we are so thankful to Andy for all the hard work he put into this event. Everything he has done for us is a big deal,” he said.
The food trucks that will be featured at the event include: Bandito Burrito, Tipsy’z Tavern, Wright Up Ur Galley, Camel City Grill, Food Freaks, Munchie Wagon, Urban Street Grill, Jalapeño Truck, Rollin’ Sol, The Great Escape, Small Potatoes Mobile Kitchen, D’s Cakes in a Cup and More, King – Queen Haitian Cuisine, Mystical Sunshine Caribbean Food, Happy Plates Catering, Empanadas Borinquen, Mike and Mike’s Italian Ice, and more.
Bands for the event will include Turpentine Shine, Nitrogen Tone, and Disco Lemonade.
There will be various vendors including Peace Out Vapes, Lab Tattoos, and multiple craft vendors.
Water will be available and individual food trucks will serve non-alcoholic beverages.
Kennedy said attendees should bring cash for the food trucks. Tickets are $5 at the gate and beer and wine tickets will be sold for $5/drink. Beers will all be from North Carolina breweries.
A portion of the sales from the event will be donated to the Belle Raisers. There will also be a raffle for a guitar, donated by the Guitar Center.
The Brewer’s Kettle is located at 308 East Mountain St. For more information, call 336-992-3333, visit their website at or find them on Facebook at: The Brewer’s Kettle Kernersville.

Heart Health

September 24, 2015

runKernersville resident Bill Haps has undergone a drastic change over the past year resulting in a healthier lifestyle, thanks in no small part to a series of heart attacks he suffered last October.
Last week, Haps was recognized at the Bank of Oak Ridge as one of three winners of the American Heart Association’s Guilford Heart Ball Healthy Heart Challenge. The other two winners were Diana Lewis of High Point and Lee Schloss of Colfax.
Haps thought he was living a relatively healthy lifestyle. Even though he had been diagnosed with high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure, along with borderline type II diabetes, Haps managed his condition with medication. He was physically active, practiced good nutrition and balanced stress well.
An avid outdoorsman and active Scoutmaster for a local troop in Kernersville, Haps camped, hiked, backpacked, mountain biked and participated in other outdoor activities with his Scouts. He also participated in the same activities with his family and friends. He never considered that he was ever at risk for heart disease.
That all changed October 11, 2014 when Haps began experiencing shortness of breath on what should have been a simple walk from his house to his parents to wish his father a happy 75th birthday.
“On the walk up, I was a bit short of breath. It was a cold, damp night, so I thought I was just getting a cold or something insignificant,” Haps said.
Throughout the rest of the night, Haps said he woke up short of breath and feeling anxious with his blood pressure elevated. He told himself that he would go to an urgent care the next morning after church. What he didn’t know was that he was actually suffering from several small heart attacks.
In church waiting for mass to start, Haps said he had a “big” heart attack. Even then, he didn’t realize what it was. At Kernersville Medical Center, he was admitted to the ER and given aspirin and glycerin.
Things appeared to improve and Haps’ wife, Anne, sent the couple’s three children, ages 19, 17 and 14, home.
“The fifth and final heart attack came when I was in the ER,” Haps recalled.
He was rushed in an ambulance to Forsyth Medical Center.
In his essay to the Healthy Heart Challenge, Haps said for the first time in his life, he felt alone and truly scared.
“I was faced with my mortality which is a profoundly lonely experience. At that moment, in the ambulance, I let God know I can’t do this on my own,” Haps wrote.
Haps said he put it all in God’s hands and credits the peace and inner strength he received from that with his eventual recovery.
At Forsyth’s cardiac center, Haps was found to have blockages of 80 percent or worse in all four major arteries feeding his heart muscles. He was immediately scheduled for a quadruple bypass surgery the next morning.
The surgery went better than expected. Surgeons only had to do a triple bypass because they were able to open one artery with a catheter. The work of recovery started right there in the hospital, Haps said.
“I was told I had to do 10 laps around the cardiac wing before they would let me go home. By Thursday, I had completed 25 laps. At home, Haps walked in his neighborhood with the help of a walker. In December, he began a cardiac rehabilitation therapy at Forsyth.
The therapists there asked Haps what his goal was. Haps responded, “I want to run.”
That’s exactly what he was doing by February.
The success Haps had there spread out. He joined a beginner’s running class through the wellness program at his work.
“I haven’t run for exercise in over 20 years,” Haps said in his essay.
Last June, Haps ran his first 5K run, a culmination of the running class. He also signed up for a 5K mud run with his Scout Troop and works out two to three days a week at a local gym.
Haps’ family came on board, as well. They’ve all committed to living healthier lifestyles themselves, which includes cutting out processed foods like their father and motivating him to work out. Anne even attended Haps’ cardiac rehab therapy classes and learned just as much as her husband about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The lifestyle choices Haps is now making have made a difference. He has lost about 40 pounds and feels better overall.
“I noticed the changes right away. I have more energy – a lot more energy – and am getting better sleep. I am also a lot more aware of what’s going on with my body,” Haps said.
Haps’ transformation has been so impressive that he has begun to inspire others. His coworkers started asking questions when he would leave for lunch then return soaking wet. They’ve even started their own running teams, Haps said.
Ron Black, president and CEO of Bank of Oak Ridge, said the bank was proud to recognize Haps and his fellow 2015 Healthy Heart Challenge award winners.
“We are proud to recognize these three individuals who have made major changes in their lifestyles to prevent heart disease. Their stories are truly inspirational,” Black said.
The Healthy Heart Challenge was designed to recognize local men and women in the Triad who have made lifestyle changes to prevent heart disease and stroke. Heart disease is the No.1 killer of both men and women in the U.S., and stroke is a leading cause of death and permanent disability. However, 80 percent of heart disease and stroke incidents are preventable through heart-healthy lifestyle changes.
For more information on heart disease and stroke prevention, visit To become involved with the American Heart Association’s Guilford Heart Ball, visit or email

Community Mourns

September 24, 2015

mournThe Kernersville and East Forsyth High School communities were reeling Monday from separate tragedies involving two former students, Riley LaRue and Bobby Furmage, both of whom had been standout athletes at the local high school during their times there.
LaRue, 19, a 2014 graduate and the son of Wake Forest University basketball legend Rusty LaRue, died Saturday in a car accident in Richmond, Va. Throughout the weekend, former classmates, friends and family posted their shock, sadness and condolences through social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.
On Sunday, several of LaRue’s teammates and East Forsyth staff met men’s basketball coach Mike Muse at the school’s gym to talk about the loss and remember their friend. WFMY News 2 was there to film the gathering, which included a moment of silence in honor of LaRue. A makeshift memorial was set up nearby.
Coach Muse had to fight back tears as he talked to the area television station about LaRue and what he meant to the school family at East.
“He’s going to be one who is deeply missed in my life and in this community of East Forsyth basketball,” Muse said Sunday.
The tears and hugs flowed freely as Muse admitted how hard they were all struggling with the loss.
“Father, right now we’re struggling, each one in a different way. Father, we know there’s no sorrow on this earth that you can’t heal in Heaven,” Muse said with closed eyes as he led a group circle in prayer.
“On and off the court, that was my best friend and, you know, I’m going to miss him, and I just want him to know I love him,” said Avery Wood, a teammate of LaRue’s who drove 90 minutes from Boone to be at the impromptu memorial.
Muse was still shaken on Monday, his voice hesitant but sure as he talked about his former player.
“Riley was a coach’s dream. He was awesome in the classroom and always did well. He was a leader among leaders and the ultimate teammate. He made everyone around him better and was always positive and always looking to help someone else,” Muse said.
Muse said LaRue also supported the other sports programs at East, always in the student section of the stands for Friday night football and at soccer games cheering his fellow students on.
“In this profession, you want to impact kids, but Riley was the kid who impacts you. He was one of those special kids who leaves a mark on your heart,” Muse said.
Muse said it was a rough weekend for all those who knew and cared about LaRue. Although LaRue graduated in 2014, there were still several players on the men’s basketball team who played with LaRue. He’d also been in touch with members of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 teams.
“We’re consoling each other. That’s how we will get through this. We’re all family, and for them it’s like losing a brother. For me, it’s losing a son,” Muse said.
Muse said he will retire LaRue’s number 32 and locker for the remainder of this year’s basketball season.
A memorial service celebrating LaRue’s life will be held Wednesday evening, September 23 beginning at 7 p.m. in the East Forsyth High School gymnasium, located at 2500 West Mountain St. The family will hold a private graveside service at a different time, Muse said.
LaRue is survived by his parents, Rusty and Tammy LaRue; two brothers, Cooper and Maverick, and a sister, Clara; paternal grandparents Bob and Linda LaRue; and maternal grandparents, Ronnie and Cindy Watson.
The family asks that memorials in LaRue’s honor be made to Special Olympics of Forsyth County or to the East Forsyth Booster Club. Pierce-Jefferson Funeral Service is in charge of arrangements.
In an unrelated but equally devastating incident, Robert “Bobby” Giles Furmage, IV, 28, passed away while on an extended hiking trip on Saturday from an apparent heart attack. The cause of death has not been officially confirmed.
Both LaRue’s and Furmage’s deaths were especially difficult for the Main Street United Methodist Church (UMC) congregation, where the two had strong family ties.
“We had planned to start a five-part sermon on Sunday on human emotion,” stated Main Street UMC Pastor Claude Kaylor. “We had planned on the first part to be about joy. But I heard about Riley on Saturday, and on Sunday before church, we heard about Bobby. We explained what had happened and we changed the sermon to be about grief, what it means to grieve and how to help people who are grieving. A lot of people were appreciative that we were flexible. We thought it was the right thing to do because a lot of people were directly or indirectly affected.”
Kaylor knew Furmage mostly through association with his parents, Robert and Susan Furmage, although Bobby was still a registered member of the church. Susan has been the business manager at the church for several years. Kaylor has heard many stories about the kind of person Bobby was.
“Everyone said he had a big heart. I have heard those words many times during the past two days. One story that I can relate I heard from his mother. Bobby had a friend who was in a band, and someone broke into his apartment and stole all the band equipment,” Kaylor said. “Bobby organized some people together and they bought the band new equipment. That is the kind of person he was, and some, or at least one of the band members, will perform a song at his funeral.”
The passing of Furmage was also disconcerting to former East students and current teachers and coaches. Eagle head football coach Todd Willert had the privilege of coaching Furmage and will miss him.
“He was one of our team leaders and he played tackle for us. He played everywhere on the offensive line. He was a great kid. I saw him at church recently,” Willert said. “He looked good and he had lost a lot of weight. It is a tough time losing him and LaRue. It puts things in perspective as a coach and for everybody at East Forsyth.”
Furmage was a 2005 graduate of East Forsyth and a standout offensive lineman who received a football scholarship to Western Carolina University (WCU). He graduated from WCU in 2009 with a degree in biology. He started studying anthropology at N.C. State University in 2010, according to his Facebook page. Furmage’s parents said Bobby enjoyed theater and music, was one course away from graduating with his second degree and had plans to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant. He was currently working as a dispatcher, they said.
In addition to his parents, Furmage is survived by sisters Audrey Wells, Becca Bell and Hannah Meyer. Kaylor stated that according to Bobby’s mother, one of his favorite things was being an uncle.
“His mom told me he said he had been called a lot of things, but his favorite was Uncle Bobby,” Kaylor said.
A funeral service for Furmage will be held Friday, Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. at Main Street UMC, subject to any changes.

A Stint in Spain

September 24, 2015

spainKelsey Dickerson, a 2013 graduate of East Forsyth High School and a junior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC), spent three months in Spain through the UNC Study Abroad Program this past summer.
Dickerson said she decided to go on the study abroad because she loves traveling and wanted to experience a new culture. She noted that she has taken Spanish since she was in high school and added that students who went on the trip were required to have four levels of college Spanish.
“I chose Spain because I am minoring in Spanish and this unique program allowed me to complete my minor, while living in a Spanish-speaking country,” she said. “I stayed with a host family. My host mom was a child psychologist, and she had a 19-year old daughter, who was also in college.”
Dickerson said her host family was extremely friendly, but did not know English, which was helpful to her learning the language.
“I was forced to improve my comprehension and speaking skills,” she remarked.
Like everyone living in the city, Dickerson said the family lived in an apartment.
“We ate lunch together every day while watching the news. In Seville, there are many barrios (neighborhoods/areas) and I lived in Nervión, which is where the huge department store El Corte Inglés and the mall are located,” she explained. “The main thing I liked about Seville was that it is a big city (fourth largest in Spain), but it still has a small town feel compared to Madrid and Barcelona.”
Having traveled over 3,000 miles from N.C. to a foreign country, Dickerson naturally felt some cultural shock.
“The hardest thing to adapt to was the meal times. We would make our own breakfast (toast and coffee) before class. We would not eat lunch until 3 p.m., and dinner was around 10 p.m.,” she shared. “It was very unusual for anyone to eat dinner before 9 p.m.”
Even though she has many years of studying the Spanish language and culture under her belt, Dickerson still had a lot to learn, which she experienced while living in Spain.
“I learned a lot of the language that I was unfamiliar with, like common Spanish expressions and words/phrases that are different between Spain and Latin America. We also toured local businesses to learn about the business world in Spain,” she said, noting that she attended EUSA, which she said is part of the University of Seville. “It was very different because there was not a huge library and it was all in one building. There were also no dorms because it is customary for Spaniards to live at home during college.”
Dickerson also noted differences with restaurants in Spain compared to the U.S.
“In restaurants you do not tip, so the waiters are not there to wait on you hand and foot as in the U.S.,” she said. “I would occasionally struggle to communicate with people, not knowing the specific vocabulary, but I was always able to get the answers I needed with the words I did know.”
Although she was in Spain to study, Dickerson took advantage of her free time to travel throughout the country and throughout Europe, spending most of her time with her roommate and other students in the program.
“In Spain, I visited Granada, Cordoba, Valencia, Pamplona, Madrid and Barcelona. In Pamplona, we watched the running of the bulls from a balcony, which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she shared. “In Europe, I traveled to Lagos (Portugal), Amsterdam, Prague, Paris and London. Most of the time we traveled by plane, but we went to Lagos by bus and Madrid and Pamplona by train.”
Dickerson said there is a stereotype for Americans, but she didn’t fit that stereotype.
“Americans carry the stereotype of being loud and obnoxious, but as long as you didn’t live up to the stereotype, the locals were pretty welcoming,” she said.
She shared some of the similarities and differences between Spain and the U.S. that she saw while studying abroad in Spain.
“They have different accents just like in the U.S. In southern Spain, they tend to cut off words, which is similar to the South here,” she said.
One of the main differences that she shared was what she called, “Spanish Time.”
“Everyone is late to everything,” she said, as she again talked about the difference in the times people eat and mentioned siestas. “Most stores and restaurants close between 3-5 p.m. for siesta because it is so hot in southern Spain.”
Even though it is so hot, Dickerson said in Spain, they conserve energy and rarely use air conditioning.
“Our host mom would only turn the air on if it was around 100 degrees outside,” she said. “The summer weather in Seville is hot and dry. It only rained once and there was no humidity, so it was very hot, around 90 most of May and around 100 degrees most of June and July. It had been in the 100s for weeks and there was finally a day when the high was 90 degrees and we were all so excited saying, ‘Maybe I’ll wear jeans or a sweater.’”
Dickerson said her trip was amazing.
“I enjoyed traveling the most because it was amazing to see all of the history and visit places I have dreamed of visiting my whole life,” she said. “I also really enjoyed talking with my host mom and her daughter because they would explain things to me that I didn’t understand while we watched the news, and they would always want to know how to say certain things in English.”
Dickerson, who is majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Spanish for the business profession, said she feels her study abroad experience will be helpful to her in the future.
“This experience taught me how to adapt to new situations and deal with change. It further taught me to be accepting of and embrace cultural differences,” she said. “This will help me in the future as I choose a career path and face obstacles that may put me out of my comfort zone.”

Future Success

August 25, 2015

cheerThe next time fans of the East Forsyth Eagles are sweating out a close game, they can thank Marlee Young for helping cooler heads prevail. Young, a rising senior at East Forsyth, with assistance from art coordinator Brittany Myrick, has designed a special “spirit towel” for use by the fans and cheerleaders of the Eagles. Based on the new evaporative cooling towels used by pro athletes such as Serena Williams and Dewayne Wade, Young’s new “spirit towels” come in two separate styles, proudly bear the school colors, and will be helping to raise spirits even as they are dropping temperatures starting this fall.
Young’s is just one of the many success stories coming out of East Forsyth High School these days. The school is preparing many of our young people for the business world of tomorrow through its lauded Finance Academy, a member of the National Academy Foundation (NAF). In fact, the East Forsyth High School Finance Academy has been recognized with the NAF’s highest honor, the designation of “Model Academy,” awarded to less than 20 percent of all participating academies nationwide. In order to achieve this designation, an academy undergoes a rigorous annual assessment designed to help an academy “gauge their progress and increase their alignment to NAF’s standards.” Only the highest scoring academies are designated as Model. This is the second time in three years that East Forsyth High School’s Finance Academy has received this honor.
According to Jennifer Haymes Schurman, the finance coordinator at East Forsyth High School, the school started the Finance Academy in 2005 with 15 students enrolled in the first class. Today, the school boasts an astounding 180 future business leaders enrolled between 10th and 12th grades. Students begin the process as incoming freshmen, having to apply to even be accepted into the Finance Academy. Successful applicants are then required to take courses such as Principles of Accounting and Applied Finance in addition to their regular course load.
“Any student who is interested in joining the academy has to apply at the end of their freshman year, just like they would for a real job out in the world, and they have to commit a full three years to the academy, in addition to completing at least 100 internship hours with a local business by their senior year.”
Jennifer went on to say, “Students have to fill out a job application, develop a resume, and sit through an interview in order to be considered.”
The East Forsyth High School Finance Academy is about much more than just a few extra classes. In addition to the extra course load, the entire academy is structured like its own Fortune 500 company, complete with an executive board. Positions ranging from chief executive officer and executive vice president all the way down through director of academy affairs are applied for and filled by academy students. Officers of the academy are expected to not only run the day-to-day affairs of the academy, but are also required to meet regularly with the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce.
As if the special courses, curriculum, and interactions geared towards academy students were not enough, possibly the greatest benefit of all is the internship program. Each and every student in the Finance Academy is required to work at least 100 hours for participating local businesses, but don’t get the wrong idea, these internships are not just handed out. These are paid positions, and the students of the academy are required to go through the same kind of hiring process that any other job applicant would be expected to. The 100 hour requirement, while at first glance is seemingly excessive, is in fact the heart of the program. It is designed to give academy students a real, valuable business experience. The hours need to be completed within a year’s time, but employers are more than fair when it comes to how the student reaches his or her goal, whether it be four weeks in the summer, four hours a night during school, or even one hour a day.
One of the most popular internships is with Truliant Federal Credit Union, which has been working closely with the Finance Academy from the very beginning. Students can apply to positions not only with the regular branch, but also with the on-campus East Forsyth High School Campus Credit Union, powered by Truliant. These positions give academy students a real hands-on business experience and a great feel for the day-to-day world of high finance.
Internships can take numerous forms; however, students who wish to pursue other avenues during their work experience can apply to positions with the Winston Salem/Forsyth County School system, the aforementioned Truliant Federal Credit Union, Austin-Ross Financial Inc., and many others.
Young did her internship with Pura Vida Promotions Inc., a local full service advertising specialty company. It was while working with Pura Vida that Young came up with the idea for and designed the specially branded towel that will be marketed to East Forsyth Eagles fans this coming fall.
When asked what valuable lesson she has learned from the Finance Academy, Young commented, “I have learned how to write a check and balance my checking account, and there are many people my age that don’t even know how to do these things.”

Garden of Love and Faith

August 25, 2015

gardenPraise Assembly Church Ministries (PACM) helps those in need by providing fresh fruits and vegetables from their community garden, Garden of Love and Faith.
Although PACM was founded 24 years ago, shortly after they moved to their current location along Kernersville Road, they decided to plant a community garden to help those in need in the area.
The garden, which is roughly 1/3 acre, is host to a large array of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Produce include beans, squash, okra, corn, tomatoes, Swiss chard, pumpkins, watermelon, beets, cabbage, collards, sweet potatoes, sunflowers, and more.
“We have a little bit of everything,” said Clement Little, PACM community garden committee member.
“We also have flowers in the garden to try to get the birds and bees to pollinate,” added Allen Keesee, master gardener, garden mentor and PACM community garden committee member, who noted that there are eight people on the garden committee.
Keesee explained that they started the garden three years ago.
“Last year, we had about 700 pounds of food. That was our total produce,” he said as he explained that when they pick the produce, they weigh it separately. “This year it has been harder for everyone because of the dry weather.”
Little explained that they started the garden to help people in the community.
“We started it because we knew it was needed for the church and for the community,” he said, noting that they offer both food and clothing in their campus food pantry.
Keesee said the church has a lot of young children and young adults who come out to help in the garden.
“This teaches them where their food comes from and the benefits of vegetables,” Keesee said. “We both (Keesee and Little) grew up on a farm, so we know the importance of vegetables and fruits and wanted to share that with others.”
“More people are taking part in helping in the garden,” added Little.
Keesee said while there have been many blessings from the garden, there have been a few challenges.
“Last year, we didn’t get any corn, and it’s a challenge to keep the deer out,” he said, as he pointed to the twine fence surrounding the large garden.
“We also have a problem with rabbits,” added Little. “They’re the type that you walk up to and they won’t run.”
Dr. Johnny York, pastor for PACM, said the Garden of Love and Faith has been a great thing for the church.
“It helps to further fulfill the outreach,” he said. “We not only provide the spiritual aspects of man, but the nutritional aspects as well.”
York added that they even have food pantry clients who enjoy giving back to the church.
“Sometimes the food pantry clients, on days the food pantry is open, will assist with harvesting,” he said.
He added that it’s not only the church’s obligation to share the Gospel, but also teach about living a healthy life.
“The long range impact is to maintain good health and lessen the incident of chronic illness,” he said. “The church has a responsibility to do that as well.”
York said the food pantry is open on the third Saturday of every month at the church and is available to those who qualify for assistance.
In July, the clothing ministry served 69 people, while the food pantry served 544 people.
PACM offers other ministries including a summer reading club for children ages 7-11; Women of Grace Ministry and Brotherhood Ministry; as well as ministries for both youth and younger children.
Little and Keesee said they enjoy being on the garden committee because of the camaraderie and giving back.
“I enjoy the fellowship among the guys and giving back to the community,” said Keesee.
For more information about the food pantry or PACM, visit

August 25, 2015

romaniaDuring a recent mission trip to Romania, youth from First Baptist Church spread the Gospel to Romani children and developed a deeper faith.
Ward Page, youth minister at First Baptist Church, said the mission team went to Romania to assist the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) with Ralph and Tammy Stocks from July 11-19. He noted that the youth were one of the first mission teams to connect with the CBF in that region.
“We wanted to get a foot in there to develop a long-term relationship with the pastors there,” he said.
While there, Page said they worked with the Romani people, often referred to as “gypsies.” The term is now considered derogatory. He noted that the Romani people migrated to Europe from India and Pakistan.
During the first two days, the mission team worked at the Ruth School in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, where they were asked to plan and direct a VBS (Vacation Bible School) type of ministry for the Romani children, which they called Kids Club. The school serves to educate children through the eighth grade and is funded solely on donations.
“After that, we traveled to a nearby town called, Br?ila. For the next three days, we visited eight villages for two hours at a time,” he said, noting that they conducted the same VBS ministry in the villages.
During the VBS, Page would teach a simplified version of Daniel, Chapter 3 so it was easy for the translators to relay and easy for the children to understand, which was then dramatized by the mission team.
After the teaching, the children were split up into groups for crafts and recreation. Then, they would participate in music and Bible study.
“We teach them that God is always going to be with them no matter what, and I think that is a much more positive message for them, rather than us telling these children who are very poor, don’t have any real possessions, and are considered to be undesirable and unwanted in their culture that God is going to bless them and take care of all their problems because that’s not what they know and that’s not real to them,” he said.
Along with leading a VBS, the mission team painted some of the classrooms at the Ruth School, sanded some of the chairs, removed some splintered areas on the chairs and removed graffiti.
What Page said impacted him the most was how hungry the children were for attention.
“They don’t usually get that because they lead a very tough life,” he said. “There was one teenager we met named, Emanuel. He asked when we were going to meet again, but I had to be honest with him that this was probably the only time we would see each other since we try to visit other villages. He said that even if we don’t see each other again, at least we will meet again in our next life in Heaven. From that point on, I changed the way I ended each day. That was very uplifting to all of us.”
Page said there were several challenges to the trip, including the language barrier when they only had two translators who were often pulled in many different directions.
“Sometimes, the challenges were responding to what we saw. Sometimes, we would see children who didn’t seem like they had had a bath in weeks; they had no shoes and cuts on their feet and legs,” he said. “The children lived in close proximity to farm animals that were very dirty sometimes. It could be a challenge to establish a connection with children because they were fearful of us too.”
Ward said one of the things he enjoyed most about the trip was seeing his students rise to every challenge and seeing the changes in them after the trip.
“That is really why I do what I do,” he said. “My students will probably refer back to this trip for the rest of their lives. I think a few of them are considering missions or ministry as a vocation, and I think this will change how they see the world and themselves for the rest of their lives.”
Several of the teens shared what they learned and enjoyed during the trip.
Chelsea Clemons said she enjoyed working with the Romani children, while spreading the word of God and growing closer to her church family.
“I feel like I became more aware of the world’s problems, especially poverty,” she said. “I realized that in America’s society, we struggle to give God any of our time, while (Romani) children were so excited to listen and learn about Him for hours at a time. Seeing their excitement made me realize that I need to be that excited about God all the time.”
Clemons shared one of her favorite memories from the trip.
“I made a bracelet for this little boy because he asked for one, and I was really impacted by his smile when I gave it to him,” she remarked. “I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such graciousness. It reminded me to be thankful for the things I have.”
Connor Sparrow enjoyed ministering to children who had never heard about Christianity.
“Being the ones that introduced them to the Gospel was very impactful,” he said. “I also enjoyed getting to spend a week with the people on our team. Experiencing this amazing trip with my friends made it that much more special.”
Sparrow shared that he learned to be thankful for what he has.
“No matter how little you think you have, it is most likely a lot more than these people in Romania. I also learned that just giving these kids attention made all the difference in their lives and created a lasting image they will cherish forever,” he said. “The whole experience made me realize how blessed we all are to live a privileged life here in America.”
One of Sparrow’s favorite memories from the trip was on his last day.
“We were teaching children in someone’s backyard and we passed out crayons to them, so they could color the craft we gave them. However, a few minutes went by and we noticed that some of the kids weren’t doing anything with the crayons. I then realized they didn’t know how to use crayons because they had never seen one before,” he explained. “This really hit me hard because we take something as simple as knowing how to color for granted, but they didn’t even know how to do that. The kids were overjoyed at their new knowledge of coloring and to find out that we were letting them keep the crayons. It was great to be able to make a direct impact in these people’s lives.”
For more information about the Ruth School, visit For more information about First Baptist Church, visit

Project Semicolon

August 25, 2015

cheyenneAfter struggling with depression for more than 15 years, Cheyenne May said she decided to take her life into her own hands in a positive way and raise awareness to help others and herself through the use of Project Semicolon.
According to their website, Project Semicolon is a faith-based, non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury. It exists to encourage, love and inspire.
May explained that she first heard about Project Semicolon when she was browsing through Pinterest, an application that shares photos and websites.
Amy Bleuel started it two years ago, May said.
“The idea behind it is that the (tattoo) can help start a conversation about suicide, mental illness and addiction,” May explained. “One reason I liked it is because it is faith based.”
May explained that Bleuel came up with the idea for Project Semicolon because she dealt with depression herself.
“She said she came up with it because her dad committed suicide when she was 18 and she suffered with depression too,” she said. “She said she struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for 20 years, which I could relate to.”
May explained that Bleuel used the semicolon because it represents both a stopping point and a continuation.
“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life,” May said as she read a pin from Project Semicolon that she found on Pinterest.
May said she feels that the semicolon body art allows her to be more open about her depression.
“You don’t want to tell anyone you have depression because you don’t want them to think you are crazy or have pity on you,” she said. “Depression runs in my family, and I wanted to be that one child that got out unscathed.”
May explained that while she dealt with depression for more than 15 years, it was around that time that she realized she was suffering from the dark unrelenting disorder.
“I was bullied in school and at home it was no better; my parents fought all the time, my dad was in and out of jail, and I was molested when I was little,” she said. “I go to a psychologist once a month. The psychologist found that I had repressed those memories.”
After dealing with these challenges for years, May said she started having suicidal thoughts around the age of 15.
Though she said this will likely be a lifelong struggle, May said she didn’t start fighting back until last year.
“I know this sounds crazy, but I was doing laundry when I heard a voice clear as day that said, ‘You are going to die by your own hand,’” she said. “That was when I chose to seek help. Tiffany Gibson at Kernersville Family Practice referred me to Psychiatrist Dr. Shaji Puthuvel.”
As to why she dealt with the burden on her own for so long, May said she didn’t want to “burden anyone else.”
“I think the reason I didn’t seek help was because I didn’t want to put the burden on my family, and I don’t think I truly wanted to admit I was depressed,” she shared.
May shared that she was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depressive disorder and type II bipolar disorder.
“I still have manic episodes. It’s not something I can control. I’m on medication, but it only does so much,” she said. “It’s a daily struggle and a lifelong battle.”
May explained that before she was prescribed medication, her suicidal thoughts raced all day long, but since seeking help, she only has about one a day.
“It’s gotten better,” she remarked.
While some semicolon body art is just a semicolon standing alone, others chose to include it in art or with a quote, as May did. Her quote reads, “You are never too lost to be saved.”
“I wanted to get the semicolon tattoo because I wanted to raise awareness and create an open dialogue about mental illness because it’s not something people talk about; there’s a stigma attached to it,” she said. “When you tell someone you are depressed, they think, ‘What do you have to be depressed about? You have a great family and a great life,’ but they don’t know about your past or what is going on in your head. Even my husband still has trouble understanding what I am going through.”
May shared that the body art is also a reminder to herself to try to be positive.
For more information about Project Semicolon, visit
Editor’s Note: Project Semicolon is not a help line nor do they employ trained mental health professionals. Their purpose is solely to serve as an inspiration.
If you are in need of assistance or know someone that may be at risk for suicide, call (911), a mental health professional or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).

What’s your rate?

August 5, 2015

water-rateAs a group of residents question why they must pay such high water and sewer bills, Kernersville Community Development Director Jeff Hatling is putting the final touches on a year-long study of that very issue.
Hatling will present the results of the study and an overall master plan for future water and sewer expansion for Kernersville to the Board of Aldermen in September. There’s little doubt there will be plenty of people paying attention given the amount of interest in the subject generated recently.
In the course of asking why Kernersville sewer users pay more than double what Winston-Salem residents pay for their sewer usage, residents such as Brock Williams, Terry Templeton and Cindy Hardison have accumulated numerous documents dating back to a 1996 agreement in which the Town transferred its water and sewer system to the City County Utility Commission (CCUC). At the time, it was agreed that sewer users in Kernersville would pay a higher rate in order to compensate the CCUC for the transfer, but over time, the rate would decrease until reaching a 1.2 rate above the CCUC’s base rate.
In 2002, the Town asked that the CCUC freeze the sewer rate at its then current rate of 2.487 times the base rate, with the CCUC taking in the agreed upon 1.2 rate and Kernersville receiving the remainder each year in what Town officials call the Rate Differential Fund. Since then, anything collected by the CCUC above its 1.2 rate for sewer goes into that fund for the Town to use on utilities expansion.
According to CCUC officials, the account has accumulated as much as $20 million since it was first created and today holds a little over $13 million. In fiscal year 2015, the CCUC will deposit around $2 million into the account. The money isn’t part of the Town’s General Fund and cannot be used for anything other than water and sewer projects.
After reading two articles on the issue in the Tuesday News July 7 and July 14 editions, Town Manager Curtis Swisher said most of the information presented has been accurate, but said some was not. He began by going back to the original interlocal agreement that was first conceived in 1995 and formalized in 1996.
According to Swisher, the agreement stated that while the CCUC was taking over the Kernersville water and sewer system, the Town would be responsible for any expansion of the system beyond its current area at the time.
“At the time of the agreement in 1995, the rate multiplier for water was 1.2 times higher than the city rate for Winston-Salem and the rate multiplier for sewer was 3.439,” explained Swisher.
Swisher said the rate multiplier for water has remained consistent since 1996, never going above 1.2 and the sewer rate did decrease from the 3.439 multiplier and would have continued to decrease until it, too, reached a multiplier of 1.2 in fiscal year 2004-05. In January 2003, the Board froze the rate at 2.487, with the funds generated to be used for covering the cost associated with future expansion of the utility system.
Since then, those funds have been used to make annual payments toward $8 million the Town borrowed to expand utilities to the Abbotts Creek sewer basin, of which $5 million is still owed. The Abbotts Creek area includes what would have been the Caleb’s Creek development, the Carrollton mixed-use development that has since been renamed Welden, Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School, Cone Health MedCenter Kernersville, Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center and, more recently, the VA Kernersville Health Care Clinic.
Swisher and Hatling both agreed that when the Rate Differential Fund was created 19 years ago, Town leaders looked at it as a way to autonomously fund water and sewer expansion without having to borrow the money to do so and as a way to control the Town’s own destiny without being at the mercy of outside forces.
“If you can control your sewer, you can control your growth,” said Hatling.
When the state legislator did away with forced annexation, being able to offer water and sewer to areas municipalities hope to annex became an important tool for towns like Kernersville, said Hatling.
“It is the only tool a community has to attract voluntary annexation and Kernersville has been able to annex over 2,000 acres because of it,” Hatling continued.
Added Swisher, “It’s not cheap to do sewer projects, and it is important to have a revenue source that allows the Town to have growth in the future without having to roll over to city/county utilities.”
The relationship between the CCUC and the Town hasn’t been all smooth sailing. When Kernersville wanted to extend water and sewer to Triad Business Park, the CCUC responded that it didn’t have the capacity to conduct the project, but when Kernersville asked to use $650,000 to pay High Point to extend its lines to the site, the CCUC balked again, Swisher said.
That’s when the CCUC suggested a new agreement might be in order.
“We began negotiating a new agreement with CCUC in mid-2011 in order to address some changes to the original agreement,” Swisher explained. “In December 2011, the Board of Aldermen adopted an amendment to the 1996 interlocal agreement that stated the Town wanted to use $650,000 from the Rate Differential Fund to pay High Point. It also stated that the Town wanted to have a new agreement in place by June 30, 2012.”
Swisher said if a new agreement was not reached by June 30, 2012, the CCUC would distribute the funds in the Rate Differential Fund to the Town and lower the sewer rate to the 1.2 multiplier as originally agreed upon in 1996.
“We continued working on the agreement but realized one wouldn’t be reached by the deadline. At the June 2012 Board meeting, the aldermen granted a 180-day extension for negotiations to continue,” Swisher said.
It is at the end of this 180-day extension that Williams, Templeton and Hardison question, with Williams unable to find any documentation that a new agreement was reached. He contends that if no new agreement was put in place, then the Town’s sewer rate should have reverted to the 1.2 rate in January 2013.
However, Swisher said negotiations have never stopped and have been ongoing for the last two-and-a-half years. One of the areas where the Town and CCUC have failed to find middle ground is the CCUC’s contention that Kernersville would be responsible for approximately $20 to $30 million in upgrades to multiple treatment plants and pump stations under any new deal.
That’s where Kernersville and its Town officials balked.
“We briefed the Board of Aldermen on this and it was agreed that Kernersville was not responsible for this and we should continue negotiations,” Swisher said.

Those negotiations are still underway.
“Beginning in 2013, the CCUC started revising the future costs that it believes Kernersville will be responsible for and then in 2014, the Town commissioned a study to determine the future liabilities of the Town in regards to water and sewer,” Swisher said.
Those continuing negotiations are the reason the amended interlocal agreement adopted in December 2011 was never enacted, he continued, “causing the rate to remain at 2.487 and the Rate Differential Fund to remain open.”
Hatling and Swisher said it isn’t unusual for them to hear from citizens who have been told by the CCUC that their water and sewer bills keep increasing because of the rate multiplier Kernersville charges, but Swisher said that’s just not true.
“Increases have occurred because CCUC has raised the rates every year since 2000. Kernersville has not changed the rate multiplier since 1996 for water and since 2003 for sewer. Water is still 1.2 times the inside rate of Winston-Salem and sewer is 2.487 times the inside rate of Winston-Salem,” Swisher said.
Swisher said a Kernersville resident who used 1340 cubic feet of water in 2008 paid about $93.82. For the same amount of usage in 2015, their bill would be $165.08, almost double what they paid seven years ago.
“This increase is from the increase in rates put into effect by CCUC and has nothing to do with the rate multiplier Kernersville uses,” said Swisher.
The question becomes how much is enough when it comes to accumulating money in the Town’s Rate Differential Fund to pay for future utilities expansion. That’s what Hatling hopes the new study will shed some light on when it is presented in September.
Some of the subjects the study tackled included where the Town hopes to expand in the future, how much it will cost and if and when the sewer rate multiplier can be lowered as the Town reaches build out.
“Decisions have to be made on what liabilities exist as far as how much it will cost to continue to expand the system, paying off the loan and demolition of all our old water treatment facilities. We still don’t have sewer in areas to the north, east and south,” said Hatling. “We also have to look at what our revenues are going to be. We hope the multiplier will be able to come down.”
Swisher said estimates place the Town’s sewer liabilities, including growth outside its current area, at more than $25 million. If the Rate Differential Fund is eliminated altogether and the sewer rate dropped to 1.2, the cost of the projects would then be paid for using tax dollars.
That would mean a substantial tax increase.
“To pay for $25 million in projects using tax revenues, a tax increase of 12 cents or more would be required using today’s tax rate,” Swisher said. He hopes the upcoming study will shed more light on just how much a reduction in the rate the Town might be able to accomplish, but noted that any rate changes would have to be agreed to by the CCUC.
Kernersville Mayor Dawn Morgan is one Town official who supports eliminating the rate multiplier.
“I’m not sure there should be a multiplier given what is going on with water and sewer rates,” said Morgan.
Morgan also noted that as money has been taken from the Rate Differential Fund to fund expansion, those projects have also brought in revenues.

“The fund has gotten replenished through growth,” said Morgan. “Major companies have located here because we have a plan with our sewer system. It has allowed for great things. At the same time, the fund is growing at too fast a rate. I know the Town has been working on this study and it should go before the Board in August or September, but I would like to see the sewer rate reduced dramatically.”