Beyond the Classroom: Student Groups at the Academy

Similar to the students on the campus at Appalachian State University, the mini-Mountaineers at the Academy at Middle Fork have opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities. Three of these opportunities are H.E.R.way, Student Council, and Dance Club.

H.E.R.way (Having Extreme Radiance)

HERway hear from guest speakerStudents in H.E.R.way hosted Miss NC Royal Teen 16 year old Jazmin Gibbs who is a Junior in high school/early college in Durham, North Carolina. Photo submitted.

Fifth grade teacher Monique Johnson leads the student group H.E.R.way. The “H.E.R.” stands for “Having Extreme Radiance”.

Aligning with the school’s commitment to the development of the whole child, the goal of H.E.R.way is to provide fifth grade girls with unique learning opportunities outside of the classroom that will contribute to greater academic success while developing social and emotional growth.

The program began in 2018 and places an emphasis on character development and positive decision-making, which is then also combined with the four strands of the Academy’s balanced curriculum — Identity, Movement, Our World, and Changes.

“H.E.R.way participates in a ‘sister circle’ styled environment,” said Johnson. 

This means students focus on a variety of aspects of themselves such as identity, confidence, self love, hygiene, etiquette, health care and physical activities, academic/study skills and tutoring, college prep courses, career pathways, athletics, and entrepreneurship building.

“H.E.R.way is my heartbeat,” noted Johnson. “It is a passion of mine that I consider ministry.” 

“In our world and in our current climate it is so important to pour into the next generations knowledge, wisdom, and inspiration for girls to lead — and not only lead BUT IMPACT,” she continued. “To shake the ground, break the norm, and raise new standards for the women that they will become. To amplify and maximize their voices in the world!”

Student Council 

Student council collects cereal boxesLast spring student council collected cereal boxes andcreated a Domino Cereal run. Photo submitted.

Established in 2018, STEM teacher Allison Phelps works with the student council. Students from each grade level are selected via elections.

The purpose of the student council is for students to have a voice and demonstrate leadership at the Academy. This includes participating in fundraisers, community service projects, and school activities. A few examples of past projects are: 

  • Pasta for Pennies, which raised money for local charity. 
  • Canned Food Drives, which collected food for the Second Harvest Food Bank. 
  • Domino Cereal Run, which donated over 300 boxes of cereal to a local organization. 
  • Holiday Craft Markets and candy sales, which raised money for the Academy at Middle Fork to purchase new library books and other school supplies.

“Student council is all about student leadership, voice, and choice,” said Phelps. “Students are held responsible and accountable as they make decisions for the school and their peers. 

“They have an opinion and feel a part of their school community,” she added. “I enjoy seeing them grow and take part in such an important group.”

Dance Club 

Students learning a danceFifth grade teacher Cathy Ryan teaches a dance to the students. Photo submitted.

The newest student group is Dance Club, which is coordinated by fifth grade teacher Cathy Ryan ’11. The club is open to students in third, fourth, or fifth grade.

The purpose of the club is to allow students to learn through music and dance expression and to explore their creativity in the arts.

As part of Dance Club, students learn dance routines, encourage each other in the process, and host a recital at the end of the year. 

“The Dance Club means a great deal to me,” said Ryan. “I enjoy watching the students ‘shine’ at something in the world of the arts, as well as watching the students learn to work together as a team and encourage each other.” 

She added, “It helps to keep my creative abilities alive!”

Middle Fork student groups
Published: Jan 20, 2022 12:01pm