Headland School System Fails Senior Who Has Attended Only Headland SchoolsRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: May 02 2012 11:01 PM
HENRY COUNTY: This past week I was invited to meet Aaron Sanders. After the invitation Matt and I traveled to Headland to meet Aaron, his mother and daddy and brother.
Aaron Sanders is an 18 year old young man who is a senior at Headland High School. He has attended Headland High School for 13 consecutive years. Aaron started in Kindergarten and passed every grade in school.
When you meet young people it is often times easy to identify the good ones. When you meet Aaron Sanders you realize you have met a class act. He is nice and polite and someone that you can tell that has morals, integrity, and goals in life.
Aaron has always worked at the family business, Three Pigs. He is an active member of Bethlehem Baptist Church. He has perfect attendance in school. His mother says Aaron will not miss school.
It has been double digit years since Headland High School has had a winning football team. Aaron is a good punter and this year was the Quarterback for the Headland Rams. With Aaron as quarterback, the entire football team banned together and worked hard. This year not only did Headland have a winning football team, they went to the state playoffs. While Aaron was the quarterback, it was quickly pointed out by him they were a team with goals.
So What Is The Problem?
The State of Alabama Board of Education developed a test called the Alabama Graduation Exam. After several years the State Board of Education has determined the test is a failure. The State Board has ordered the test stopped and replaced after this year. Many articles are published about the state test getting a failing grade.
Aaron Sanders has taken the Alabama State Graduation Exam. He has had issues with the exam. Aaron told his mother that he failed some parts of the exam. When Mrs. Sanders discussed what needed to be done Aaron told his mom that he was in the prep classes.
Mrs. Sanders knows Aaron is a responsible young man. She knows he takes school serious, as does his parents. She was satisfied that he was taking steps to be prepared. But there was something strange, which I will cover in a minute.
Things rock on through the 11th grade and now into the Senior Year.
Headland High School gets a new Guidance Counselor. Headland High School goes to Birmingham and selects a new High School Principal.
Aaron has problems the first go around this year with “some” parts of the Graduation exam. Aaron tells mom he is in the classes preparing him for the exam. Still something strange.
Aaron is a good student. He makes good grades, sometimes a C. His average is 3.2 GPA. He has never failed, he can read and comprehend subjects.
About two weeks ago Aaron comes home upset. This 18 year old young man that has attended Headland Schools all of his life has just learned that he failed the reading portion of the graduation exam. This 18 year old young man breaks down crying over this.
Then more devastating news comes to Aaron. He is told by school officials that he will not be allowed to walk in the Commencement Exercises for Headland High School.
The Principal hired from Birmingham to run Headland High School, who has been on the job for about 9 months, Dr. Kirkimerier is quoted as saying “the diplomas are not handed out at the ceremony, students receive it afterward when they turn their gowns back in to the school”.
The Sanders understand Aaron will not receive a diploma until he completes the section of the “failed” Alabama Graduation Exam. Aaron’s parents already have tutors lined up to work with Aaron and he will take it this summer again. No doubt Aaron will pass.
The rub is, graduation ceremonies are once in a lifetime. The moment can never be re-created. Aaron has gone to Headland Schools all of his life. He has worked hard. He loves the school, the town of Headland and the Headland Rams. And this has devastated him and his parents.
But There Was Something Strange
Remember the statement “there was something strange”?
That something strange is, not one time has this Principal or Guidance Counselor ever contacted the Sanders and said there is a problem. They have only found out from their son.
The Sanders never saw this coming. They thought with his grade point average, his never failing, his participation in the prep classes all was okay.
My Personal Experience
My son graduates this year. He is a Senior at Rehobeth High School. The Guidance Counselor, Mrs. Brookins, has met with me on several occasions about my son. She has managed his studies and credits, and managed his taking of the graduation exam.
Mrs. Brookins at Rehobeth High School, the Guidance Counselor has been interested and made sure John Curtis was prepared for graduation. And in every meeting the Assistant Principal Bobby Boyd has been there. They managed his education and kept me informed.
Henry County Board of Education and School Supt. Lesa Knowles
When the Sanders contacted the Henry County School Board of Education they were told it was the “law” that Aaron could not participate in the graduation exercise. When the Sanders called the Alabama Department of Education they were quickly informed that was not the truth.
When the Henry County Board of Education was contacted back, their story was revised to “it was board policy”.
In a recent conversation with Henry County School Supt. Lesa Knowles I was told it was Board Policy.
The Henry County Board of Education School Supt. Dennis Coe recently resigned and Lesa Knowles was appointed. Knowles said she contacted Coe and asked about the policy. Knowles said Coe told her that 60% of the Alabama School Systems do not allow students to walk in commencement exercises if they do not pass the graduation exam.
When I asked Knowles if Headland School System felt they held any responsibility since this young man had gone only to that school from Kindergarten through Senior. I never got a direct answer.
By the way when this young man was growing up in the school, Lesa Knowles was a Third Grade Teacher at Headland Schools. Is Kindergarten through 3rd and 4th grade where you learn the reading skills?
To be honest I have wrestled with this article. Wrestled with what is the correct decision to make.
When you meet young people, sometimes your impression is positive, sometimes negative and sometimes, well..no distinct impression.
When you meet Aaron Sanders you can only have one impression…this is a class young man. He is going places in life. He has ambition, will and drive. That was obvious in his leadership as quarterback – but quickly pointed out they were a team – to lead Headland Football to a winning season. Aaron is a young man that has always followed the rules, led a good life and a good example.
He is not asking for the school to give him anything that he has not worked to achieve. But Aaron has worked in school, been prompt, perfect attendance, and enjoyed school.
The Headland School system, Lesa Knowles, the Henry County Board of Education, this principal of only 9 months and the new guidance counselor, they need to look in the mirror.
While Aaron took the test, if this young man of his quality has gone 13 years to only this school, apparently the Headland School System has failed this young man.
The Sanders have emailed the school board members. None have contacted them. Mr. Sanders did find one school board member but he had no idea of the requirements.
School Board Meeting
On May 10 at 5 PM the Henry County School Board will meet. The Sanders intend on being present. It probably will not do any good, but the Sanders said this has affected Aaron in a negative way.
But as the educators will say when they want something "we do the for the kids".
In this case, if you met Aaron Sanders, I think you will agree, the Headland School System has failed this young man.