Pender School Board responds to Annandale alum, recognizes Topsail High Intervention Team

To start off its regular meeting on Tuesday night, the Pender County Board of Education recognized several students and teachers. 

BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — To start off its regular meeting on Tuesday night, the Pender County Board of Education recognized several students and teachers.

The board recognized two Topsail High School seniors who are National Merit Scholars and a group of teachers from Topsail High School who serve as mentors to at-risk students.

Topsail High Principal Dr. Larry Obeda says the “Intervention Team” is made up of 25 teachers who have volunteered their time to mentor at-risk kids based on their academics.

Students who are identified as at-risk are offered the mentoring program and they can decline it, but many have taken advantage of it. Each teacher has about five to six students that they meet with as much as twice per week.

“They’re building relationships,” Obeda said. “Now they’re opening up to you and telling you things they normally probably wouldn’t have told you. You get to know that student on a personal level and then by identifying what their needs are beyond the academic component, you can actually help that student and their families so that student can be successful.”

The principal says the teachers who are giving up their extra time for no extra pay speaks volumes about their character and the quality of the teachers at Topsail High.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, a spokesperson from the group aiming to change the name of Topsail Elementary School to Annandale School asked the board to take a vote on the issue during public comment.

Annandale School was built in 1955 as an equalization school for Black students following the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling. It was an eight-room school that cost $100,000 to construct. Annandale opened its doors in August of 1956. In the late 1960s, the school’s name was changed to Topsail Elementary.

The group advocating for the name change has been coming to the board expressing their comments and concerns for about a year now. The board did not take a vote on Tuesday. However, Board Member Cindy Fontana encouraged the group to get involved with Topsail Elementary’s administration and parent-teacher association to talk about the history of the school. Board Vice-Chair Beth Burns echoed Fontana’s remarks.

James Hansley is an Annandale alumnus and the man who started the effort to rename the school. He says he believes this is an excuse to postpone the possibility of a vote, but they will gladly speak with the Topsail Elementary administration, teachers, and parents.

“Whatever we’ve got to do, we’re going to do it. As a matter of fact, she asked us to attend the PTA meeting. We will and we will talk to the parents and whatever because a lot of people don’t know what’s going on here,” Hansley said. “They’re not publicizing what’s going on. We are, through the media and whatever, and by the grace of God, I hope we get it done. We’re going to get it done.”

Hansley remains hopeful the board may take a vote at its next meeting.

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