By Sally Absher


SDMS Student to Participate in Duke Talent Identification Program

Mason Strader (above), a 7th grader at South Doyle Middle School, was invited to participate in the Duke Talent Identification Program. Participants are selected for scoring above the 95th percentile on state achievement tests.  Mason scored high enough to be recognized at the State Recognition Ceremony which will be held on May 9th at Belmont University.

South Doyle Middle Curriculum Principal Dr. Zach Best told The Focus that other students were invited to participate, but the program does not share the names of those who elected to do so, or those who scored at a high level. Dr. Best said, “Mason’s mom shared this information with us, and we are very proud of his accomplishments.”

SDMS 8th Grade Chorus participated in the East Tennessee Vocal Association Middle School Choral Festival, receiving Superior ratings (the highest possible) in both performance and sight reading. Congratulations to the 8th Grade Chorus students and their teachers, Rebecca McCurdy and Bethany Williams!


 Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Round-up Begins April 18

The Knox County Schools is accepting applications for voluntary pre-kindergarten, during Pre-Kindergarten Round-up beginning April 18, 2016. To attend pre-kindergarten, children must be four years of age on or before August 15, 2016, and meet eligibility guidelines established by the Tennessee Department of Education. A complete list of dates, times and locations for pre-kindergarten application round-up and a list of documentation required to accompany the application, are available at or by calling 865-594-1529.


Sterchi 3rd Graders Celebrate Dr. Suess’ Birthday

Third grade students at Sterchi Elementary enjoyed celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday with Mr. Brian “Shoe” Shoesmith and WIVK the Frog!  Each grade level had local celebrity readers.  Thank you to all the readers for volunteering your time.


Young Historians Advance to National Competition

Nearly 70 students will be representing Tennessee at National History Day later this summer. Those students placed first or second in their categories at Tennessee History Day on April 9, 2016.

Tennessee History Day participants entered projects in five categories: documentaries, exhibits, performances, websites and papers. While projects must relate to the annual theme, students are encouraged to be creative when choosing a topic. This year’s theme was “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange.” 97 students received medals for their efforts, 27 students were awarded special prizes, two educators were recognized as teachers of the year and one teacher was named Behring Teacher Ambassador.

The judges at Saturday’s competition – including university professors, graduate students, high school teachers, librarians, archivists and other public historians – picked the winners from the 152 submitted projects.

This year, National History Day will be held June 12 through June 16 on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland. Medal winners from Knoxville who participated in the April 9 Tennessee History Day competition include:

Kenton Smith, Benjamin Hall; L & N STEM Academy, First Place Senior Group Documentary: “Buying In: The Music of Vince Guaraldi.”

Kaylie Pomerantz, Laila Stempkowski, St. John Neumann School, First Place, Junior Group Documentary and Best Project in African-American History, Junior Division: “Exploration of Tennessee’s Journey to Desegregate Schools and Struggles Encountered Along the Way.”

Connor McGinley, L&N Stem Academy, Third Place, Senior Individual Exhibit: “The Manhattan Project: Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in the Secret City.”

Jeremiah Branson, Justin Cross, Noah Dunlap, Preston Nicely, Noah Watson, L&N Stem Academy, Second Place, Senior Group Exhibit and Best Project in Tennessee History, Senior Division: “The 1982 World Fair: Knoxville’s Rise to Prominence.”

Abigail Prosise, Farragut High School, Second Place Senior Individual Website: “From Atoms to Armstrong.”

Emma Yambert, L&N Stem Academy, Third Place, Senior Individual Paper: “Exploring Nucelar Energy: Oak Ridge, Tennessee.”

Sofia Tomov, Thursday Connection, Knoxville, First Place, Junior Individual Paper: “Exploring the First Amendment: Tinker v. Des Moines (1969) and the Exchange of Ideas Through Protest.”

Abbey Morgan, Jacob Samar, Jacob Siler, Kishan Tailor, L&N Stem Academy, Society of TN Archivists Award for Archival Research, Senior Division: Cordell Hull: Architect of Peace.”

Sofia Tomov, Thursday Connection, Dr. Ruben Brooks Award: “Exploring the First Amendment: Tinker v Des Moines (1969) and the Exchange of Ideas Through Protest.”