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OCS Connections for March 3, 2023



OCS Connections 2023 #6
for March 3, 2023 


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OCS Career Fair April 15, Pre-Register Now

Jobs Available in Orange County Schools

This Week’s Top 10!

Board of Education

  • Calendars for Approval March 6, 2023

  • Recognitions for March 6, 2023

Notes from Our Community

Important Reminders

Social Scene





Apply for classified and certified positions, interview, meet supervisors and principals, and obtain potential job offers all in one day! 

Pre-register now and tell a friend to visit to make their reservation today!




Orange County Schools has a referral program for ALL current full-time and part-time staff to recommend new staff members for ALL job openings. Current OCS employees, click here or the image below for details and to participate!



Are you looking for a new opportunity? Visit our Careers page and view all our current job openings. Start your journey with Orange County Schools today. (Tell a friend! Share this link →




Congratulations National Board-Certified Teachers!

As of February 2023, there are 87 National Board-Certified Teachers (NBCT) in Orange County Schools. 

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) named OCS a "National Board Accomplished District" with over 20% of teachers achieving new or renewal certification (most recent year, 2021). 

Congratulations to our newest National Board-Certified Teachers! Jodie Berger, Kristin Ducanis, Amanda Ekholm, Cheri Katrina Thomas, and Kaitlin Ray.

These NBCT also just completed their re-certification! Whitney Williams, Scarlett Chapman, Teresa Rogers-Thorpe, Elizabeth Ann McCue, Roger Orstad, Elizabeth McDaniel, Volodymyr Babchenko, and Patrick Dall.


In the second grade team at Grady A. Brown Elementary, Jodie Berger, Whitney Williams (renewal), Amanda Ekholm, and Kaitlin Ray all earned certification as new or renewing NBCT this school year.


With expanded district support for teachers pursuing Board certification, OCS hopes even more teachers will pursue certification and take their professional practice to the next level. Some teachers also worked through the process at the same time, like the second-grade team at Grady A. Brown (above) – all four teachers in the grade level earned their new or renewal certification this year.

OCS is currently reviewing all past years' certifications to recognize all new and renewing NBCT at the March 20, 2023 Board of Education meeting.


School Social Worker Week


March 6-11 is National School Social Work Week. Orange County Schools is proud to celebrate National School Social Work Week and share much-deserved recognition for the vital role our school social workers provide to students, administrators, teachers, educators, parents, and the community!


The theme for National School Social Work Week 2023 is “We Rise.” 


School Social Workers rise up – supporting their students, families, and school communities.  School Social Workers rise to share hope. They rise to listen and understand. They rise to challenge inequities. They rise to support all students.


Thank you School Social Workers for all you do, and thank you schools and families for celebrating the important contribution of these dedicated support professionals. We hope you have a Happy School Social Work Week!!! #WeRise2023 #SSWWeek2023


Music in Our Schools Month, Arts in Our Schools Month

Music in Our Schools Month became a national celebration in 1985, and for over 30 years, the National Association for Music Education ( has helped to grow awareness of the event. 

With other organizations supporting the effort, March has grown to become Arts in Our Schools Month. Stay tuned to this space for celebrations of music, dance, theatre, visual and performing arts all month long! 


Art and STEM go together to make STEAM, as seen here in the hallways at Grady A. Brown Elementary during a recent STEM Night for families.


Orange County Schools wishes to elevate the contributions of everyone in our learning community who helps to ensure that arts education is always available for every single student to reach their maximum potential.

For example: Don’t miss “Feminine Identity” by Cedar Ridge IB Art student Sarah Carson (below), on display at Hillsborough Arts Council through March 12. See earlier OCS Connections for more information on local shows by CRHS IB Art students.


Hillsborough Arts Council and Margaret Lane Gallery host displays of student art, with new programs in March 2023.


Read Across America

Every year since 1998, schools nationwide have celebrated March 2 as Read Across America Day. We may read aloud in schools all year long – including summer programs! – but from March 2 to March 6, OCS schools have been buzzing with students, staff, families, and community members celebrating the joy of reading aloud together. 


Pre-K teacher Rusty Sharpe plays all the parts in Abiyoyo, a tale of adventure and magic for young readers at Efland-Cheeks Global Elementary "Bedtime Stories Around the World."


Do we need a special day, or a week, to celebrate reading? Here are the facts:

  • More than half of American adults haven’t read a book in the past year. (Just because we CAN read doesn’t mean that we WILL.) 

  • Learning to read is closely tied to talking and listening, and reading reduces stress by up to 68% (learn more).

  • When you read just 20 minutes per day, that adds up to approximately 1,800,000 words per year. One study estimated that a fifth grader reading at the 90th percentile encounters about 2 million words every year, just in texts read outside of school. Twenty minutes per day.

  • By reading one book per day to your child, they will have read 1825 books by the time they are five years old.


Community members and staff enjoy reading their favorite books, including Dr. Jessica Dreher (OCS Director of Student Engagement & Support) who read a perennial favorite for “Bedtime Stories Around the World” at Efland-Cheeks Global Elementary.


Enjoy Read Across America Week from March 2 through March 6! And keep our students moving in the right direction. Orange County Schools is Teaching Tomorrow’s Leaders, and that starts with becoming readers.


Orange High Baseball seniors join South Mebane Elementary for Read Across America Week 2023.


Stay tuned and follow OCS social media feeds for more news of Read Across America and our learning community’s lifelong love of reading!


Battle of the Books!

Congratulations to all our Middle School readers who participated in the 2023 Battle of the Books! Participants read sixteen different books and joined a team competition that tests their knowledge of important moments in every book.





This year, Orange Middle School (above) came out on top in the three-team competition hosted by Gravelly Hill Middle School (below). Next year’s book list for MBOB (Middle School Battle of the Books) is already online! 




National School Breakfast Week, National Nutrition Month

National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) celebrates the importance of a nutritious school breakfast in fueling students for success. #NSBW23 is March 6-10, and the 2023 theme is “Dig In to School Breakfast.” 

We look forward to showing delicious and nutritious options from School Nutrition Services all week long!




March is also National Nutrition Month® (NNM), created 50 years ago by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In March, we invite you to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits. This year's theme is "Fuel for the Future." 

Start the learning and follow OCS School Nutrition Services on Instagram, plus find all monthly cafeteria menus at their district web page!


Taste Testing at Middle School Cafeterias

OCS School Nutrition Services professionals are testing new recipes, and they recently visited both Orange Middle School and Gravelly Hill Middle School to gather feedback straight from students!


Kim Copeland and Amy Crabtree serve up new potential menu options for students at Gravelly Hill Middle School.


Students have had the opportunity to taste-test recipes such as chicken and mashed potato bowls at OMS, and Buffalo chicken dip at GHMS. Each student completes a survey form, and based on the number of positive responses these new recipes may soon become menu items!



With Pizza Hut pizza on the menu at middle and high schools, and new menu options approved by students, School Nutrition Services continues to adapt and provide options that are both nutritious and appealing to students.



Keep following OCS School Nutrition on Instagram and find the monthly menus online at their district web page!


Sofia Parces-Cintron Breaks New Ground

If you know how to make chicken piccata, glazed carrots, and orzo with basil, all from memory, you might be a veteran of the North Carolina FCCLA culinary competition held last month at Johnson & Wales University. 

While most participants came from large teams and trained in specialized culinary kitchens at their schools, FCCLA president Sofia Parces-Cintron took on a mission – three weeks from the start of OHS Food & Nutrition II class, she became the first OHS student to enter a culinary competition in nearly 25 years and took third place in her group!



“Food is life. Food is love,” Sofia said as she explained her deep personal commitment to cooking – steeped in foods she enjoyed as a child, then learned to prepare for siblings, parents, and even grandparents. 

“Whenever I grew up and ate the food what I always heard was, ‘I made the food with love.’ I have just grown up with that, and I just want to bring my experiences, and my tastes, and my food to the world, just bring people together and connect them with food, because I feel like food connects people.”


Hundreds of culinary creations are captured on the phone of future chef Sofia Parces-Cintron, including this risotto featuring multiple cheeses, mushrooms, tiny bits of crispy bacon, and “love.”


Sofia has integrated that connection into her professional life too, interning three days a week as a baker for UNC Chapel Hill’s student dining services. She has also attended her first “accepted students” event with Culinary Institute of America in New York, where she is set to begin a four-year culinary program this fall.

Join Coach Heath Wrenn (OHS Food and Nutrition teacher) and Sofia at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, March 6, to hear the story of the competition, including a last-minute call from another OHS alum who works as a renowned chef, and where Sofia and FCCLA will go next from here!


Shannon Dorsi, Spectrum News HS Scholar of the Week

Orange High School senior Shannon Dorsi was happy to learn that she had a solid recommendation from counselor Kristen Sharpe, who is new to Orange High School this year, for her scholarship application. 

Shannon was even more pleasantly surprised to learn she was being awarded a $1,000 scholarship as Spectrum News High School Scholar of the Week!


OHS senior Shannon Dorsi with (L to R) parents Tracy and Ted Dorsi, Board vice chair Anne Purcell, NC State Senator Graig Meyer, Board chair Will Atherton, OHS counselor Kristen Sharpe, OHS Principal Jason Johnson, and Superintendent Dr. Monique Felder.


Shannon plans to study business at North Carolina State or the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, with an eventual career goal of working in human resources. Spectrum News will stream a video of the award within the next couple weeks. Congratulations to Shannon and OHS!


Peachjar for Families, Community

Exciting news! In an effort to provide increased access to programs and resources that improve the trajectory of our students’ lives, Orange County Schools is preparing to launch Peachjar on March 14, 2023. This new platform will enable us to send important school and community flyers to parents and guardians digitally.

School-approved digital flyers will be sent to your email inbox where you can easily click to sign up for events and programs. No more digging through backpacks to find lost flyers. Additionally, you will be able to access flyers right from the homepage of your child(ren)’s school using a Peachjar button posted on district and school websites when we go live.

You’ll receive a welcome email from Peachjar. No action is required to begin receiving this communication from your school. Look for emails with the subject line of “School Announcement and Opportunities for your Child.

To ensure you don’t miss notifications, we suggest you add to your email contacts and click “always display images” when you receive your first email. Peachjar is used exclusively for the distribution of school and district-approved flyers only. Your email address will not be shared or used for any other purpose.

Thank you for supporting our efforts to ensure families are well informed about school programs, activities, and events!


BONUS ⭐ Spring Competition Season Includes Robots!

Keep watching this space for news of spring competitions from arts to athletics and beyond. If someone is making their mark in Orange County Schools and we haven’t heard about it yet, please tell us about it here.

For this weekend, we hope you follow Team 587 Hedgehogs as they compete on March 4 at UNC Asheville in the FIRST Robotics Competition and begin their quest to return to the World Championship again this year!

  • All events are free to the public, featuring about thirty teams from across North Carolina. 

  • All teams are working to qualify for the state championship March 31- April 2 at East Carolina University. 

  • The top fourteen teams will represent North Carolina at the World Championship In Houston, TX from April 19-23, 2023.

The FIRST North Carolina website is

The link to the live stream of the events is here, and you can watch an overview of this year's game here.





Stay informed of school board action. BOARD Matters is not meeting minutes, which must be approved at a later board meeting. Find meeting minutes HERE. Visit the OCS website to view the most current BOARD Matters.


Calendars for Approval March 6, 2023

At their meeting on February 20, 2023, the Board of Education voted to close schools and campuses for school and all after-school activities on March 5, 2024, during primary elections which will be held on multiple OCS campuses.


The Calendar Committee met Friday, February 24, to address the change and propose calendars that follow the state calendar law.


Calendars will be proposed to the Board of Education at their meeting on March 6, 2023. Thank you again to all our students, staff, families, and community for your input into school calendars and your patience with this process.


Board Recognitions

Learn about Board agendas at the Board of Education website

These recognitions are on the Board agenda for March 6, 2023:

  • Emily Gaddy, Head Athletic Trainer - Orange High School, North Carolina Athletic Trainers Association (NCATA) Athletic Trainer (AT) Service Award

  • National School Social Work Week 2023 March 5-11, 2023 - Recognition of OCS Social Workers

  • Read Across America Day (March 2) & Read Across America Week (March 2-6)

  • Sofia D. Parces-Cintron, Student at Orange High School, Foods Student & Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) President - Placed 3rd in her group at the 2023 Culinary Arts Competition at Johnson & Wales University on February 24th

  • Music is Our Schools Month & Arts in Our Schools Month - March 2023


Upcoming Board Meetings

The Board of Education’s next regular business meeting is Monday, March 6, 2023 at the Whitted Building, 300 W. Tryon Street, Hillsborough, NC. Closed session begins at 6:00pm. Open session begins at 7:00pm. See details here.




March is Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration by presidential proclamation and began on March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress designated March as “Women’s History Month.” Since 1995, presidents have issued annual proclamations designating March as “Women’s History Month.” 



In Orange County Schools, we celebrate the contributions women have made to our schools, community, and nation and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields.


GAB Cougars celebrate a new mural created by 3rd Grade students in partnership with Artist in Residence, Jason Abide. “This one goes along with our STEM focus for the year; Women In STEM. Wonderful addition to our hallway!”

Severe Weather Readiness Week, Statewide Tornado Drill March 8 

North Carolina Severe Weather Preparedness Week is March 5-11, 2023. The 2023 NC Annual Statewide Tornado Drill is scheduled for Wednesday, March 8, at 9:30 AM. Orange County Schools will participate. 


Visit the Preparedness and Weather Safety page at the National Weather Service - Raleigh website for further details. 


K-12 Science Standards, Stakeholder Survey

The NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) seeks feedback from educators, families, and other stakeholders on the latest draft of revised K-12 Science Standards, to inform any additional revisions (changes, clarifications, additions, deletions, or replacements) to the draft standards.

Click here to enter the survey. There is a page for each grade level, with about 10 questions on each page. Review as many levels as you choose, from kindergarten to 12th grade. Orange County Schools is in the North Central Region, or District 3. The survey will close at 11:59pm on Sunday, March 26, 2023.


Free Sports Day @ Duke Athletics March 4, Girls & Boys Grades 1-8

On Saturday, March 4, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Duke Athletics is hosting a free clinic in Cameron Indoor Stadium for girls and boys in grades 1-8, to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sport. At this clinic, Duke women’s varsity sports will each have stations for children to rotate through. This is the first year back for this event after a two-year hiatus. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required.


Full “How to Pay for College” CFNC Webinar Series

NCSEAA and CFNC are pleased to bring you the “How to Pay for College” webinar series. 



Students and their families are often confused about how to bridge the gap between family funds, financial aid and the total cost of paying for college. Funding a college education shouldn’t be a mystery. Having a better understanding of the funding landscape can help families build a sound plan so students can focus on their studies.

Find the full webinar series here.




Kindergarten and All New Student Registration, Grades K-12:
Visit our enrollment page to learn more and use our new, easy registration process.


Pre-K Registration Now Open!
Download an OCS Pre-K application for high-quality early childhood education.


Update Your Contact Information:
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Our mission at Orange County Schools is to educate students in a safe, inclusive environment where we engage, challenge, and inspire them to reach their maximum potential.