The Cherokee County School District and one of its leaders are finalists for national school spirit awards!
The Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards celebrate schools, organizations and individuals who “go above and beyond the call of duty to build school pride, student engagement and community spirit.”
The finalists list just released by the company names Woodstock High School Principal Mark Smith as a contender for its Most Spirited Principal award, and CCSD for the Spirit of St. Jude Award. Winners will be announced at the company’s School Spirit Awards Show in Orlando on May 11.
“School spirit plays an important role in the success of a school, and we’re so proud and excited about these honors,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Everyone who knows Mark knows he’s the school’s and the town’s No. 1 cheerleader. He cares deeply about every student and staff member, and all of their families, and that’s evident in everything he does. It’s also humbling to be recognized for having the Spirit of St. Jude. Kids are what we’re all about, and when kids are hurting, we all hurt. Visiting St. Jude’s and meeting those kids moves your heart, and so does seeing our own students put their ice cream money in a jar to help.”
The Principal award recognizes a leader who “understands the essential link between school spirit and student achievement, and supports academics and athletics alike.” High school principals who are active in school activities, encouraging, and innovative are eligible for nomination.
Mr. Smith is one of only five finalists named from a pool of thousands of eligible principals. The longtime educator and principal is known not only in his school community, but also throughout Cherokee County, for his incredibly infectious school spirit and sincere support of all students and staff. Mr. Smith also is beloved for his hilariously charming hype videos on social media, usually featuring various costumes, the shouted chant “We Are… Woodstock,” and, occasionally, wrestling.
The Spirit of St. Jude award, named for the children’s research hospital, honors schools and school districts that engage the majority of its students in fundraising for the charity, which is a major recipient of Varsity Brands’ philanthropy.
CCSD is one of eight finalists nationwide for the award, and is being recognized for the districtwide efforts led by Dr. Debra Murdock, CCSD’s Executive Director of Administrative Leadership for middle and high schools. These efforts include fundraising at individual schools through activities like hat days and penny wars, as well as donations made at the gate for Senior Series athletic events organized by Dr. Murdock and the CCSD Office of School Operations. Last school year’s fundraising for St. Jude topped $55,000.
Dr. Hightower is personally committed to supporting St. Jude, and his contributions rose to a new level this past December with his participation as a runner in the charity’s annual Marathon Weekend in Memphis.
Varsity Brands is made up of BSN Sports, Varsity Spirit and Herff Jones, with products including athletic equipment and uniforms, cheerleading camps and competitions, graduation products, class rings and yearbooks.