Minority students at Crest Middle called to a special assembly - | WBTV Charlotte

Minority students at Crest Middle called to a special assembly

Their kids were sent to special assembly at Crest MS to talk about grades. (Dedrick Russell | WBTV) Their kids were sent to special assembly at Crest MS to talk about grades. (Dedrick Russell | WBTV)

Cleveland County School District officials say there was a special assembly for minorities at Crest Middle School. The purpose of the assembly was to motivate the minority students about the importance of test scores and the importance of doing well academically.

This was part of the Closing the Gap Committee's program. The school district says the meeting lasted about an hour and Chad Beam served as the motivator. The school district says Beam is a former semi-pro football player and a minority teacher who was also Cleveland County School's Teacher of the Year.

Students who attended the assembly tell WBTV they were told their scores are low because they are busy trying to be the class clown. Parents are concerned this assembly will feed into stereotypes and do more harm than good.

"It will hurt more," parent Callie Ann Starnes said. "Because if you are going around talking to people and everybody is going to put their opinion on everything that goes on."

Some parents are concerned about this special assembly. They thought it was bashing students. They claim some students left upset. Another parent believes the meeting ridiculed and talked down to students about their scores.

Rufus Thompson's grandson was in the assembly. The grandfather thinks this matter could have been handled differently, and that the assembly should have included more students.

"Seems like it would have been better," Thompson said, "If you talked to all the kids."

Thompson also believes parents should have been notified about the assembly, but that parents were left in the dark about it. The school district says it will do a better job communicating with parents.

"You got the parents upset," Thompson said. "And now you are working against what you tried to accomplish."

School Board Chair Phillip Glover sent WBTV a response concerning the assembly. He saw no problem with it.

"The Cleveland County Schools Teacher of the Year, a high school AP English Teacher, spoke to a group of minority students at Crest Middle School about closing the achievement gap," Glover wrote. "As a former minority semi-professional football player with a great story to share, he has a gift for motivating students on the importance of excelling academically, working to close the achievement gap, and giving your best every day."

The school's website shows Crest Middle did not meet expected growth in eighth grade science. Eighth grade science reports from 2013-2014 show only 58.1% of students were proficient, that's below the district average. Sixth grade science scores show 57.9% of students perform on grade level and 61.7% of the seventh graders are proficient in science.

While the school district believes no harm was done is gathering minority students together for a little pep talk, some believe this special assembly was inappropriate and left students embarrassed and inadequate.

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