Monday, March 20, 2017

Victoria Beckett, Micah Driver, and Kinsey Jones have been selected to attend the Girls of Promise conference in Little Rock on April 13th and 14th. They were required to write two essays, and had to be nominated by a career & technical, a math, or a science teacher. The Girls of Promise committee chose our students out of many applicants from across Arkansas. This organization is focused on getting female students involved in STEM careers. Congratulations, girls! I also want to thank Mrs. Tracey Bell, Mrs. Tammy Fleming, and Mrs. Brooke Brewer for their participation in the process.
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Thirty-one of our students in grades 9-12 earned a spot on the "Three A's" list for their work during the third nine weeks. Modeled after an initiative first implemented at Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville, the Three A's recognizes and rewards students who, during each quarter, earn at least a 2.0 grade point average (academics) with fewer than two absences (attendance) and no discipline referrals (attitude).
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I am very pleased that nine of our RHS students have been selected to participate in the SkillsUSA State Competition, to be held April 10th-12th in Hot Springs, Arkansas. They were chosen to participate based on academic performance and classroom behavior at the ANC Technical Center. Congratulations to Chance Ainsworth, Tanner Austin, Breann Bonee, Courtney Brister, Kelly Robinson (observing only, will compete next year as upperclassman), Payton Russell, Aaron Sherrill, Haley Toler, and Savannah Winford.
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Congratulations to senior Bruce Parker and to sophomores Demilon Brown and Kentavious Robinson, who were named to the Class 3A-3 all-conference basketball team.
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Congratulations to juniors Sydney Lane and Dede Williams, who were named to the Class 3A-3 all-conference basketball team.
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Our Lady Colts finished in third place last weekend in the Bearcat Blast softball tournament in Brookland. We won two of three games, including 5-2 over Salem and 2-1 over Armorel. Our only loss was to Marmaduke, by a score of 6-1. Addison Ephlin, who had five RBIs in the tournament, drove in both of our runs against Armorel. Bailee Henard had five base hits in three games, while Erin Hardin and Lauren Shempert each had four hits. Bailee also struck out 26 hitters over the weekend. 
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The boys' track team competed in the Panther Relays last Thursday in Heber Springs. Senior Freddy Ware won the discus with a throw of 126-9. Oscar Rios finished second in the pole vault (11-8) and also in the 110m hurdles (16.90). Carl Coleman placed third in the 400m dash (53.79). Bruce Parker competed in four events. He was fourth in the 400m dash (55.04), fourth in the triple jump (39-11.5), seventh in the high jump (5-8), and ninth in the long jump (19-0).
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Our JROTC sponsored an American Red Cross blood drive last week, and our Rivercrest family exceeded our quota by donating 25 pints of blood. I want to thank senior cadet Jamya Coleman for coordinating the drive, and cadets Madison Crawford, Aliya Davis, Leah Pannell, and Ashley Thomas for working it.
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On the Horizon at RHS.... 

Monday, March 20th - The Lady Colts will travel to Walnut Ridge for a conference softball game. The first pitch is set for 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 21st - The Colts will play Bald Knob at West Memphis. The first pitch is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. The Lady Colts will host Jonesboro Westside in a conference game, beginning at 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, March 23rd - The Colts will travel to Riverside for a 1:00 p.m. conference baseball game.

Friday, March 24th - The Colts have two baseball games in West Memphis. We will play Gosnell at 1:00 p.m. and West Memphis at 3:00 p.m.
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Colt Pride!

Friday, March 10, 2017

A literacy specialist at Crowley's Ridge Educational Service Cooperative in Harrisburg observed Mr. Sean Bennett facilitate a part of his Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) module yesterday. With Sean's permission, I'll share the feedback he received:

"I so enjoyed visiting in your class today!  It's a joy to see great teaching and students learning. The way you had the students break down the teaching task with the graphic organizer really helps them to see the task is manageable. It also allowed you to see how much they already knew and what they will need more info about. Working in pairs provided support to all students and their different learning styles. You provided great scaffolding for them also. With everything teachers have to 'get in,' you were very patient and allowed them to discover the answers. It is much more relevant for them to find the answers and put it in their own words. You did this very well. Great rapport with your class. Your classroom management style was something a lot of veteran teachers strive to achieve. A teacher can have a perfect module/lesson and it falls apart because of management issues. I think you should submit this module to the LDC website/library."

Tremendous job, Mr. Bennett!
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Our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) Hub is up and running, and it has been a source of much excitement for our students and staff this week! In her e-mail introducing the Hub to our faculty and staff, Mrs. Dana Lane said something that really resonated with me:

"We want students to dream big, take risks, imagine new possibilities, express creativity, embrace challenges, be curious, and find their passions. Yes, there will be norms; but the goal is to give students a place to develop soft skills like perseverance and problem-solving in a space where they aren't graded, they don't have to follow a specific path of learning, and they are free to make and explore. Our long-term goal is to have students who can see needs and possibilities in their school and communities and design and create solutions." 

As an educator, I love that statement! In fact, there are elements there that could very well be core components of our school's vision and mission.
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During our leadership team meeting this week, I shared with the team my belief that we need to collectively strengthen our use of questioning and discussion techniques. I have asked them to focus on that particular piece during their peer observation visits this month. Earlier this week, I did an observation in Mrs. Karen Faries' AP English Literature & Composition class, and she modeled exactly the type of questions we need to be asking students across our buildings. I heard questions such as, "What do you think? Why do you say that? Can you elaborate on what she said?" There were some whole group questions, but Mrs. Faries' also made liberal use of questions to individual students. If we are to truly assess what students think and understand, we have to get them to talk to us and to their classmates. Great job, Mrs. Faries!  
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Our high school symphonic band had an outstanding performance last night at the ASBOA Region V Concert Assessment, hosted by Jonesboro High School. We received three Excellent ratings (2's, with 1's being the highest) for our concert pieces as well as a Superior (1) rating in sight reading! Congratulations!
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The Colts defeated Osceola 10-1 in baseball action yesterday afternoon at Harvey Barton Field. Zo Chipman went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and scored a run. Preston Wilson went 1-for-2 with a run scored. Chris Fetsch and Dalton Brumley scored two runs each. JoJo Cotton (1-0) struck out 13 Seminoles in four innings of work, allowing only one hit and one walk. Preston Wilson picked up the save, fanning five over three innings.
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The Lady Colts will travel to Manila for a softball game this afternoon. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
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On the Horizon at RHS.... 

Monday, March 13th - The District Leadership Team will meet at 9:00 a.m. in the RES Parent Center. The Lady Colts will play at Corning beginning at 4:00 p.m. The Colts will travel to Marked Tree to play the Indians at 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 14th - There will be a Jr. High track meet at Pocahontas. The RSD Board of Directors will meet at 6:00 p.m. at the RES Parent Center.

Wednesday, March 15th -  A team from Clarendon High School will visit RHS to view and discuss our implementation of ColtFlex.  

Thursday, March 16th - School will be dismissed at 1:30 p.m. Parent/Teacher Conferences will begin at 2:00 p.m. and conclude at 8:00 p.m.

Friday, March 17th - There will be no school. Administrators, faculty, and staff will report for professional development in the 9-12 library at 8:00 a.m. The Colts will host Jonesboro Westside, with the first pitch set for 4:00 p.m.
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Colt Pride!

Friday, March 3, 2017

I want to recognize and applaud one of my English teachers, Mrs. Jourdan Cobb. Mrs. Cobb attended professional development last summer as a part of our 2016-17 Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) cohort at Rivercrest. She did two modified LDC modules last semester, one on short stories (7th grade) and one on "The Odyssey" (9th grade). This semester, she created and implemented a LDC module over "Romeo and Juliet" (9th grade) and "A Soldier's Heart" (7th grade). Even though those modules were not required to be completed until March 1st, Mrs. Cobb had them ready for the literacy specialist from Crowley's Ridge Educational Service Cooperative to view in January. Additionally, a couple of weeks ago Jourdan volunteered to take over management of Structured Learning Time (SLT) for our 7/8 building, on top of teaching her full class load. I very much appreciate her leadership!
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Our JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl (JLAB) team placed in the top 15 out of 315 high schools in our eight-state region, which is composed of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. We were the only high school in Arkansas to place. Our team members were Kendarius Brooks, Madison Crawford, Zante Harris, Leah Pannell, Alex Poag, and Kyler Williams. Congratulations!
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The latest on our new Technology ILT room...we hope to have the "STEAM Hub" open for many of our ILT times next week. Right now, we are setting up some stations/challenges that will include Virtual Reality, stop motion video production, BreakoutEdu, coding, and engineering. I really appreciate the work of Dana Lane, Kristy Graham, and our entire IT staff on this. It's going to be an amazing experience! We have students who are already excited and getting plugged into the learning!
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One of our points of emphasis this year is work-based experiences for our students. Mr. Dave Diagostino has been working to find opportunities for our students, and I am pleased that one of our seniors - Samantha Smith - was in the field this week. Samantha job shadowed with the Mississippi County Hospital Systems in Blytheville. Next week, senior Kamilla Harris will job shadow at the Osceola Police Department. Both of these young ladies are also active on the leadership team at ANC-Burdette.
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The Lady Colts will play Batesville Southside tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. at Paragould High School as a part of the annual Paragould Play Day. Prior to that game, our Jr. varsity will take on Tuckerman at 1:00 p.m.
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On the Horizon at RHS.... 

Tuesday, March 7th - Our juniors will take the ACT exam. The Colts and Lady Colts will have baseball and softball games at Trumann, with the first pitch set for 4:30 p.m. in both contests.

Wednesday, March 8th - Our Youth Leadership Team will host the monthly meeting of leadership teams from all Mississippi County high schools, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Our building leadership team will meet at 1:30 p.m. in Room 108/109.   

Thursday, March 9th - The Colts will host Osceola, with the first pitch scheduled for 4:00 p.m. The Lady Colts will play at Manila at 4:30 p.m.

Friday, March 10th - This is the last day of the 3rd quarter of school.
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Colt Pride!


Friday, February 24, 2017

We have exciting news about a new opportunity for our students! Earlier this semester, Rivercrest High School was chosen by the Arkansas Department of Education to receive a Facebook/TechStart Virtual Reality Kit. The kits, which were donated by Facebook, include a computer, a 360-degree camera, and an Oculus Rift headset necessary to administer the program. This headset will allow students to immerse themselves in computer-generated environments. Our district had to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to participate in this program. Last week, Dana Lane, Kristy Graham, Tracey Bell, and Lynette Penn attended training at the Crowley's Ridge Educational Service Cooperative in Harrisburg. Our school leadership team decided earlier this week to create a Virtual Reality/Technology  ILT room, which will be located in Room 180 in our 9-12 building. We hope to have everything in place by next week so that our students can begin learning in a virtual reality computer science world!  
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We received a visit this week from Deborah Bales of the Arkansas Department of Education. She was on campus to review our Alternative Learning Environment (ALE) program. On the whole, the visit went well. Mrs. Bales was very impressed that we have incorporated ColtFlex into ALE, and she was also impressed that we have a content teacher in ALE during each flight. I really appreciate the work of Denise Forister, who has devoted considerable time and energy to our ALE program the past three years!
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On Tuesday of this week, some of our JROTC cadets presented the program at the meeting of the Osceola Rotary Club. The program was on the service learning project our cadets completed last year. Zante' Harris, Kalandria Ingram, and De'kes Slayton presented the program.
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I am very pleased to announce that two of our juniors, Bruce Colbert and Jenna McCullar, will be attending the American Legion Boys and Girls State this summer. Boys State will be held on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas from May 28th to June 2nd. Girls State will be the same week, on the campus of Harding University in Searcy.
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Those students who are enrolled in JAG (Jobs for Arkansas Graduates) this semester will be going on a tour of American Greetings today. I appreciate Sebree Bird for setting it up and LeeAnn Graham for accompanying them as an additional chaperone.
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On the Horizon at RHS.... 

Monday, February 27th - The District Leadership Team will meet at 9:00 a.m. in the Parent Teacher Center at RES. Juniors will take a practice online ACT exam, beginning at 8:15 a.m. The spring Sylvan ACT Prep will begin at 3:45 p.m. The Colts will open the 2017 baseball season at Marion, with the first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 28th - Freshmen and sophomores will take the third ACT Aspire Interim Assessment. The Lady Colts will open the 2017 softball season at EPC, with the first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 1st - Freshmen and sophomores will take the third ACT Aspire Interim Assessment.

Thursday, March 2nd - The Lady Colts will play Armorel at home, beginning at 4:00 p.m. The Colts will play at EPC, with the first pitch set for 4:30 p.m.

Friday, March 3rd - The Colts will play at Pocahontas, with the first pitch set for 4:30 p.m.
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Colt Pride!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I read a quote from Rick Wormeli on my Twitter feed this week that is worth sharing and thinking about:

"LSAT, MCATs, Praxis exams for teachers in the United States, bar exams for lawyers, CPA exams for accountants, driver's license tests, auto mechanic's certification tests, pilot license exams are all allowed to be taken over and over again for FULL CREDIT. High stakes, fully reflective of the larger responsible world the kids will one day enter. How pompous is it for a classroom teacher to say, 'This quiz...this paper...this test...this homework is so indicative of the larger world of responsibility that I'm trying to teach you, and so high stakes, that it can't possibly be redone.' You don't have a pedogogical leg to stand on."

That makes a great deal of sense to me. It speaks to the higher purpose of learning, rather than the recording of a numerical "grade" that may or may not have any relevance to the actual learning.  
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Isn't it funny how we can do the same thing over and over and then - almost out of the blue - we suddenly see it's true worth?

We had a voluntary faculty/staff meeting after school last Tuesday to talk about ColtFlex. We actually have these every Tuesday, just for about 30 minutes. We use them just to provide an opportunity to get any concerns out on the table and talk about possible solutions.

It hit me during the meeting last week that we were talking about real issues, but we were also sharing and laughing. Had we been in a church, we would have called it "fellowship."

We don't do enough of that in school, or in any other workplace, I'm afraid.

They didn't know it, but that was my staff's Valentines Day gift to me; they let me see them laugh and he happy.
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We had a very special moment at Rivercrest Tuesday afternoon. Senior Freddy Ware presented flowers to all of the girls in the Class of 2017. Some of our young ladies said that was the first time anyone had ever given them flowers. What a beautiful, memorable gesture by a very thoughtful young man


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I am pleased to report that progress is being made on our new football stadium. I facilitated a meeting last week between our coaches and representatives of Athletic Surfaces Plus, the company responsible for construction of the stadium, football field, and track. The meeting was productive; decisions were made about the location of the field relative to the school and locker room and about general design of the pressbox. Our goal is that we will open the 2017 season in our new stadium.
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The Colts will play in the Region 3A 3 Tournament at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Riverside High School. We will play Marshall, who is the third seed out of the 3A-1 East.
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On the Horizon at RHS.... 

Monday, February 20th - In light of the fact that this is Presidents' Day, there will be no school.

Tuesday, February 21st - Our Graduation Committee will meet at 3:20 p.m. in the conference room at RHS.

Wednesday, February 22nd - Our Leadership Team will meet at 1:30 p.m. in Room 108/109.

Thursday, February 23rd - Our 7th and 8th grade students will take the third ACT Aspire Interim assessment in the areas of math and science. The Colts Will play Marshall in the first round of the 3A 3 Region Tournament at Riverside High School. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.

Friday, February 24th - Our 7th and 8th grade students will take the third ACT Aspire Interim assessment in the areas of English and reading. Students in JROTC will take the ASVAB assessment.
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Colt Pride!

Friday, February 10, 2017

During the second nine weeks of school, 105 of our students in grades 9-12 made the Honor Roll by posting at least a 3.25 Grade Point Average. That includes 42 seniors, 18 juniors, 24 sophomores, and 21 freshmen. Twenty-three of those students earned all "As" for the second nine weeks.
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We are continuing our Tuesday afternoon Think Tank meetings this semester to share concerns and find solutions with ColtFlex. These after-school meetings, which are completely voluntarily, are typically attended by 18 to 25 of our faculty members. This is always a good opportunity for us to share celebrations, identify concerns, and discuss possible solutions. This week, for example, we clarified the criteria for placing a student in Mandatory ILT and Structured LT, and we discussed strategies for reducing the number of students assigned to SLT. Change is never easy, but I continue to be impressed and excited about the commitment of our faculty and staff to making ColtFlex a success. As a superintendent friend of mine says, "Whatever it takes!"
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It is always an exciting time for us when we see our students' hard work rewarded. We had another occasion to celebrate with one of them, and his family, this week. On Thursday morning, senior Bruce Parker signed a Letter of Intent to continue his football and academic career at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis. Bruce rushed for 353 yards and four touchdowns on 46 carries (7.7 ypc) for us last fall. He also made 72 tackles and intercepted two passes on defense, and was named to the 3A-3 all-conference team as a defensive back.
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Rivercrest graduate Jim Smith, who is an engineer with Sorrell-Smith in West Memphis, will be on campus at 8:20 a.m. next Thursday to talk with our students about opportunities in the engineering field and to do a demonstration for them. Our school district is assisting Mr. Smith with collecting some data for a project, and in turn he has volunteered his time to work with our students!
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The Lady Colts and Colts will close out their regular seasons tonight at Trumann. The Lady Colts will play the Lady Wildcats at 6:00 p.m., immediately followed by the Colts' and Wildcats' game.
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The 3A-3 District Tournament will be played next week at Osceola High School. The Lady Colts will play Hoxie in the first round at 5:30 p.m. Monday. Immediately following that game, the Colts will play Corning in the first round on the boys' side of the bracket.
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On the Horizon at RHS.... 

Monday, February 13th - The District Leadership Team will meet at 9:00 a.m. in the Parent Teacher Center at Rivercrest Elementary School. The 3A-3 District Tournament will begin at Osceola High School.

Tuesday, February 14th - The Rivercrest School District Board of Directors will meet at 6:00 p.m. in the Parent Teacher Center at Rivercrest Elementary School.

Thursday, February 16th - There will be a Regional Principals' Meeting at 8:30 a.m. at ANC-Burdette.
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Colt Pride!


Friday, February 3, 2017

I did a formal observation in one of Mr. Conley's Civics classes this week, and he was teaching a lesson on the ideals and goals of the U.S. Constitution. His students were rather passive during the lecture part of the lesson, but student engagement came alive when he began asking questions and leading them in a discussion of how those ideals and goals relate to current issues in our country, including recent Executive Orders signed by President Trump. One of the greatest services we can provide students is to weave current real-world issues into content in all disciplines. In addition to establishing a "so-this-is-how-this-fits" mindset, it also encourages them to become knowledgeable about and interested in current events. Great job, Mr. Conley!
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Today is the T.O.P.S. ("Tomorrow's Outstanding Professional Skills") Challenge competition at Arkansas Northeastern College, and we have 16 students competing in the areas of aviation, business, criminal justice, medical professions, and welding. This is a great opportunity for them not only to demonstrate their skills, but also to earn scholarships to ANC. Mrs. Penn and Mrs. Lancaster are chaperoning that trip for us today.
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Five of our students - Rylee Graham, Hannah Jones, Kam Lancaster, Ashley Stewart, and Zoe Warhurst - are attending the "Celebrating Future Women Leaders in STEM" conference today at Arkansas State University. By attending this event, our students are learning about a variety of careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics while interacting with science faculty at ASU and female STEM leaders in business and industry. This is a great experience for them, and I appreciate Dave Diagostino and LeeAnn Graham for chaperoning the trip.
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Our Cyberpatriot team is competing today in district competition. We are one of only two teams from the state of Arkansas to advance to that level.
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Several of our track athletes are competing tonight in the Arkansas Indoor High School State Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Elizabeth Bell and Sydney Lane are competing, along with Kendarius Brooks, Carl Coleman, Marco Cordova, Oscar Rios, Ethan Smith, and Warren Thurman.
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The Colts will play Riverside tonight in our final home game of the 2016-17 season. The Sr. "B" game will tip off at 5:00 p.m., followed by the Jr. Boys' game and then the Sr. "A" game. Senior Night ceremonies will be at halftime of the Jr. High game.
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On the Horizon at RHS.... 

Monday, February 6th - The Jr. Lady Colts will play Walnut Ridge at 4:00 p.m. in the first round of the Jr. High District Tournament at Piggott. The Lady Colts will host Westside at 6:00 p.m. in their final home game of the 2016-17 season. We will play one quarter of a Sr. "B" game, followed by the Sr. "A" game. Senior Night ceremonies will take place at 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday, February 7th - The Colts will travel to Westside for a pair of games. The Sr. "B" game will begin at 6:00 p.m., followed by the Sr. "A" game.

Thursday, February 9th - Bruce Parker's signing ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in the auditorium.

Friday, February 10th - The Lady Colts and Colts will travel to Trumann for a pair of senior high games, with the first one tipping off at 6:00 p.m.
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Colt Pride!