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!



Friday, January 27, 2017

I did three formal TESS observations this week, and even though the three content areas were vastly different I noticed a couple of similarities that are worth noting. All three lessons began with a short (5-10 minute) mini-teach that incorporated technology. In all three lessons, during the learning activity I observed the teachers walk around their room continuously to monitor student work and assess their understanding. In all three classes, students were highly engaged. Congratulations to Mr. Bennett (Economics), Mrs. Coffman (Clothing II), and Mrs. Felizco (Algebra II)!    
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Yesterday, we hosted a group of educators from Cedar Ridge High School. They came to our school because they are interested in implementing Flex Mod Scheduling and wanted to learn from our experience. They spent several hours with us and left very excited about the potential benefits for the students at Cedar Ridge. In addition to visiting with some of our leadership team, they also talked to teachers and students. Once again, a group of our students served on a panel and fielded questions from our visitors. After the panel discussion, our students escorted them on a tour of our campus and broke off in pairs to visit with them informally. I want to thank Caitlyn Fincher, Mallory GobleFreddy Ware and Des Wilson from our 9-12 building, and Zach Ezell and Presley Worsham from our 7-8 building, for a job well done serving on our student panel. I also want to thank Landon BurrowJoseph Loven, Austin Manuel, and Marciel Thomas for giving our friends from Cedar Ridge a tour of our campus.
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Sometimes we do not give ourselves enough credit for our successes; we tend to downplay those. For example, the team from Cedar Ridge was very impressed that we are a 1:1 school in terms of technology devices, and that all of our teachers and students use Google Classroom. While we always need to reflect on our shortcomings and look for ways to improve, we also need to acknowledge those things that we do well at RHS. Those things come not by accident, but through hard work and forward thinking.
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Arkansas Northeastern College (ANC) has partnered with the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce in the Be Pro Be Proud Initiative. This initiative has developed a mobile RV containing an interactive simulator to provide hands-on experiences with the technology used in many Career and Technical professions. I am pleased to announce that as an extension of our partnership with ANC, the Be Pro Be Proud RV will be on the Rivercrest campus on Monday, January 30th.  
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I am very proud of our FBLA students! We participated in the District II FBLA competition yesterday at Nettleton High School, and eighteen of our students placed in 10 different categories. We had a 1st place winner in Insurance and Risk Management (Madison Crawford), and our Parliamentary Procedures team of Bailee Henard, Bailee Moore, Madison Smith, Ashley Stewart, and Abbey Sullivan finished in 1st place as well! Congratulations to all of those eighteen students, and to Mrs. Penn for a job well done in the classroom!
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Sophomore Kentavious Robinson has been selected as the 2016 Newcomer of the Year in football by the Jonesboro Sun newspaper. He was also a member of the 3A-3 all-conference football team, and the Class AAA all-state football team. Last season, Kentavious rushed for 1,523 yards and scored 21 touchdowns on 180 carries, an average of 8.5 yards per carry. He also led the team in all-purpose yards and in scoring. From his linebacker position, Kentavious led the team with 120 tackles, including 20 for lost yardage.
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The Lady Colts improved to 9-10 on the season and 4-8 in conference play with a 59-39 win over the Lady Pirates from Gosnell last night. Three Lady Colts were in double figures, led by Sydney Lane with 19 points. Dede Williams scored 13 points and Amber Blagg finished with 10 points. Lexi Gonzalez and Zoe Warhurst scored seven points and six points, respectively.
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The Colts will play three games at Gosnell tonight. The 7th grade game will begin at 5:00 p.m., followed by the Jr. Boys' game and the Sr. Boys' game.
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On the Horizon at RHS.... 

Monday, January 30th - The Be Pro Be Proud RV will be at RHS. The Lady Colts will travel to Manila for three games (7th/Jr./Sr.), with the first one tipping off at 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, January 31st - The NAEP assessment will be given to students in the 8th grade. The Colts will host Manila for two games (Jr./Sr.), with the first one tipping off at 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 2nd - The Lady Colts will travel to Riverside for three games (7th/Jr./Sr.), with the first game tipping off at 5:00 p.m. 

Friday, February 3rd - Our students will participate in the T.O.P.S. Challenge at ANC. The Colts will host Riverside for three games (Sr. "B"/Jr./Sr.), with the first game tipping off at 5:00 p.m. This will be Senior Night for our boys basketball program.
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Colt Pride!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Yesterday, we hosted the leadership team from Clarendon High School at Rivercrest. They came to our school because they are interested in implementing Flex Mod Scheduling and wanted to learn from our experience. They spent several hours with us and left very excited about the potential benefits for the students at Clarendon. In addition to visiting with some of our leadership team, they also talked to teachers and students. I was most excited by a group of our students who served on a panel and fielded questions from our friends from Clarendon. After the panel discussion, our students escorted them on a tour of our campus and broke off in pairs to visit with them informally. Those are the "soft" skills of leadership and communication that are a part of ColtFlex! I want to thank Jamyka FranksSydney Lane, Stephan Range, and Oscar Rios from our 9-12 building, and to Kinsey Jones and Shaunclynn Perry from our 7-8 building, for a job well done!
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Eleven students in our December ACT Academy have earned incentive rewards totaling almost $3,500 for attendance and performance. Students were able to earn up to $150 for attending ACT prep sessions and up to another $350 for increasing their ACT scores as a result of what they learned in the academy. Congratulations to Elizabeth Bell, Mallorie Boyles, Jala Jones, Chris Mireles, Bobbie Pierce, Tailynn Richmond, Kelly Robinson, Raven Robinson, Hayley Toler, Luis Valenzuela, and Savannah Winford!
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Seven of our Essentials of Computer Programming students received a $100 Visa gift card as a result of their performance in that course last semester. We are able to do this through a grant from the Arkansas Department of Education. Congratulations to David Carney, Gilbert Jaramillo, Chris Mireles, Alex Poag, Ezequiel Sanchez, Scotty Sipes, and Jani Sykes! We will offer this incentive program again this semester.
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We are very proud of senior Taylor Oakes, who this week became the first cheerleader in school history to be named an all-state cheerleader by the Arkansas Activities Association. Congratulations, Taylor!
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Several of our students competed in the Mississippi County Spelling Bee this week and represented our school well. Caleb Benham finished 15th, while Aiden Ezell placed 21st and Victoria Joiner came in 30th. I appreciate Mrs. Christy Stewart for her sponsorship of this activity for our students.
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On the Horizon at RHS.... 

Thursday, January 19th - The Lady Colts will travel to Harrisburg for three basketball games (7th/Jr./Sr.), with the first one tipping off at 5:00 p.m. The Colts will make up the home games with Westside that were postponed due to inclement weather last Friday. The Jr. High game will be at 6:00 p.m., followed by the Sr. High game. There will not be a 7th grade game.

Friday, January 20th - The Colts will host the Harrisburg Hornets for three games (7th/Jr./Sr.). The 7th grade game will tip off at 5:00 p.m.
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Colt Pride!

Monday, January 9, 2017

An update on the School of Innovation application process: our 7-12 staff has elected two certified and two classified members to serve on our School Council of Innovation, and the PTO has elected four parents who will serve on the Council as well. I will also serve on the Council, as will two of our students. I hope to have them in place this week.
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Forty-seven students in grades 9-12 made the "Three A's" list for the second nine weeks. Those are students who earned at least a 2.0 Grade Point Average, had no discipline referrals, and had no more than two absences for any reason. We will let them offer suggestions on how they would like to be rewarded!
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I have overseen our Supplemental Instruction Program (SIP) since 2002. That program, sanctioned by the Arkansas Activities Association, offers students who wish to participate in extracurricular activities but have below a 2.0 the opportunity to do so if they complete 100 additional minutes of instruction per week during the semester. Out of 87 student-athletes participating in baseball, basketball, cheerleading, softball, and track this semester, only three will have to be in SIP! That is a record low, and is a testament to their work in the classroom and I believe to the extra time during the day that ColtFlex affords us!
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We are revamping our student tutoring program for math this semester. Instead of pairing students with students, we have generated enough interest to place one student in Mr. Felizco's room for each of the first seven flights of the day, and we also have three students available to tutor in our 7th and 8th grade building. These students are upperclassmen who have demonstrated math ability. Mrs. Jones came up with the idea based on the plan implemented at Dover High School a few years ago, and Mrs. LeeAnn Graham coordinated it. I certainly want to thank them, and those students who are volunteering their time!
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Our youth leadership team - Grayson Driver, Whitney Fincher, Sydney Lane, Gracie Pierce, Joseph Robertson, and Latijah Starr - will be going to Armorel High School on Wednesday for the monthly county-wide leadership team meeting. The topic this month will be diversity and communication.
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This Friday, seventeen of our 7-12 students will be participating in the National CyberPatriot competition. They will compete in teams to troubleshoot problems in Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Ubuntu 14, and Cisco packet tracer. The teams are sponsored by 1st Sgt. Bell and Mrs. Bell. Good luck!
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On the Horizon at RHS.... 

Monday, January 9th -  The Lady Colts will host Trumann for three basketball games (7th, Jr., and Sr.), with the first one tipping off at 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, January 10th - The Mississippi County Spelling Bee will be at 10:00 a.m. at Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville. The Colts will host Trumann for three games (7th, Jr., and Sr.), with the first one tipping off at 5:00 p.m. The Board of Directors of the Rivercrest School District will meet at 6:00 p.m. in the Parent/Teacher Center at RES.

Thursday, January 12th - The Lady Colts will travel to Brookland for three games (7th, Jr., and Sr.), with the first one tipping off at 5:00 p.m.

Friday, January 13th -  Our JROTC cadets will work the American Red Cross "Drive for Life" blood drive in Jonesboro. The Colts will host Brookland for three basketball games (7th, Jr., and Sr.), with the first one tipping off at 5:00 p.m.
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Colt Pride!