A few tickets left for Saturday fundraiser for Roane State scholarships

High Tea Roane State Fundraiser

From left, Sally Peterka with Roane State’s Roane County site support team and Roane State Foundation board member Dana Peterka prepare items for a silent auction that will be part of the Foundation’s Jan. 24 Upstairs/Downstairs High Tea. (Submitted photo)


A few tickets remain for Roane State Foundation’s Upstairs/Downstairs High Tea on Saturday. Proceeds will be used for student scholarships.

The fundraiser is inspired by the hit show “Downton Abbey.” It starts at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 24, at the Whitestone Country Inn in Kingston.


In the picture above, Sally Peterka, left, with Roane State’s Roane County site support team and Roane State Foundation board member Dana Peterka prepare items for a silent auction that will be part of the Upstairs/Downstairs High Tea. Roane State Foundation board member Mary Ann Reeves helped collect the auction items, and the Foundation invites you to enjoy a traditional tea and bid on your favorite goodies.

A limited number of tickets ($50 for individuals, $75 for couples) remain. To order tickets, contact the Roane State Foundation at (865) 882-4507 or [email protected].

Technology Town Hall at Glenwood Elementary on Tuesday

Glenwood Elementary School

Glenwood Elementary School in east Oak Ridge is pictured above.

Glenwood Elementary will host the next Oak Ridge Schools Technology Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, January 27, at 6 p.m. in the library.

“Come learn why computer skills are important in our schools,” a press release said. “Learn about Hour of Code and how Glenwood has started to incorporate coding into the school day. Community members will be invited to the computer lab to try your hands at coding skills.”

Earthquake lecture: Can ‘the big one’ happen here?

Robert D. Hatcher Jr.

Robert D. Hatcher Jr.

Could we have a major earthquake in East Tennessee? Do we live in an active seismic zone?

These and many other questions will be answered by Robert Hatcher, University of Tennessee distinguished scientist, at a lecture sponsored by the UT Arboretum Society on Thursday, January 22, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the City Room at Roane State Community College in Oak Ridge.

Due to popular demand, Hatcher is again returning to address these and other questions about earthquake activity in our area, a press release said.

Hatcher will discuss whether earthquakes are frequent in our area, and he will also discuss the chances of experiencing a strong quake. [Read more…]

ORHS: Four state winners, one national winner in computing awards for young women

NCWIT Awards to Oak Ridge High School

Pictured above from left to right are Olivia Bookout, Patricia Edou, Serena French, and Keith Jackson. Indigo Jackson is not pictured. (Submitted photo)


Four Oak Ridge High School students won state honors, and one student was a national winner—the first from East Tennessee—in computing awards given to young women in 2015.

The Award for Aspirations in Computing by the National Center for Women and Technology honors young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests, a press release said. Awardees are selected for their computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.

The four ORHS students were among 11 state winners from Tennessee. The Oak Ridge students are Olivia Bookout, Patricia Edou, Serena French, and Indigo Jackson. [Read more…]

ORAU wins contract worth up to $89 million from EPA

Oak Ridge Associated Universities Building MC-100

The Oak Ridge Associated Universities Building MC-100 is pictured above.

Oak Ridge Associated Universities recently won a five-year contract worth up to $89 million from the Environmental Protection Agency to manage the EPA Environmental Research and Business Support Program, which provides opportunities for exceptional undergraduate and recent bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral graduates to participate in the EPA-sanctioned research and administrative projects.

Through this work, ORAU will recruit and place employees at 13 EPA Office of Research and Development laboratories and research centers across the U.S.  These participants in both business and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields will receive hands-on training in real-world settings at these laboratories and research centers while contributing to EPA’s mission, a press release said. [Read more…]

Superintendent Borchers at Lunch with League on Tuesday

Bruce Borchers

Bruce Borchers

During a lunchtime meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Bruce Borchers will review areas of focus for Oak Ridge Schools and share data on the past year’s achievements of students and staff members.

Borchers will also highlight future plans and programs, including the plan to transform Oak Ridge Schools into the premier preK-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) school district in the nation. There will also be an update on the status of the recommendations for the Preschool and the School Administration Building, a press release said.

Borchers will be the guest speaker at Lunch with the League on Tuesday, January 20. The program starts at noon in the Social Hall of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church at 809 Oak Ridge Turnpike. [Read more…]

Anderson County, Clinton schools closed Friday due to icy conditions

Light Snow Image

Image courtesy National Weather Service in Morristown.


Anderson County Schools will be closed Friday, January 16, due to icy conditions in many parts of the county, officials said. The Central office will follow the inclement weather procedure.

Clinton City Schools will also be closed Friday, January 16, because of the expected weather conditions, officials said.

The forecast near Oak Ridge calls for decreasing clouds and a low of 29 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday night. Friday is expected to be sunny, with a high near 47 and a calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph.

Council, School Board to discuss Preschool, Administration Building today

Oak Ridge Preschool and School Administration Building

Oak Ridge school officials have previously considered four options to replace or renovated the Oak Ridge Schools Preschool and Robert J. Smallridge School Administration Building on New York Avenue. Officials say the building needs to be renovated or vacated for the Head Start program to receive funding in the 2015-2016 school year.


The Oak Ridge City Council and Board of Education have a joint meeting this evening (Thursday, January 15) to discuss the Preschool and School Administration Building, a 70-year-old building that officials have been hoping to replace for years.

In December, the City Council and BOE toured a building on Mitchell Road that could be a new home for the Preschool. It’s one of several proposed options that have been recently discussed. Others include repairing the existing building on New York Avenue or building a new facility. Officials have largely ruled out splitting up the Preschool and hosting students in classrooms at the city’s elementary schools.

Education officials say the Preschool has to be renovated or vacated by next year in order for the school system to continue to receive federal Head Start funding. [Read more…]

U.S., Tennessee, community college officials react to president’s education proposal

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, U.S. senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, and U.S. representatives Chuck Fleischmann and John J. Duncan Jr., all Republicans, released statements or commented on the East Tennessee visit by President Barack Obama, a Democrat, on Friday and his proposal to make the first two years of community college free to responsible students. Pellissippi State Community College President Anthony Wise and Roane State Community College President Chris Whaley also released statements or commented on the visit and education proposal.

The president’s proposal, America’s College Promise, will be proposed in his State of the Union on January 20, and it is modeled after the Tennessee Promise.

Here’s what the officials from Tennessee said:

Bill Haslam during Presidential Visit at Pellissippi State

Governor Bill Haslam was among the Tennessee leaders who received praise from the president during Obama’s 5.5-hour visit to East Tennessee on Friday. (Photo by Rob Welton)

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

The president recognizes that good things are happening in Tennessee. We are proud of the Tennessee Promise. It is changing the culture of expectations in Tennessee by encouraging more students to pursue a certificate or degree beyond high school. The Tennessee Promise is focused not just on access but success in terms of making certain that students actually attain their degree. We think having a mentor available for the students is an important part of achieving that success.

Regarding the specifics of the president’s plan, we look forward to seeing more details in the coming days about the cost of the program and how it will be covered. [Read more…]

Guest column: Becoming a healthy community

Stability and growth of that complex system called a community depends on honesty, equality, fairness, balance, foresight, continuity, healthy relationships, maturity, safety, common goals, and recognizable successes shared among all community members and good leadership.

Industry and government facilities were having great difficulty attracting highly educated and qualified professionals to Oak Ridge despite competitive salaries in the new millennium. One of the attractions that might help this problem was thought to be the existence of superior schools for the children of those professionals, combined with attractive, upscale housing.

As is so typical in Oak Ridge, many bright minds saw only their need and targeted the solution they hypothesized would make it work. Also, as so often happens with brilliant focused minds, the complexity of the economic and social organization, its influence, and the needs of the whole community were not factored into the equation. There was an assumption that the hypothesis of good schools, combined with an abundance of attractive housing, would solve the problem. So, $67 million was spent on building and equipping a state-of-the-art high school with amenities usually limited to high-priced, private, college prep schools. This, despite the critical need for a new preschool facility having been very high on the official city list of capital needs for over a decade. [Read more…]

Obama’s visit: Education, manufacturing, a chance to see the president

President Barack Obama at Pellissippi State Community College

President Barack Obama announces a proposal to offer two years of free community college to responsible students during a half-hour speech at Pellissippi State Community College in Hardin Valley on Friday. (Photo by Rob Welton)


Note: This story was last updated at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 15.

HARDIN VALLEY—It was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for some, a chance to shake hands with the president of the United States of America or wave at his heavily guarded motorcade as it passed by on a local roadway.

For others, it was a chance to hear about a presidential proposal modeled after a Tennessee program that would make the first two years of community college free to students who maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average. That proposal, officially announced at Pellissippi State Community College in Hardin Valley on Friday, expands on the 20th century idea that all children in the United States are entitled to a public education. In the 21st century economy, the White House said, 12 years of school is no longer enough.

For a much-smaller group, Friday’s visit by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and his wife Jill Biden offered an opportunity to hear an in-person announcement of a new advanced manufacturing hub, the country’s fifth, that will be led by the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and have Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a founding partner. That announcement at Techmer PM in Clinton was highlighted by a 3-D printed carbon fiber replica of a Shelby Cobra that the president joked about receiving for his birthday. [Read more…]

Now Senate education chair, Alexander announces plan to ‘fix’ No Child Left Behind

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

“During the last six years, this committee has held 24 hearings and reported two bills to the Senate floor to fix the law’s problems. We should be able to finish our work within the first few weeks of 2015 so the full Senate can act.” —Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander has announced a plan to fix the No Child Left Behind law, wrapping up six years of committee work and sending a bill to the Senate floor within the first few weeks of 2015, the senator’s office said Tuesday.

Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, announced his plan on the Senate floor, a press release said.

“No Child Left Behind has become unworkable—and fixing this law, which expired over seven years ago, will be the first item on the agenda for the Senate education committee,” Alexander said. “I look forward to input from all sides on this proposal as we move forward with a bipartisan process that will keep the best portions of the law, while restoring responsibility to states and local communities and ensuring that all 50 million students in our nation’s 100,000 public schools can succeed.” [Read more…]