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Teachers usher in year with rally-style revelry

Rock Hill High Principal Judy Mobley, dressed as Cleopatra, is escorted into the Bearcats' gym during the school district's back-to-school celebration Friday. The celebration resembled a pep rally with banners, noisemakers and cheers.
Rock Hill High Principal Judy Mobley, dressed as Cleopatra, is escorted into the Bearcats' gym during the school district's back-to-school celebration Friday. The celebration resembled a pep rally with banners, noisemakers and cheers.

The cheers in the Rock Hill High School gymnasium reached a feverish pitch Friday morning as Principal Judy Mobley, dressed as Cleopatra, was carried in on a couch, with escorts throwing rose petals and fanning her with giant leaves.

So the contest goes on for which principal can make the best entrance during the school district's annual back-to-school staff celebration.

The celebration was much like a pep rally, with teachers donning their school colors, holding banners, banging noisemakers and screaming cheers.

At last year's celebration, Northwestern High School's principal rode in on a motorcycle and the year before South Pointe's entered on a golf cart.

The event is the only time during the year that all of the district's teachers, staff and administrators come together in one place. More than 2,000 people attended.

The celebration was especially sweet for Saundra Booker, who was named the school district's teacher of the year.

Booker teaches special education at Saluda Trail Middle School.

"It's such an honor to represent my district," she said after receiving her award. "Helping these children realize who they are is why we're here."

Booker's classroom is run like the fictional town of Mayberry from "The Andy Griffith Show." Booker is the sheriff and each student has a job, complete with job duties, that they are held responsible for.

"What I try to do is create reality-based programs for my students so they can become responsible adults," she said.

Booker has been teaching for more than 30 years and has been at Saluda Trail since 2002.

She said she has a lasting bond with students that goes beyond being their teacher.

"I'm their mama, their doctor, their psychologist," Booker said. "I become every woman to these children."

Booker won money and a laptop for being teacher of the year.

Travis Bryant, a physical education teacher at Belleview Elementary School, and Michele Bost Fox, a graphics printing technology instructor at the Applied Technology Center, were given the honor of beginning teachers of the year.

In addition to honoring different staff members, the celebration served as an opportunity for Superintendent Lynn Moody to promote the district's goals for the year.

Moody asked everyone in attendance to imagine a school district where everyone worked together, where bus drivers were the last person to encourage students to do homework when they go home, where custodians teach students to do their part to keep schools clean, where cafeterias serve nutritious food in a warm environment and where teachers are focused on engaging every student in achieving the most that they can.

"We can do what we imagine," Moody told the crowd as everyone pinned on buttons with the word "imagine" on them. "Let's dream big and let's achieve."

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