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Alex Richards Named Principal of Fancy Farm Elementary
Ashley Fralicx

Fancy Farm Elementary School will have a new leader when school resumes in August.  Mr. Alex Richards, current educator at GCHS, has been named Principal and will begin his new role on July 1.

“I am honored to have been selected for this position. I appreciate the confidence that Mr. Madding and the FFES SBDM have placed in me. I am eager to get to work and serve the students at FFES.”

Mr. Richards is a 2012 graduate of Hickman County High School.  After graduation, he continued his education at Murray State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish Education.  In 2020, he completed a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership:Principal Level 1. Down each educational path, Richards was able to gain a deeper understanding on the many facets of an educator, and how to relate to his students on a level that elicits success in the classroom.

Richards, fresh out of college, began his teaching career at Graves County Middle School teaching 7th and 8th grade Spanish.  One year later he settled into his career at the high school level. Currently the Fine Arts Department Chair, he also has devoted his time to sitting on the SBDM as Vice-Chair from 2020-2023, the District Leadership Team, New Teacher Mentor Program Instructional Coach, and the Climate, Culture, & Expectations Committee Chair. 

As he settled in, his confidence began to grow and there was a shift in his perspective when he was able to see his efforts come full circle in the lives of his students. “I think I found my passion in the 3rd or 4th year of teaching.  I had adjusted to my role and gotten through those first couple of years of "learning the ropes."  I really was able to see the fruits of my labor when students would graduate and go on to accomplish their goals and dreams after high school.  It was amazing to know that I had a small part in their stories.  It really made me realize the impact that I had. It was then that teaching became a calling rather than a job or position.”

During his career, there have been many who have played influential roles.  However, Richards narrows it to three ladies who have displayed the true essence of an educator, and therefore inspire him to reach a little higher each day. 

“I have been blessed to work under a number of exceptional administrators.  Mrs. Alison Gregory took me under her wing, pushed me, and grew me as a teacher and leader.  Even with this process, she has provided insight and wisdom.  Mrs. Sarah Wright has been my evaluating administrator for the last 6 years.  She has pushed and developed me as a teacher and not just told me what to do but coached me and helped me spread my wings as an educator and leader.  Mrs. Janet has been my principal for the last two years.  She has shown me what it is to be a servant-leader and to love kids.  I know I have big shoes to fill following in her legacy and all of the other administrators that have poured into FFES over the years. However, I think it will be unique to carry these attributes from all of my mentors in embarking on continuing the tradition that FFES is known across the district and state for.”

When he is not in the classroom, Richards devotes a large amount of time to serving in his church.  Once again, you will find him with students as he is the Youth Director at Beulah Baptist Church.  He also enjoys sports, working out and spending summer days at the lake.  

As the upcoming school year approaches, Richards looks forward to new beginnings and serving in a place known for its tight-knit community, hospitality and traditions. “My 3 core values are building relationships/cultivating community, empowering learning, and clearly communicating.  My goal is to continue the tradition of academic excellence for which FFES is known for while also making our school a place where all stakeholders- students, families, faculty/staff, and community are invested in and collectively working toward the success of all students. We want to ensure that we are providing them with the academic, social, and personal skills to be successful in middle and high school and beyond to college or career.”

 We would like to extend an invitation to the community to join us for a welcoming reception in honor of Mr. Richards at Fancy Farm Elementary School on Wednesday, May 22 at 5:30PM.

Congratulations and welcome to Fancy Farm, Mr. Alex Richards!


 

  • Central Elementary
  • Fancy Farm Elementary
  • Farmington Elementary
  • Graves County High School
  • Graves County Middle School
  • Sedalia Elementary
  • Symsonia Elementary
  • Wingo Elementary
Shelby Named First District KMEA Middle School Music Teacher of the Year
Ashley Fralicx

“I have always loved music. When I was in 8th grade band, my director, Beth Stribling encouraged me to try out for All-District band, and I made it. That experience was what really sealed the deal for me.”

Ellis Shelby’s love for music spilled over to her students and caught the attention of others as she was named First District KMEA Middle School Music Teacher of the Year!

An educator for 22 years, Shelby has been serving since 2006 in the Graves County School district.  During her time, she took on roles such as elementary band director, assistant to the middle and high school directors, before taking the head director of the elementary and middle school bands in 2019.  

Shelby has vivid memories of music always being a part of her childhood and therefore planting the seed for her. “My dad was very musical.  He was always singing and playing guitar.” However, it was music that offered a place of peace for her as she made the transition from Kentucky to North Carolina.  “I moved to Kentucky from North Carolina in the 7th grade.  They really made me feel welcome in the band. I felt like I had a place where I belonged.”

As she continued her own career, there were certainly those that were very influential in growing her passion.  “John Fannin, the former Assistant Director of Bands at Murray State, was one of the biggest influences on me. He is one of the most energetic and positive people I know. His focus was always on helping kids through music and that really connected with me and made me want to do the same thing.”

Nominated by GC High School Band Director Richard Burchett, Shelby explains just what it means to receive the award. “ Mr. Burchett is an outstanding educator and I am so lucky to co-teach with him every day.  We have so many great music teachers in our district, so being recognized by those I admire is a huge honor.”

While Shelby loves many different genres of music, jam bands and any sort of jazz are her favorites.  Her expertise is the saxophone, but she is able to play all the band instruments needed for instructional purposes. As an instructor, Shelby challenges all of her students to work towards the same goal.

“I always tell my students their job is to be better than me at their instrument by 8th grade.”

Congratulations, Ellis Shelby!   


 

  • Central Elementary
  • Fancy Farm Elementary
  • Farmington Elementary
  • Graves County High School
  • Graves County Middle School
  • Sedalia Elementary
  • Symsonia Elementary
  • Wingo Elementary
Wingo Indian Alumni Remembers His Roots
Ashley Fralicx

 

It was an ordinary day at Wingo Elementary School.  They say that is when the extraordinary usually happens…and it did that day.  As on any normal day, the mail was sifted and sorted…but today’s packages were anything but typical.  A blast from the past…a nod to the good old days…a treasure from the school’s history…1957 graduate Claude Perry’s letterman jacket complete with a photo of the Wingo Indians Varsity Basketball team was received in the mail.

“I thought the younger children seeing it might be encouraged.  Wingo was my home,” expressed Perry. Mr. Perry felt that it was important to give back to a community that gave so much to him. “Wingo was full of people that I enjoyed.  The teachers…Ms. Jayne Waggoner, Ms. Ethel Williams, and Mr. Edward Oakley all made a great impact on me as well as others.  Our food was always delicious and the building was always very clean.  They took great pride in taking care of us each day.”  

Mr. Perry was a 1957 graduate of what was then called Wingo High School.  He enjoyed playing basketball and baseball during his time as an Indian.  After graduation, he attended Murray State and received a Bachelors of Science degree.  For 39 years, he was employed by Good Year as a Chemical Engineer.

Clearly, he is fond of the years he spent as a Wingo Indian. When asked what one of his favorite memories was, he had no trouble recalling a moment that had stuck with him.  “When I was in junior high, the high school team went to a Paducah tournament during the Christmas season…and they won it!”

As graduation approaches for our current seniors, the future awaits.  The journey is just beginning and there will be successes, failures, triumph and defeat.  However, while some days seem to be a constant uphill battle…the climb is what defines and shapes who you become.  Mr. Perry offered some advice to graduates. “Work hard.  The job may not always be easy, but always be sincere in the work that you do.”

SENIORS…Mr. Perry teaches a valuable lesson to us all.  No matter where life leads you, always remember where your journey began!

Currently, Mr. Perry resides in Nashville, TN where he can be closer to his family.

Thank you for giving back to Graves County Schools!

#GDTBAE

  • Central Elementary
  • Fancy Farm Elementary
  • Farmington Elementary
  • Graves County High School
  • Graves County Middle School
  • Sedalia Elementary
  • Symsonia Elementary
  • Wingo Elementary
Darnall’s Love For the Arts Paves The Way for GSA
Ashley Fralicx

 

They say that sometimes music is the only medicine for the heart and soul.  Dalton Darnall would surely agree.  His musical journey led him down the road leading straight to the Governor’s School of Arts.

The Governor’s School of Arts is a three-week intensive summer arts program hosted on the campus of the University of Kentucky.  Students live on campus and engage in daily seminars, master classes, lectures, hands-on activities, workshops and field trips. Dalton Darnall was accepted for his exceptional ability in instrumental music.

While he picked up the trumpet for the first time in the 5th grade, Darnall says his love for playing really enhanced over this past year. “I first developed a love for listening to music when I was young listening to hymns at church, and I learned a love for playing just last year when I started doing jazz band,” Darnall explains.

Obviously, the program helps knock off some of the expense that comes with college tuition, but Darnall insists that applying really was about challenging himself. “I wanted to test myself against musicians all across the state.

Preparations began in September with his first audition being in January.  Darnall had to submit a scales video and a solo video alongside a short essay and interview.  As it turns out, he passed his personal test with flying colors. 

Trumpet is where his expertise lies, but as he develops a stronger interest, Darnall also dabbles in playing the piano…something he attributes to his grandmother. “One of the biggest inspirations I have is my grandmother. She plays piano and some guitar, but mostly her character and approach to life inspire me.”

As for the future, he plans to follow in the footsteps of his band director, Richard Burchett, and lend his talents to high school students.  It is under his direction and events such as Murray State’s Band Camp that boosted his musicianship.

Congratulations, Dalton!   

  • Central Elementary
  • Fancy Farm Elementary
  • Farmington Elementary
  • Graves County High School
  • Graves County Middle School
  • Sedalia Elementary
  • Symsonia Elementary
  • Wingo Elementary
Rogers Closes Out Her 500th Strikeout
Ashley Fralicx

Anna Rogers is proof that hard work and perseverance always wins.  As what will no doubt be one of the major highlights of her senior year, Rogers managed to make her last season as a Lady Eagle her best with striking out her 500th batter. However, there was a time that being on the mound seemed impossible.

“This goal was a huge accomplishment for me. When I was younger, I didn’t make the middle school team, so now that I have reached 500 strikeouts, it just proves that with hard work, I can accomplish anything,” expressed Rogers.

As a 10 year old girl, Anna began her softball career.  Throughout the years, there have been ups and downs, and those moments where sacrifice was critical. Often attending additional pitching lessons throughout the week to craft her skill, Anna credits those in her corner as the motivation to continue on. The support of those in the stands, her parents, and those in the dugout, her team, have ultimately been the driving force behind her success.  

“My parents are my biggest inspiration. I have watched them work hard my entire life, and they have instilled that in me.  My team also inspires me to work hard so I do not let them down.”

With time quickly passing by, the senior looks back on her time at GC and reflects on those moments that she will carry with her.  “My favorite memory from high school has to be when we have an away game and we ride the bus. We talk and sing. We really just get the time to bond and get to know one another.  Our team is a very close group of girls.”

At the beginning of the year, Rogers set out to achieve two goals. She wanted a softball scholarship…check… and to strikeout more batters than her previous year…check.  As she prepares to continue her softball career with Freed-Hardeman University, Rogers insists that the mound serves as a platform far beyond the world of softball. “I play for Him. He gave me the ability to play, and I want to play for Him.” 

Congratulations Anna Rogers and Good Luck in the future!

#GDTBAE







 

  • Central Elementary
  • Fancy Farm Elementary
  • Farmington Elementary
  • Graves County High School
  • Graves County Middle School
  • Sedalia Elementary
  • Symsonia Elementary
  • Wingo Elementary
Five GC Students Accepted to Commonwealth Honors Academy
Ashley Fralicx

We would like to congratulate 5 GCHS Juniors for being accepted to the Commonwealth Honors Academy. Lily Gossum, Caleb Jackson, Audrey Smith, Nora Wiggins, and Sadie Youngblood will become temporary Racers this summer as they embark on a journey that provides a glimpse into the college life.

Commonwealth Honors Academy is a three-week academic enrichment summer program at Murray State University. Students live on campus, take college-level honors classes, and participate in fun activities that help them grow personally and socially. Students learn to navigate college life while earning 6 hours of college credit.

Those who complete the program and choose MSU after graduation, are awarded full tuition if they have a 3.5 or higher school GPA and at least a 25 on the ACT.

Congratulations to these GC students!

#GDTBAE

  • Central Elementary
  • Fancy Farm Elementary
  • Farmington Elementary
  • Graves County High School
  • Graves County Middle School
  • Sedalia Elementary
  • Symsonia Elementary
  • Wingo Elementary
Kluemper Lands in 3rd Place At Powerlifting Nationals
Ashley Fralicx

Attitude.  One little old word…great big impact.  Gracie Kluemper, 3rd place winner in the Powerlifting Nationals competition couldn’t agree more.

“I think the thing I take away most from this sport is the attitude that is needed for it.  You always have to have determination while powerlifting and I think you need determination for everything you do no matter what it is,” expressed Kluemper.

Playing multiple sports throughout her childhood, Gracie couldn’t quite ever find her niche.  Softball…soccer…it just didn’t fulfill that void she had when it came to finding her passion.  When her mother signed her up for powerlifting, Kluemper explains she was hesitant.

“When my mom signed me up for the club, I was afraid it would be the same situation as previous extra-curricular activities I had tried.  But, as it turns out, I love it.  The people that are in my club and my coaches are amazing, fun people who make me love it.  Basically the whole lifting environment is amazing.”

Being around the gym her whole life, it was easy to feel at ease and at home.  However, that doesn’t mean she didn’t have her work cut out for her.  “When I first started, I worked out 2 days a week.  After a year, my coach and I had a very important talk about how serious I was in the sport. Competing at more official competitions meant more workouts a week.”

With clear goals in mind, Kluemper set out on her journey, and is proud of how far she has come.  However, there is still plenty more she plans to accomplish within the sport.  “My main goal as of right now is dropping a weight class. I think losing some weight would make me feel better and allow me to compete with girls who can lift more weight.  I would also like to compete at high school nationals again next year hopefully in a lower weight class which would be a bit more of a competition which I think would be fun.”

Getting there may not be easy, but Gracie insists that she has the support and drive that she needs behind her.  “My inspirations are my coach and my mother because they always believe in me and what I am doing.”

With lofty goals for the upcoming season, mindset always plays a key role in the success of any athlete.  Kluemper explains what she tells herself and would tell any athlete striving to meet goals. “Being consistent is key, but you also have to have the mindset that you can do it no matter how heavy the bar is.  Mindset can make or break you.”

Congratulations, Gracie! 

 

  • Central Elementary
  • Fancy Farm Elementary
  • Farmington Elementary
  • Graves County High School
  • Graves County Middle School
  • Sedalia Elementary
  • Symsonia Elementary
  • Wingo Elementary
GC Students Prove To Have a Green Thumb
Ashley Fralicx

 

“Currently, we have 33 different species of plants in our greenhouse, but over 100 varieties! Some of our most popular plants are ferns, Wandering Jews, Begonias, and Geraniums!”

Under the supervision of Ms.Grace Perdue, over 50 students maintain the GCHS Greenhouse.  After passing Agriscience, students are permitted to sign up for Intro to Greenhouse and the experience of working in the greenhouse begins.  Climbing the ladder, next students advance to Greenhouse Technology, and finally in their senior year are eligible to apply for the Horticulture Enterprise Class which is a school-based internship.  

Care for the greenhouse is no small task.  As the sale season concludes, the preparations for the following year immediately begin. Grace Perdue explains the process throughout the year that takes place to keep the greenhouse running efficiently.

“Preparations start for the next season right after the sale ends! Students help to sanitize pots and trays, reorganize our headhouse, and other facility maintenance as required before the school year ends.  Over the summer, I will double-check inventory status and place orders, and also contact our distributors to order ferns and plant plugs.  I also perform routing IPM strategies to remove invasive plants and pests in the greenhouse while students and customers are absent.  Once fall semester starts, my Greenhouse Technology Class  will begin by cooling off the greenhouse, and performing maintenance as needed for plumbing and structural repairs.By October, our ferns will arrive and students will start transplanting. They will also propagate our wandering Jews and spider plants at this time as well. Students are then responsible for calculating fertilizer needs and watering these plants as needed. By January, students begin to germinate seeds in the greenhouse for tomato, pepper, marigold, and zinnia plants. Spring plant plugs begin to arrive by the end of January, and then it is all hands on deck until the end of the spring sale!”

Clearly, it is a full-time, year round venture.  However, Perdue insists that the hands-on experience and knowledge her students gain makes every minute completely worth it.  

“ Anyone can just get an education from a textbook, but learning happens when students can experience it. Through the greenhouse students receive hands-on experiences in plumbing, electricity, construction, germination, propagation, plant care, marketing, sales… and the list goes on. The greenhouse gives the students experiences they could never get through a standard textbook and contains classroom experience!”

In addition the greenhouse offers financial possibilities for the agriculture department as a whole.  The profits collected from the sales of the greenhouse are funneled back through the department which allows for the purchase of classroom materials, labs, updated technology and opportunities for FFA members.  

“This ensures the viability of our greenhouse enterprise for years to come. Ensuring more students can receive this amazing school-based enterprise education.”

While the greenhouse is thriving and the number of students applying for the classes continues to grow, Perdue insists that there is always room for growth and improvement. 

“Currently, I am in the process of updating our irrigation systems in both greenhouses. In the larger greenhouse, we are moving towards an automatic irrigation system, and in the small greenhouse we are adding hanging basket drips to cut the watering time in half!”

In terms of her students, the goals are simple. “I hope they learn new skills that make them confident in their entrepreneurial enterprises. Whether that be owning a greenhouse or nursery, florist shop, landscape enterprise, electrical company, or more. I know many of my students will be capable of owning and operating a business here in Graves County, benefiting our local economy!  I want my students to become self-sustainable and hard workers, no matter what career they choose.” 

Great job to Ms. Perdue and her students!

 

  

  • Central Elementary
  • Fancy Farm Elementary
  • Farmington Elementary
  • Graves County High School
  • Graves County Middle School
  • Sedalia Elementary
  • Symsonia Elementary
  • Wingo Elementary
A Divine Nine Destined for Governor’s Scholars Program
Ashley Fralicx

For the second time in the school’s history, every GCHS student that applied for the prestigious Governor’s Scholars Program was accepted.  Makenna Braden, Lydia Bradley, Jordan Coles, Lily Gossum, Krystina Kelly, Bhavik Patel, Josie Redded, Levi Whitaker, and Braden Woodward each received the good news last week with acceptance letters.

Governor’s Scholars Program is a five-week summer program that current juniors apply for and attend the summer preceding their senior year of high school.  According to the website, its mission is to enhance Kentucky’s next generation of civic and economic leaders.  During the five week study, students reside on one of three college campuses…Centre College, Morehead State University, or Murray State University.  As they attend classes, students also participate in field trips, group activities, and special events that are designed to cultivate learning and leadership.  The experience allows students to have a glimpse of what the life of a college student entails.  

The process of applying to GSP is one that involves several steps.  Each applicant completed an application with a list of their honors/awards, community service, extra-curricular activities, hobbies/interests, and more.  In addition, they also are required to submit one teacher recommendation and one community recommendation.  Guidance counselors complete an official form including ACT scores, GPA and transcript information.  Students also compose a 500-word essay that is submitted along with their application to the district committee.  Those individuals scored those blindly and only the top 9 were forwarded to the state committee to be scored.  While the number of applicants GC can submit fluctuates from year to year due to the formula the state requires the school to use, GC was able to submit 9 this year.

With a grueling process under her belt, current junior, Josie Redden explains why GSP is so important to her. “GSP is important to me because of the opportunities it brings and how hard I have worked to be selected.The program gives me the ability to learn in areas I wouldn’t have had the chance to and will finance my tuition.  After high school, I plan to attend the University of Kentucky and study nursing.”

While we are extremely proud of each of these students, we also would like to take the opportunity to extend a congratulations to our educators who are equipping young adults for prestigious honors such as GSP.  Redden expressed her gratitude, “It’s hard to pick just one teacher to attribute my high school success to.  Ms. McKee and Ms. Hays have always pushed me and encouraged me in all things I do.”

Congratulations to all NINE of our GSP recipients. We are so proud of you!

#GDTBAE


 

  • Central Elementary
  • Fancy Farm Elementary
  • Farmington Elementary
  • Graves County High School
  • Graves County Middle School
  • Sedalia Elementary
  • Symsonia Elementary
  • Wingo Elementary
When Big Ideas Produce Big Opportunities
Ashley Fralicx

“About 3 years ago, Ms. Perdue and I were talking about our long-term goals for the ag program.  We ended up making a “Big Ideas” poster that she keeps in her classroom of all the big things we wanted to try and international trips made their way onto that list.”

Abby Lyell, GCHS Agriculture teacher, explains how she ended up with a group of Ag students in Ireland on Spring Break. After receiving an email from the FFA State Executive Secretary about possible EF tours, Lyell immediately reached out and connected with an EF tour consultant and before she knew it, they were enrolling students on tour!

“I like to tell people that I ‘accidentally’ planned a student trip to Ireland, but really, I took a leap of faith on a goal I had for our program, and was fortunate enough that it worked out really, really well.”  

Twelves students, 1 parent, and 2 chaperones embarked on the trip of a lifetime.  With an experience that Lyell refers to as “Life-changing,” the group took in all the lush, ag enriched country Ireland had to offer.  They toured Dublin, Kilkenny, the Irish National Stud Farm and Gardens, Cairn and Tramor, Tipperary, Wheelock’s Fruit and Farm, Redmond’s Beef Farm, Glengowla Sheep Farm, and even the Dublin Zoo!  While there were similarities in Irish agriculture, there seemed to also be major differences.

“Irish agriculture is more modest than American agriculture. Obviously, the United States is much larger, and so is the size of the average American farm, but in Ireland, large scale for a cattle farm would be 200 head of cattle. In terms of equipment, I don’t think we saw a new piece of agricultural equipment the entire time we were there. Irish farmers are very proud of their work, and they should be. The outcomes of the operations we saw were extremely impressive.”

With a large focus on land stewardship, the Irish farmers focus on the design to improve land for future generations.  This and so many other foundational concepts provided the rich education that this group of students experienced on this trip.  While the educational value in some ways can not be measured, Ms. Lyell’s main hope was that students would gain an understanding of agriculture in an area that is foreign to them.

“The educational objective of the Ag in Ireland Tour was to expose our students to the world of agriculture outside of Graves County. While we live in one of the most agriculturally productive communities in the state, we want our students to understand that  agriculture is much more vast than is represented in our small corner of Kentucky. Through this tour, students had the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the world around them, grow more confident and independent, understand new people, places and cultures, and discover more about themselves.”

From a student’s perspective, the opportunity was a once in a lifetime opportunity that will go down as one of their greatest memories in high school.  Mikinri Moore, GCHS ag student reflects on her experience. “This trip has contributed to my future in many different ways. It changed my mindset. I used to think that everywhere looked like Kentucky and that is far from the truth.  It opened my eyes to new and different beginnings in terms of what I want to do with my future career.  This was an opportunity of a lifetime, and it’s amazing how our sponsors and alumni care and support us in all that we do.”

From witnessing her students interacting and engaging with others on the tour, to the breathtaking sights…Lyell can definitively say that this trip has ignited a passion for her.  A 2026 tour is already in the works!   Until then, GCHS students are encouraged to inquire about the Italy and France Food for Farming Tour taking place in June 2025.  There are spots still available!

One day…one “Big Ideas” board…one educator with big goals…that’s all it takes to change the lives of  students.

#GDTBAE 

 

  • Central Elementary
  • Fancy Farm Elementary
  • Farmington Elementary
  • Graves County High School
  • Graves County Middle School
  • Sedalia Elementary
  • Symsonia Elementary
  • Wingo Elementary