NC Governor’s Wife Visits HOLLA! Center

Kristin Cooper, wife of Gov. Roy Cooper, visited the HOLLA! Center in Morven while on her 100-city tour Sept. 27.

CEO and founder of HOLLA! Leon Gatewood said the center was included because of interest in the organization’s innovative and consistent approach to motivating youth to be successful.

Cooper was welcomed by students of the HOLLA! After School Program, as well as students and officials from the Anson County school system including Deborah Davis and Danielle Hutcherson-Blount.

Davis, director of Secondary Education & Youth Career Connect STEM Academy and Anson Middle School principal, and Hutcherson-Blount were present to share valuable information on HOLLA!’s partnership with the local schools.

After being briefed with information concerning HOLLA!’s involvement with Anson High School’s YCC Program, Anson Middle School and HOLLA!’s Youth Enrichment Program, Cooper was escorted on a tour of the facility.

“This is amazing,” Cooper said.

Gatewood said the children responded to the visit with excitement and curiosity; only hearing snippets of the life of the governor, and were curious about what living in the Governor’s Mansion was like. He added that their curiosity seemed to be of more personal issues, including whether or not the first lady had pets.

“We certainly hope that we made the case that Anson County is full of amazing young people with dreams of being successful just like kids in more affluent areas across our state,” Gatewood said. “We specifically hope that the governor’s office would see the value in forming a partnership with rural communities to keep in tune with the needs of communities like ours with the purpose of assuring that all kids have a fair chance at success.”

HOLLA!, an acronym for Helping Our Loved ones Learn and Achieve, is a North Carolina Community Development Corporation nonprofit organization. The goal of a partnership would be to use HOLLA! as a liaison between the governor’s office and the community to keep informed of resources and services that are available to address the needs of our communities.

Gatewood added that in the perfect partnership, HOLLA! would be the administrator of those services and resources.

“My hope is that through a partnership with the governor’s office, we can more effectively exemplify, support and enhance the first lady’s noble platform of championing initiatives, organizations and people who are working to create a safe, nurturing, healthy environment for children and their families,” Gatewood said.

Peachland-Polkton wins reading challenge

Peachland-Polkton wins reading challenge

HOLLA! officials say the goal of reaching more students is being made possible with the cooperation of the Anson County school system, the hard work of the school principals, teachers and HOLLA!’s “dedicated” volunteers.

The organization’s leaders are optimistic that this year’s collaboration for the HOLLA! 5k Reading Challenge means the future of literacy in the community is bright. The challenge was held in conjunction with the annual HOLLA! 5K Walk/Run into the freedom of literacy.

Lilesville, Morven and Peachland-Polkton elementary schools accepted the call to compete in the challenge, which sought to motivate students to read while recognizing and rewarding the literary achievements of students in the schools’ Accelerated Reading Programs.

Peachland-Polkton Elementary School is the winner of HOLLA!’s school system-wide reading challenge.

As the school with the highest per capita reading score, it also received four full sets of books from the Little Flower series, donated by author and Anson County native Florita Bell-Griffin.

Principal Travis Stegall accepted the accolade during his school’s Awards Day ceremony.

“I am very proud and excited for next year’s challenge,” he said.

Schools were also challenged to encourage students to attend and/or participate in the HOLLA! 5K. Morven Elementary School had the most students to attend, and as a result, received a free, “fully loaded” HOLLA! party which included a DJ, pizza and snow cones for every student.

Individual student winners of the reading challenge were Kirsten Green, Abigail Wilson and Essence Davis, who were awarded for being the top readers at each of the participating schools. Jessica Laney and Ambria Nivens received honorable mentions.

The data used to determine the winners was based on Accelerated Reading Program results and was provided by Morven Elementary School Principal Deonya Pratt, Ansonville Elementary Principal Michael Vetter and Peachland-Polkton Elementary Principal Travis Stegall.

HOLLA! is a 501 c 3 non-profit Community Development Corporation founded in 2005 to address low achievement in the Anson County Schools. The organization operates from a facility located at 229 East Main Street in Morven, NC. For more information call 704.851.3144.

Staff Report


Breakfast by HOLLA! to be permanent

Breakfast by HOLLA! to be permanent

WADESBORO — HOLLA! is planning to permanently serve breakfast Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m.

HOLLA! has been serving breakfast off and on since 2012.

Leon Gatewood said that serving breakfast has always been within the scope and vision of the HOLLA! Center.

The vision was for the center to be a meeting place for people to read books and periodicals, catch up on the local and community news and discuss community issues.

“We initially started serving breakfast as a means to generate revenue to sustain the operations of the center and we now include it as a part of our youth programs,” Gatewood said. “We seldom send our children on a trip without a hot breakfast.”

HOLLA!’s primary source of funding is The United Way of the Central Carolinas. They also recently received a donation from Lanesboro Creek to help serve breakfast to the youth.

“Attendance for breakfast is generally moderate, but sometimes it is booming,” Gatewood said. “We use Facebook, flyers and oral tradition to get the word out.”

Gatewood said they have seen progress in attendance throughout the weeks.

There is a $5 charge for adults to eat breakfast.

Beginning Monday, HOLLA! will provide free breakfast to youth who attend their programs.

Also, at the beginning of the school year, HOLLA! once more will offer the Bus Stop Breakfast.

The meal is free for children who come in time to order breakfast before the bus arrives to pick them up. The menu includes fresh fruit, coffee, hot grits, eggs, omelets, 100 percent juice and various protein.

“We stress moderation and balance in our meals,” Gatewood said.

HOLLA! “hopes to bring awareness to the importance of eating a healthy, moderate breakfast each morning, and will provide breakfast to as many as we can,” Gatewood said.

By Natalie Davis

Staff Reporter