On Saturday, Rashkis Elementary School in Chapel Hill celebrated its 20th birthday. Students, staff, parents and alumni gathered at the school to celebrate with a carnival that included food trucks, games and a Rashkis museum.
Rashkis opened in Chapel Hill's Meadowmont neighborhood in 2003 due to redistricting needs. The school is named after Mel and Zora Rashkis, Chapel Hill community members who were dedicated in supporting public education.
Michelle Wood, a physical education teacher at Rashkis and a member of the planning committee for the celebration, said they gathered donations so everything at the carnival could be free for attendees, except for the food trucks. Wood added that it was important to the committee that the carnival was free because Rashkis is a Title I school.
Title I schools are part of a federally funded program for schools with high percentages of low-income students to help ensure that all students meet academic achievement standards, according to the Durham Public Schools website. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools had seven Title I schools during the 2020-21 school year — all of which were elementary schools.
“We’ve been very fortunate," Wood said. "We've had really good staff and some good principals, and we just think it would be a good, fun thing to celebrate.”
Wood was on the planning team that worked to open Rashkis in 2003. The school was opened by the late Deshera Mack, the first principal of Rashkis.
Because several schools in the area were overcrowded, Rashkis housed the surplus of students.
“[Mack’s] main thing was that we treat every kid like they were our own, and wanted to treat ones in our community to be like our family," she said. "I think she was very successful doing that.”
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation offered the Deshera Mack Scholarship in 2023 in honor of the former principal. The scholarship awarded $1,000 to one graduating high school student in the community with an interest in pursuing education.