Superintendent's Blog

Superintendent's Blog - Reflection: Kids, Bullying, and Suicide

Posted 3/2/2018

Reflection:  Kids, Bullying, and Suicide

Parents and patrons of our school district...

I know this is long, but please bear with me.  

We have had several social media postings recently focused on the very unfortunate fact that we are a community that deals with bullying and suicide. I try to avoid responding on social media since it is a ‘no win’ situation.  People believe what they want to believe and debating via social media will not change that.  I do find the need to share my perspective on these two issues because I’m passionate about the subjects.  I’m just the same as other educators that hurt deeply when we hear that children have hurt themselves in some way.  We hurt when we hear about a child not wanting to attend school because someone makes fun of them or calls them names.  I now stay in a constant state of stress worried that this may be the day that I’m notified that one of our students has taken their own life.  

We have been accused most recently of ignoring the fact that suicide is real and it happens in our district.  We have dealt with it enough to know that it is real, and we work with kids every day that are going through challenges.  We succeed with helping through difficult times in most cases, but you never read about those on Facebook.  The fact of the matter is that youth suicide is frightening not only in our community and school district, but across the nation. 

-Suicides are the 3rd leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds, following accidental death and homicide.

-Suicides are the 4th leading cause of death for 10-14 year olds.

-19.3 percent of high school students have seriously considered killing themselves.

-14.5 percent of high school students have made actual plans for committing suicide.

-900,000 youth planned their episodes during an episode of major depression.  

As an adult, we often think “what could be that terrible to drive a teen to end their life when so much lies ahead of them?” Keep in mind that a teen's brain is not fully developed, and as any parent with a teen knows, teenagers are often impulsive with little thought of the true consequences of their actions.

It’s also important to note that 90% of young people that die by suicide either have been or are currently receiving support for depression or some other mental health issue.  It’s imperative to know this to prevent youth suicide.  

I would ask our parents and community members to keep in mind that when we lose a child to suicide, please be thoughtful in your postings not to immediately blame ‘bullying’ as the cause.  

Why?  The reality of the situation is that everyone may be bullied at some time.  Bullying happened when I was a young person and I have to believe that it will still be a challenge long after my career in education is over.  I’m worried that we are exacerbating the perception among our young people that if you are bullied, then the thought that suicide is the way to deal with it has become the norm. 

We need to be mindful that while persistent bullying could be a factor in youth suicide, consider the challenges of depression, anxiety, confusion, and the feeling that life is not worth living.  An event such as a break up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, substance abuse, or failure at school may lead to suicide.

Suicide is a very complex issue. There are no easy answers. For more information on youth suicide and how we can work together to address this challenge, please visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, at www.AFSP.org.

As a school district, and personally, we are blamed most often on social media for ignoring bullying or ‘sweeping it under the rug’.  We have a challenge in the fact that everything is now bullying.  We have a child call another child a name and that’s now bullying.  We have a child arguing with another child about a swing and that’s bullying.  Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.  

Let me make this very clear, we have bullying in the Cabot School District, and we acknowledge that it’s a huge challenge to manage.  I’ve read recent postings about ‘kids going to homeschool or other districts because of bullying.’  That’s absolutely true.  It’s also absolutely true that we have kids return from homeschooling because they miss the interaction with other kids, and we have kids come from other districts because of bullying.  It’s not an issue unique to our community or school district, but we seem to want to focus on blame instead of solutions.  

If you are one of those that have posted about how you’ve dealt with bullying and nothing was done about it, my question to you would be what have you done about it?  If you have a child in school and you believe they are being bullied, I would do whatever necessary to make sure the issue was addressed.  If you have to take issues to the district office because you are frustrated with how something is being addressed, then so be it.  I never get upset when a parent comes to me with an issue because they are frustrated at how it was handled by a school.  I get more upset when someone shares an issue that I would have really liked the opportunity to help with but was never given an opportunity. 

The fact of the matter is that we deal with issues that are either called bullying or are actual instances of bullying on a daily basis.  Now, you’d think from reading the postings that we do nothing about it, but there are only certain ways we can discipline students at school. I can provide examples on how each form of punishment has been used very recently to deal with bullying and similar issues.

Another challenge with discipline and student management is the fact that we cannot share consequences for behaviors with anyone other than the students’ parent or guardian.   We are not going to discuss your child’s discipline with anyone other than you.  This is often misinterpreted as nothing was done to the other student.  

The fact of the matter is that we have become a society that we can say anything to or about someone else and not be held accountable.  It’s incredible at times to see how adults interact with each other via social media while expecting our young people not to model that same behavior.   

I’ve always had the attitude that if kids came to school with a good attitude, were respectful to adults and one another, and worked hard, we were headed down a good road.  I could care less about how much money their parents had, what kind of clothes they wore, or the color of their hair.  I truly believe that the only way we can truly get bullying under control is for the adults to diligently instill this mindset in our young people.  That starts with all of us modeling kindness and tolerance, and it takes the school working hand-in-hand with our parents and community members.  Basically, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all and move on. 

Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman


Superintendent's Blog: What About That Second High School?

Posted 5/8/2017

The Cabot School District is extremely fortunate to have amazing teachers, students, faculty, staff, programs, and facilities. As one of the top-rated districts in Arkansas, the opportunities we’re able to provide our students from pre-kindergarten through high school are endless. 

Throughout the years, we’ve experienced tremendous growth. The Cabot School District is the seventh largest in the state, with more than 10,000 students. Families want to be part of our district. However, a large number of students can sometimes bring up concerns, especially from parents.

Recently, the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) released its 2018 reclassification numbers. The numbers are based on a three-year average enrollment of every high school in the state. In 7A, Cabot High School is the third largest in the state with an enrollment of 2,373 students. Springdale (2,413) is the largest and Springdale Har-Ber is second (2,402). Conway comes in fourth with a three-year average enrollment of 2,134. These numbers have once again sparked conversations and questions I’m often asked, including, “When are we going to build a second high school?”

Conway, Cabot, and Bryant are the largest districts in central Arkansas that have one high school. Fayetteville is the largest Northwest Arkansas district with one high school. Recently, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville have split into two high schools each. There are several challenges brought forward in a community when the flagship high school is split into two. 

It can be a major challenge and an emotionally charged project for a community since it has the potential to upset parents, students, teachers, and community members. There are many questions, including:

What about zoning?

What students will go where? 

Will that create dissention?

Will juniors and seniors be allowed to graduate from their current school or will they be moved to the new high school immediately? 

Is it possible to create two totally equal high schools?

Would a split help or hurt a student’s education?

Would it split the community?

Can it be accomplished without the perception that one school is for the “haves” and the other is for the “have-nots?” 

Unless you build two new schools at the same time, one will inevitably be the “old” school. Someone has to go to the “old” school and that starts the challenge of equality.

Keep in mind too, when you build a new high school, you’re starting from the ground up. Everything your original school has, your new school needs, from band, football, basketball, cheer, dance, fine arts, theatre, career-technical classes, advanced placement classes, etc. 

What about a new mascot? Would the new school still be called the Cabot Panthers? Often, the new school gets a new name and a new identity. Will we share Panther Stadium, Panther Arena, and Panther Fields?

Imagine dividing the staff, which teachers would go where?  You can’t make the next school significantly or physically better, or you’re going to create a lot of animosity.

As I mentioned above, in terms of numbers, right now Cabot High School has an enrollment of 2,373. Keep in mind though, this includes over 200 high school students enrolled at the Academic Center of Excellence (ACE) and ACE-North. They are included since they can enroll in activities at CHS. The high school campus has a capacity of 2,600 students according to the state facilities division, so it was planned with plenty of growth space. 

If we were to take the combined enrollments of CHS, ACE, and ACE-North (2,373) and split those today, it would give us two high schools of 1,186 students. Remember though, 1,186 includes ACE students, so the total number of students physically at CHS could be significantly less. ACE has a maximum capacity of 500 students.

To put this in perspective using the current enrollments released this week:

Springdale High School

2,413

Springdale Har-Ber High School

2,402

Bentonville High School

1,973

Bentonville West High School

1,572

Rogers High School

1,781

Rogers Heritage High School

1,679

Cabot High School 1

1,186 Minus ACE Students

Cabot High School 2

1,186 Minus ACE Students

Conway High School (1 HS)

2,134

Bryant High School (1 HS)

2,087


In fact, if we were to split CHS today, we would be classified as two Class 6A high schools

When using our K-12 enrollment and considering the three largest classes that will ever be at CHS in one year, based on those numbers that will be the year 2019-2020. If every student enrolled today in those grades were to remain in the district, though we typically have students drop as they get older, we would have 2,513 students attending CHS, ACE, and ACE-North. After 2020, those numbers will decrease based on current enrollment. 

Now, I understand that some kids do better in a smaller environment. That's why we developed the ACE and ACE-North programs. The award-winning charter school provides the same opportunities, but in an academic setting that is much smaller. If you have a student moving toward CHS and are worried they will not do well with the size, I highly encourage you to visit the ACE and ACE-North programs to find out what it is all about. In fact, ACE was recently named the National Charter School of the Year, and we host districts from everywhere that want to duplicate the program. It's worth checking out! If you would like me to help schedule a tour of the schools, just message me or contact them directly at 501-743-3520.

Finally, I understand the downside of being in a large district. I also know there are many positives due to the academic, career-technical, fine arts, and activity programs that can be provided. Most kids do great in the environment because they find that niche and peer group that fits them, and more often than not, it’s the parents that are more stressed about the size of the school than the kids. 

As always, our Cabot School Board and administration will continue to monitor student enrollment and do what’s best for our kids.


Superintendent’s Blog: Your Photo Fate

Posted 10/12/2016

We are having an increased problem in the Cabot School District with students sending and posting inappropriate pictures and images of themselves. This is not only a Cabot issue, it’s everywhere. It’s a problem in every school, every city, and in every state.

Do you really know what your children are doing online? When was the last time you looked through your child’s phone? If someone sent them a message asking for an inappropriate picture, would they push send? You may be surprised. Please take time to watch this important video, Your Photo Fate,” with your child.

In the video, you see a girl deciding on her “photo fate.” However, this is not just a girl problem. We’re seeing even more issues with boys sending and posting inappropriate pictures online. Kids are even being set up. They think they’re sending pictures to a supposed trusted friend, when in fact, that person is not a friend at all. 

Teens also need to realize both the sender and receiver could face serious consequences. Those private photos could and probably will resurface online. If they do, they never go away. They may even land the teens on a sex offender list. Being labeled a sex offender never goes away either. Parents need to make sure their teens truly understand that.

Please talk with them about what’s appropriate and not appropriate to post online, including illegal or inappropriate behavior, offensive language, threats of violence, underage drinking, drug use and hate speech.

Posting these things could damage their reputation at school, in the workplace or among their friends. They may be punished at school if what they post breaks school rules, be charged with a crime if they’re breaking a law or even hurt their chances of getting into college, getting a scholarship, or getting a job in the future.

Are you familiar with KiK, YikYak, Ask.fm, HiCalculator or Snapchat?  If you’re a parent and you don’t know, you may want to read up on some of these popular new social media apps kids are using. Technology is constantly changing. There are even apps that allow users to hide photos, videos, and messages.

Are you familiar with Finstagram or Finsta? It’s not an app; it’s a fake Instagram account. Kids can use it to trick their parents. They have them follow them on Instagram, but in reality they have a second “true” account where they post silly pictures and videos with a smaller circle of friends.

Remind your child even if they have a secret account under a fake name, everything is public. Any photo or video is out of their control the moment they post it. So called friends can still take screenshots of the pictures and post online for all to see.

While you don’t need to know all the ins and outs about apps and social media, knowing the basics including, what they are, why they’re popular, and what problems they could cause if not used responsibly, is extremely important.  


Day 5: First Week of School

Posted 8/19/2016

We have had a great first week in the Cabot School District! 

The credit for the successful week goes not only to our faculty, staff and students, but to parents and our community.

Thanks for your patience as you've waited in drop-off and pick-up lines. 

Thanks for your patience as we've added bus routes and changed bus stops. 

If there are any concerns with transportation that have not been addressed, let us know as soon as possible. Our transportation department can be reached directly at 501-743-3531.

If there is ever a classroom concern, contact the teacher immediately.  If there is a school concern, contact a building administrator immediately.  If you are not pleased with how the teacher or school addressed any concern, let me know immediately. 

Please keep in mind that while social media is a great way to network and share information and ideas, if you have a question or concern, please give us an opportunity to answer the question or address the concern. 

I can be reached by phone at 501-843-3363, email tony.thurman@cps.k12.ar.us, or use the message template on the Superintendent’s page.

Have a great weekend!  Dr. Thurman  


New Supt. Blog: Dr. Thurman's First Day of School Message

Posted 8/14/2016

Good Sunday afternoon, this is Dr. Thurman, and I want to let you know how excited we are to welcome students back to school tomorrow morning.  

The beginning of school is also the return of school traffic.  It often takes a few days for school car rider lines to flow efficiently, so we would really appreciate your extreme patience when dropping off or picking up your child this week.  For students who ride the bus, please be at your bus stop at least 10 minutes before your scheduled pick up time Monday.  Parents, please remember that during the first week, afternoon buses can run up to 45 minutes late as students learn the procedures and routes. 

Transportation can be confusing for students on the first day of school, especially younger children.  Many parents like to drop off their child on the first day, but your child may not know how they will be getting home.  Please make sure you communicate to your student and school on whether they will be a car rider or bus rider on Monday afternoon.  

A transportation call center will be open to address any bus concerns beginning Monday afternoon through Thursday of this week.  The center will open at 3 p.m. each day and can be accessed by calling 501-743-3531. 

The Cabot School District now has a new online way for parents to apply for free and reduced priced meals. The information is on our district website and paper applications can be picked up in your student's school office. If you were receiving free or reduced price meals last year, it will be necessary to reapply for the new school year.  If you need assistance call at 843-3363 and ask for Food Service.

If you have a smart phone, please remember to download the Cabot Public Schools app.  This will keep you up to date on announcements, events, and you can even check your student’s grades.  

The Home Access Center will be available to parent this year to provide you with up to date information regarding grades, upcoming assignments and attendance.  Your login and password are the same as they were last school year.  If you are new to the district or you have forgotten your information, please contact your child’s school after Tuesday of this week and we’ll be glad to help.  

The safety and well-being of your children and our students is our number one priority.  Please understand that we will ask for identification if you need to check your child out during the day.  Students will not be allowed to be checked out by anyone who is not on the emergency contact sheet for your child. Please contact your child’s school if this information needs to be updated.  

Finally, we want you and your child to have a great experience at school. We can’t address issues and concerns if we are not made aware of them.  If there is a classroom concern, contact the teacher immediately.  If there is a school concern, contact a building administrator immediately.  If you are not pleased with how the teacher or school addressed the concern, let me know immediately. Always remember that we are here to partner with you. It’s imperative that we work together.  

My contact information can be found on our district website under the administration tab.  

Our children grow up very fast.  The years pass quickly and the moments are too special to take for granted.  Let’s have a good year and thanks for being a part of the Cabot School District! Go Panthers!


Cabot Public Schools

Elementary Schools (Grades PreK-4)

Central Elementary
36 Pond Street, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3564
Fax: (501) 843-4503
Eastside Elementary
17 Bellamy Street, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3563
Fax: (501) 843-5619
Magness Creek Elementary
16150 Arkansas Hwy 5, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3565
Fax: (501) 843-7567
Mountain Springs Elementary
3620 Mountain Springs
Road, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3575
Fax: (501) 605-1300
Northside Elementary
814 West Locust Street,
Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3568
Fax: (501) 843-6032
Southside Elementary
2600 South Pine Street, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3567
Fax: (501) 843-6229
Stagecoach Elementary
850 South Stagecoach Road,
Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3574
Fax: (501) 605-1221
Ward Central Elementary
1570 Wilson Loop Road,
Ward, AR 72176
(501) 743-3569
Fax: (501) 843-9744
Westside Elementary
1701 South Second Street, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3566
Fax: (501) 843-5802

High School (Grades 10-12)

Cabot High School
401 North Lincoln Street, Cabot, AR
(501) 843-3562
Fax: (501) 843-4231

Academic Center of Excellence
(Grades 7-12)

Academic Center of Excellence
21 Funtastic Drive, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3520
Fax: (501) 843-0283

Cabot Freshman Academy

Cabot Freshman Academy
18 Spirit Drive, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3576
Fax: (501) 941-1505

Cabot Learning Academy

Cabot Learning Academy
813 West Locust, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3540
Fax: (501) 843-3138

Special Programs

404 North 2nd Street, Cabot, AR 72023
(501) 743-3543
Fax: (501) 941-2613

Central Administrative Office

602 North Lincoln Street, Cabot, AR 72023
(501) 843-3363
Fax: (501)843-0576

Middle Schools (Grades 5-6)

Cabot Middle School North
1900 North Lincoln Street, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3571
Fax: (501) 605-0413

Cabot Middle School South
2555 Kerr Station Road, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3570
Fax: (501) 941-7432

Junior High Schools
(Grades 7-8)

Cabot Junior High North
38 Spirit Drive, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3572
Fax: (501) 605-8472

Cabot Junior High South
38 Panther Trail, Cabot, AR
(501) 743-3573
Fax: (501) 941-7746