Mission Statement  

Cotaco School - Mission Statement

-committed, caring, dedicated-

 to meeting the educational needs of every single student.


Morgan County Schools - Mission Statement

Every child a graduate, 

Every graduate prepared to Lead.



 Cotaco School's Belief Statements:

Each student is a valued individual with unique physical, social, emotional and intellectual needs.

Teachers, parents, students, administrators, and the community are responsible for a good learning environment in which students can excel.

All children will learn with various instructional techniques and activities.

Students will apply their learning in meaningful context (real-life situations).

We believe parental involvement is crucial to the success of students' learning.

Open communication among students, teachers, parents, and the school is the greatest tool for each child's education.

We are committed, caring educators dedicated to meeting the needs of all learners.

We will educate students in a safe, nurturing environment.


  About The School  

Cotaco School Executive Summary: 2014 - 2015

Cotaco School
Cotaco School


Cotaco School is a rural K-8th grade school located in Somerville, which is in Eastern Morgan County, Alabama. Cotaco is one of five
feeder schools to A.P. Brewer High School. Over the past three years, Cotaco School's enrollment has remained at or around 500 students.
Our current enrollment is 480 students with 252 males and 228 females. Current demographics indicate that the current population dispersal
is 92% White, 3% Black, 3% Hispanic, 2% Multi-Race, and .8% other. Cotaco has been a Title I school since 2009, and our current
free/reduced priced lunch percentage is 61%. Cotaco School has 34 certified highly qualified teachers, one principal, one assistant principal,
and 13 support staff. The Morgan County School System provides six buses for the general population and two special needs buses.
The average household size is 2.6 people with a median income of $44,362 and a median home value of $74,928. Cotaco faces several
unique challenges in its goal of providing a quality education to the students in our community. The Somerville/Cotaco community is 100%
rural with no major industries; therefore, we have very limited opportunities to seek out Partners in Education. There is not a local tax base
or outside funding for our rural school. The current unemployment rate in the community is approximately 10% with approximately 20% of
Cotaco residents living below the poverty level. Children of these low income families face increased social and academic challenges in the
classroom. Sadly, eastern Morgan County, including the Somerville/Cotaco community, is deemed a high methamphetamine drug trafficking
area by local law enforcement. Many of our students are directly affected by the negative influence of illegal drug use in their homes or
Cotaco School is fortunate to have a dedicated teaching and support staff that understands the challenges we face and is highly motivated
to overcome them with care and professionalism. Many of our faculty are 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation Cotaco residents and are committed to
educating the children of this community.


Cotaco School's vision: Tomorrow's Leaders, Lead today!
Cotaco School's mission: Every Child a Graduate. Every Graduate Prepared to Lead.
Cotaco School's motto: It All Starts Here!.
The Morgan County School System, in partnership with family and community, will provide a comprehensive curriculum to meet the unique
intellectual, social, emotional, and physical needs of each student and will advocate lifelong learning and productive citizenship in a global
Cotaco School is fortunate to have a dedicated teaching and support staff that understands the challenges we face and is highly motivated to
overcome them with care and professionalism. We believe that every child is important, and that every child can succeed. Our staff shows
their concern for our students through daily mentoring sessions, a time integrated into our schedule four days a week, during which mentors
meet with their assigned students to listen and advise using Seven Habits and character education. Seven Habits training, as well as
character education lessons are ubiquitous in our curriculum as teachers integrate these ideals whenever possible. Free tutoring programs
are offered to students after school to remediate areas of reading and math. Through club sponsorship, teachers work to get students more
involved in activities that encourage student participation and improved social skills. The Student of the Month program rewards selected
students that perform above and beyond that which is expected of them and, by example, encourages other students to strive to be better.
We strive to look for the good in our students and develop student leaders who will be role models for their peers.

Notable Achievements and Areas of Improvement:

Cotaco School's 8th grade ACT Explore Assessment reading and language results for the 2012-13 school year were the highest in Morgan
County. The math and science results for the same year were the second highest in Morgan County. For the past four years, 100% of
Cotaco School's ACCESS distance learners passed with A's and B's. Cotaco students have won and placed in the Garden Clubs of
Alabama Poetry Contest in 2012-13. Cotaco Beta members won the state poetry and arts and crafts (wreath) competitions in 2013 and, in
2014, two Beta members placed 2nd and 3rd in social studies and science competitions, respectively. Cotaco's ARMT scores were some of
the highest in Morgan County for 2012-13. Also, during the 2012-13 school year, the TAG program created an anti-bullying video starring
country music artist Jordan Allena.
Some of the notable achievements for the 2013-14 school year include an elementary leadership team consisting of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders
and a Seven Habits Rap created by the TAG program students. Mrs. Crow's 8th grade girls mentoring group won the K-8 division of the
Morgan County Schools Anti-Bullying Video Competition. The archery team qualified and competed in both state and national competitions.
Also new in the 2013-14 school year is the student news broadcasting team and the robotics team. The Cotaco chapter of Future Farmers of
America was chartered and placed second in the Morgan County FFA creed speaking competition. The FFA students were instrumental in
improving the external aesthetic appearance of our school by planting crepe myrtles and staining the new fence. Also, in 2014, a Cotaco
student won the county Read Across America poster contest.

Additional Information:

We believe that Cotaco School is one of the finest K-8 schools in Alabama. The faculty and staff dedicate themselves to providing a positive
and challenging learning environment for our students. Cotaco offers many opportunities for students to broaden their educational
experience and develop socially. Programs are in place to reward students for positive behavior and work ethic and to hold them
accountable for unacceptable behavior and poor work ethic. Students have many extracurricular activities from which to choose. Cotaco was
the first middle school in Morgan County to offer ACCESS Distance Learning courses to 8th grade students. Cotaco instituted a biker's club.
Students and chaperones take a bike ride through the surrounding countryside twice yearly, accompanied by local fire department members
and law enforcement. TAG sponsors a chess tournament twice a year open to all students who wish to participate. Cotaco piloted the HEAL
program (Healthy Eating and Living). 7th and 8th grade students are also given the opportunity to compete on the math team. Students
have the opportunity to attend Pow Wow each week, which is a Friday afternoon fun period for students who have completed all their work
(of good quality), attended school all week, and were free from discipline issues. Cotaco has a scholar's bowl team and a student of the
month program. Title I is providing a program for free violin lessons for all 3rd grade students. Cotaco School's geography bee winner
placed in the top 20 in the state competition. Cotaco also received a grant from Senator Arthur Orr for a recreational cart filled with sporting
goods for students to use at recess. In summation, Cotaco school offers students a well-rounded education that strives to provide students
with the tools necessary to be successful in high school and beyond.

The Legend of Cotaco School

Many, many moons ago, one village of the Creek Tribe was located near the present site of Cotaco.  Another village was located on the high ground near the great river where the village of Talucah now stands.

The sub-chief of the village near Cotaco was very old, having seen 91 summers.  His three sons were Cokato, Hulaco, and Cotaco.  In their language, Cokato meant fierce warrior; Hulaco meant fearless one; and Cotaco meant brave and wise.

In the village near the great river was another sub-chief whose daughter was very fair.  She was a slender and straight as the arrows with which the braves slew the deer and bear.  Her voice was the music of the rippling brook.  Her eyes were as soft as those of the fawn.  Her name was Talucah which means soft breeze.

The old chief, father of Cokato, Hulaco, and Cotaco, was happy that Cokato was a great warrior because by the rules of the tribe, Cokato, the eldest son, would become chief when the old chief had gone to the happy hunting ground.  But he was also worried because Cokato had the temper of a she bear when her cubs are attacked.  Cokato often had a temper tantrum over some trifle to which the other braves would have paid no heed.

Now, all three brothers love Talucah and each hoped to take her to his wigwam as his wife to cook his meals and bear his children.

According to tribal law, when a maiden had passed her eighteenth summer, she was to declare her preference if more than one brave sought her favors.  Her preference was always respected and recognized as right and just because it kept the braves from fighting among them selves.

Now, Talucah was four moons past her eighteenth summer and even though Cokato, Hulaco, and Cotaco had all declared their love for her, she had not chosen one as her mate because she loved them all and could not decide which to choose.

Cokato and Hulaco pressed their suits aggressively with gifts of beads, deer skin, and wampum; while Cotaco took her flowers and sweet herbs.

One day, Cokato and Hulaco appeared in Talucah's wigwam at the same time to pay court to her. Cotaco was not far behind.  After many bitter words between them, Cokato attacked Hulaco.  This was contrary to tribal law for brothers who quarreled where supposed to choose unrelated braves to fight form them.  In this manner one brother did not shed another's blood and honor was satisfied.

After many hours of fighting, Cokato threw Hulaco to the ground and was about to brain him with his tomahawk.  At this time Cotaco, who had watched most of the fight in silence, threw his arms around Cotaco and help him because Cokato was tired and the strength of Cotaco as greater.

Because tribal laws had been broken, a council of the sub-chiefs and older warriors was called to deal with the matter.  The council spokesman told Cokato, "You have broken our laws.  You have attacked a blood brother.  You have shed his blood and would have killed him had not Cotaco restrained you.  For this, the Council has decided that you will be banished.  You will take your weapons and nothing else.  You will travel in the direction in which the wild goose flies when the flowers begin to bloom.  Between three and four moon's travel, you will come to a great body of water.  Here you will spend the season of ice and snow.  When the flowers bloom again, you will travel toward the setting sun until you have gone around this great lake.  Then you will continue to travel with the wild goose until you have reached another great body of water (Hudson Bay) as great as that toward which the geese fly when the leaves turn red and the frost is on the vine (Gulf of Mexico).  Here, you will make your home.  You may never return to your childhood home.  You must remain where we send you."

To Hulaco the spokesman said, "You have fought to defend your life as any warrior would, but you broke our law when you fought your brother.  It is better to die with honor than to break our law.  You may remain with us if you wish but you can not become our chief when your father goes to the happy hunting ground.  Cotaco shall become chief or our village because he upheld our law while you broke it."

Talucah spoke, "I to have broken our law."  I should have chosen my brave, and this would not have happened. I will banish myself.  We have kinsmen among the people to the south and east.  I will cross the small river (Chattahoochee) and go to our kinsmen.  Here I will make my home."

Cokato took his weapons and left in a fit of great anger.  But Hulaco said, "I have done no wrong. I was attacked, and I fought, not to kill my brother, but to save my own life so that I might kill the deer and the bear to feed our people; so that I might live to defend our village if we are attacked.

If I can not become your chief, I will choose a maiden as my wife.  I will go the mountains to the south where there is much game.  I will make my home there and establish my own village.  Do I go with a warrior's honor?"

The Spokesman replied, "Go with honor.  Your offspring may choose their mated from our village if they wish."

So Hulaco departed with a warrior's honor and established his lodge near the village which bears his name today; and Talucah began her journey to the south and east in search of her kinsmen.

When Talucah established her home with her kinsmen, many of the related braves sought her hand because she was very fair.  But her heart was with her homeland to which she wished to return but would not.

After three summers, the old chief went to the happy hunting ground during the cold season, and Cotaco became chief in his stead.  His first act as chief was to assemble the council and to persuade it to let Talucah return to her home if she wished.  He pointed out that the council had not banished her; that her exile was voluntary.

With the Council's approval, Cotaco set out to get Talucah.  But when he found the village in which she had made her home, the braves would not let Cotaco take her because each hoped to make her his wife.  So Cotaco asked for a meeting of the Council to decide the matter.  The Council decided that Talucah should remain there to become the bride of one of their braves since the village had provided her with food and lodging for three summers-unless, of course Cotaco wish to fight all her suitors. 

But Cotaco said, "You are many. I am but one.  If I fought your braves one at a time, I would become sore and weary, perhaps wounded.  I know your braves would not think it honorable to fight a wounded man.  This might take many moons.  The business of the council is too important to take up so much time with a mere girl.  Let us settle this matter quickly.  Let your warriors decide among themselves who is to face me in battle for her."

To this the council agreed.  A powwow was called that night to select their greatest warrior. But the powwow among the warriors developed into fighting because each brave thought himself the best and each wanted Talucah for his own.

While the warriors were fighting each other, Cotaco stole Talucah from her tepee, and they slipped quietly into the night and returned home.

The warriors where Talucah had lived during her exile were sad because they had loved and lost her.  So the named a village in her honor-no, not Talucah.  This village is A-lop-a-ha which in their language means maiden who did not stay.  A small town exists today on that site.  It is Alapah, Georgia, on U.S. route 129.

When Cotaco and Talucah returned to their village, a message from Cokato awaited them.  The message said, "The Ottawa among whom you have exiled me are not a friendly people.  Their maidens shun me.  I can find none to share my tepee.  I have been forced to kill some of their braves because they hate me.  The ice and snow freeze the marrow in my bones. May I not come farther south to a warmer climate and a friendlier people?"

Cotaco replied, "Your punishment has been harsh.  Because you are a great warrior and my brother, you may return half-way to your homeland.  This will place you among the Minnesota's who are a friendly people.  Here you will find much game and many fish."

So Cokato returned to the land of the Minnesotas, through which he had passed as he followed the wild geese in the spring.  Here he found his maiden and established his village which bears his name today. It is now on U.S. route 12 about half-way between Minneapolis and Willmar, Minnesota.

Cotaco governed his tribe with courage and wisdom.  Talucah bore him many papooses who grew into great warriors and fair maidens.

So end the legend of Cotaco which was responsible for the founding of three communities and two towns.

                                                                                 By Jean Giers.