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December 20, 2010

High school celebrates successes

Hamilton High School reached two significant milestones in academic achievement in the 2009-10 school year.

  • The graduating class of 2010 earn a composite score of 24.1 on the ACT, the highest recorded in the history of the school.
  • The percentage of students passing the Advanced Placement exam with a score of three or better reached 89.9 percent while the number of students taking the college-equivalent exams was at its all time highest. The school scored a 1.0 on the  “challenge index,” a ratio determined by dividing the total number of AP exams taken in one year by the number of students graduating that same year.

Principal Candis Mongan updated the School Board on Hamilton’s site plan which identifies that “students will apply 21st century learning to maximize their potential in the global community.”

Action teams met during the summer and composed interventions and implementation steps related to the themes of communication and social responsibility. The interventions state that students will:

  • take an active role in their learning to develop personal and social responsibility skills essential to contribute to their communities; and
  • demonstrate effective communication for a range of purposes in diverse environments.

To continue making progress toward meeting its site plan goal, the school will continue to build an integrated staff development program, modify curriculum and instruction practices based on analysis of standardized test results, examine school data to measure progress and align department plans with site plan interventions.

School Board members expressed appreciation to Mongan and the staff at Hamilton for the school’s achievements.

“The past year was a bang-up year for us as far as achievement,” Deborah Briggs said. “The challenge is to continue to improve.”

Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., said the focus on academic rigor is obvious. She extended appreciation to teachers and leaders at the school who have worked on accelerating academic achievement.

School Board member Lynn Kristensen commented that Hamilton is not just focused on rigor, but also ensuring that students have support when they need it.

UV cleaning system approved for air handling units

An ultra-violet light system that kills mold and bacteria will be installed on all major air-handling units in the district. School Board members approved investing $115,000 to install UV coil bathing units similar to ones installed at the high school with success. While the units have been shown to reduce infection rates in clinical studies, the main benefit of the installing the system is to reduce maintenance and energy costs. The units kill mold and bacteria that grow in coil drain pans in air-handling units. They also destroy biofilm that forms on cooling coils and break down dirt and other growth on the coils. The bioflim and dirt tend to plug the coils over time, requiring more energy to operate them. With UV lights installed, coils stay cleaner and more energy-efficient.

Energy savings from the unit installed at the high school have shown a seven-month payback on the unit, according to Buildings and Grounds Manager Jeff Grove. He estimated that the addition of UV units throughout the district will have a 2-year payback in maintenance and energy savings. Hamilton was selected by UltraViolet Devices, Inc., to participate in a case study and was offered UV components at a reduced cost.

Science curriculum adopted

The School Board adopted a revised science curriculum for students in grades 6-12. The curriculum document format is similar to other recently revised curriculum, and includes overarching learning targets that were established based on the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards, National Science Teachers’ Association Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy and Project 2061. The science curriculum committee worked collaboratively last year, with final editing during the summer, to create the learning targets that include:

  • systems, order and organization –all things are part of an orderly interactive system;
  • constancy, change and measurement –scientific measurement can describe constancy and change in nature;
  • form and function – characteristics help an object function and changing these characteristics influence an object’s function;
  • evidence, models and explanations – use of appropriate models explain science themes; and
  • equilibrium and evolution – all living and nonliving things have interdependence and balance that can change over time.

The committee sought to promote a deeper understanding of scientific processes and concepts and relate their knowledge of details and facts with larger scientific principles.

Several programs are being piloted this year at the elementary level. A K-5 science curriculum will be presented for School Board adoption in the spring of 2012.

LaPerriere recognized for performance

Three qualities characterize district maintenance employee David LaPerriere – professionalism, work ethic and dedication to the school district.  Buildings and Grounds Manager Jeff Grove said LaPerriere exemplified those qualities recently when the high school lost its hot water supply. The problem was detected in the afternoon, and LaPerriere essentially needed to re-pipe the entire boiler room to get hot water in time for school the next day. Grove said that when he asked about the likelihood that it could be completed, LaPerriere responded: “Don’t worry about it. If I have to be here all night it will be done.”

Grove said that because LaPerriere is so skilled and able to tackle many projects, he has saved the district hundreds of thousands of dollars because outside contractors were not needed.

In accepting an award for his outstanding contributions to the school district, LaPerriere said, “I never expected anything like this, but I am happy to get it.”

Multicultural activities, Chapter 220 report presented

School Social Worker and Chapter 220 Program Coordinator Erica Bova-Brown provided a report on multicultural initiatives.  She noted in her report that multicultural initiatives are designed to foster respect and understanding of multiple ethnic heritages and prepare students for a global economy through educational opportunities. Chapter 220 students are encouraged to overcome academic obstacles, identify and meet personal goals and use creativity to solve problems.