September 17, 2007

High school initiatives support students
Hamilton High School has focused on increased achievement through its site plan, and Principal Candis Mongan outlined some successes and initiatives that are underway at the school. Mongan reported that the high school has experienced a significant increase in the number of students participating in Advanced Placement (AP) and ACT exams. The school has also seen a jump in the number of AP courses offered.

Students taking rigorous coursework require appropriate support, according to Mongan. The focus at Hamilton continues to be on developing higher-level thinking skills and increasing academic success. Additional achievement strategies include:

Vertical teaming which draws middle and high school staff together in department meetings to identify what students need to know on the AP test and determine when they will learn it.

  • AP Student Support in which students are contracted to participate in morning study sessions facilitated by the AP teacher.
  • Gearing Up sessions will provide preparatory AP test practice facilitated by the AP teacher one month before the exams.
  • Senior Survey – Seniors will complete an ACT intent survey which will help guidance counselors prepare students who plan to take the test. The survey will allow counselors to proactively identify students who need more preparation to be successful on the exam.
  • ACT Exposure – Beginning this year, all juniors will take the ACT practice exam during the school day. Two mandatory advisement sessions will focus on strategies to use when taking the test and individual results with suggestions for improvement. All Hamilton freshmen take the EXPLORE, and all sophomores take the PLAN.
  • Administrative Mentoring – Each high school administrator will select five students who do not traditionally take challenging coursework and assist them in their endeavor to be successful.

School Board members complimented Mongan on the planned initiatives. Lynn Christensen predicted students will have greater success on AP exams because of the extra support.

Deborah Briggs said she was glad the whole staff was involved with creating the initiatives.

Summer Opportunities has another successful year
If the Summer Opportunities Program were a school, it would have the largest enrollment in the district. Summer Opportunities Coordinator Dick Ladd reported that 1,692 students participated in the program in 2007, and 258 sections were scheduled. The majority of students who participated were elementary and middle school students in enrichment classes.

A total of 352 students participated in invitational programs to provide academic support in reading, math and study skills. All 13 Templeton students who participated in the promotional program to master content and organizational skills met the expectations of the program and were promoted to the next grade level.

Popularity of the high school Sci-Fi Book Club required an additional section to accommodate the 17 students who enrolled. Some 52 incoming freshman enrolled in a one-day class called “Everything You Wanted to Know About High School But Was Afraid to Ask.” High school coaching staff supervised 180 students who participated in “Speed, Agility and Strength.”

The only note of regret in Ladd’s report was the announcement that long-time summer school assistant Marlene Helinski announced her retirement. School Board members encouraged Helinski to reconsider her decision and remain with the program. Ladd said she agreed to be an “advisor.”

Staff members have busy summer
Instructional Services Supervisor Dee Bauman presented the 2007 Summer Workshop Report. The summer provided extended time for district staff to participate in curriculum and professional development which included revision of:

  • elementary reading and mathematics benchmark assessments;
  • elementary report card;
  • family and consumer education curriculum; and
  • social studies curriculum to include projects that integrate information-technology literacy standards.

School-based curriculum projects included:

  • Maple Avenue site plan writing and intervention tactics;
  • Willow Springs curriculum mapping and alignment to early childhood learning standards;
  • Templeton enriched science and communication arts curriculum and alignment of eighth grade communication arts to new resources;
  • Hamilton alignment of environmental science, biology and 20th century U.S. history to new resources, revision of junior and senior communication arts, stained glass curriculum and special education reading curriculum, and alignment of business education courses to WCTC curriculum.

Personnel matters
In personnel business, the School Board:

  • adjusted the Special Services administrative assistant position to a confidential support staff member and increased the pay by $4,500 per year. The move was made because of increasing demands in the Special Services Office involving federal and state audits, high-cost student reports, Medicaid and other reports. Special Services is using new software and the administrative assistant was instrumental in training all special education staff.
  • appointed Sally Thompson as a Woodside paraprofessional, Cheryl Chounard Pease as a high school Special Services paraprofessional, Kurt Leapley as a Maple Avenue Special Services paraprofessional and Jennifer Walter as a Hamilton Learning Center paraprofessional.