Monday, October 31, 2011

Noon Dismissal This Wednesday 11/2

Wow, we have a busy week of activities this week!

We have the privilege of host the Norfolk Catholic Knights this Wednesday afternoon for a 1:30 kickoff for the 2nd Round Football Playoffs.  Norfolk Catholic is the #1 seed and comes to town undefeated. We're hoping to pull off the upset at home. This event involves a lot of our Chadron High staff and students. We'll dismiss at 12:00 to provide time for lunch then set-up for the game.

Also this week, the volleyball team will travel to Alliance for district play. The first game is at 7pm Monday night. Further games will take place Tuesday and Friday evening times to be determined.

Tuesday evening the high school concert choir will host their first performance of the year.  The concert will begin at 7pm in the Auditorium.

Here's our high school schedule for Wednesday:
     1st Block    7:55-9:00
     2nd Block   9:05-10:00
     3rd Block   10:05-11:00
     4th Block   11:05-12:00
     Lunch         12:00-12:45


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lock-Down Drill 10/26

A special thanks for the cooperation of the Dawes County Sheriff's Office, the Chadron Police Department and the Nebraska State Patrol for their assistance in our high school lock-down drill Wednesday afternoon, Oct 26th. 

Lock down drills are designed to prepare staff and students for an intruder or a hostage situation.  During a lock down, staff secure students in safe rooms locked with lights out. Our local law enforcement agencies walked our halls and check doors to provide us with valuable feedback for improvements to our procedures and policies. That feedback will be shared with our staff and students next week as we continue to maintain a safe environment for our students and staff.  The other district principals also attended our drill to receive feedback for their buildings.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nebraska Commissioner of Education Visits Chadron Schools

This afternoon the Chadron Public School's Administrative Team along with School Board President, Charlie Kuskie, had the honor of hosting Nebraska's Commissioner of Education, Dr. Roger Breed with an informal meeting to share local concerns and questions.  Our Chadron schools have one of the farthest districts from Lincoln where our elected and appointed officials make decisions affecting schools across the state.  It was a pleasure to not have to travel 8 hours to have a face-to-face meeting with one of those officials.

We were pleased that Dr. Breed quickly noted our high scores on the Nebraska State Assessments last spring.  He congratulated us on our test scores and was anxious to ask what steps we took in the past several years to prepare our teachers and students. He gave special recognition to our math scores which are significantly higher than many of the schools he has visited.

Along with our other administrators, I shared concerns about the need to have better enforcement for attendance issues.  I believe the strongest correlation of student success (in and out of the classroom) is regular attendance in school.  Dr. Breed said this is a common concern across the state, that about 6.3% of Nebraska students K-12 missed more than 20 days of school last year.  Even though there are circumstances that can legitimately affect a student from missing so many days, that these numbers need to decrease statewide. 

We shared our concerns that the continued emphasis in the core classes will have an effect on elective offerings that a student can take. He shared that it is known that elective offerings and extra-curricular activities are why most students attend school. Many of these offerings lead into career opportunities later in a student's life. However, the ability to teach reading, writing, math and science is only offered to people in our school settings. That without the strongest background that we can offer a student in these core areas, that they will not have the abilities to be as successful in other technical trainings and offerings.

I shared our interest in providing dual credit opportunities for our high school students.  Currently, we are working on a proposal with Chadron State College to pursue a pilot program for our qualified teachers to teach certain subjects for dual credit where if a student chooses to pay the tuition fee to the college then they can receive credit while attending their high school class.  We are in the very early stage of these discussions. Dr. Breed encouraged us to push for dual credit opportunities, that research shows that students who have obtained these credits are much more successful in completing college degrees. His support in our pursuits instills even more enthusiasm for us to continue our research.

It truly was an honor to spend time discussing these and various other topics that directly affect our district. We all know that our state doesn't have a lot of dollars right now to help local school districts.  Money or not, we are proud to offer a quality education and with support, we will continue looking into more opportunities to benefit our students. I'm thankful for our time spent expressing these concerns to Dr. Breed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

War-Torn Bosnia Presented to Students

Lejla Subasic, a 21 year-old student at Pine Ridge Job Corps, shared her experiences growing up in a war-torn country. Lejla is originally from Bosnia and grew up during the ethnic cleansing that devastated the area in the early 1990's. She shared her harrowing story of survival with social study students in Mr. Nobiling and Mr. McCarty's classes discussing the tragedies she witnessed and her experiences as a refugee.  Stories included the murder of several aunts, uncles, and cousins, separation from her father as he was held in a prisoner camp and the fleeing on foot in her mothers arms through the mountains of Bosnia on their way to a refugee camp. Lejla and her mother later were miraculously reunited with her father and all were fortunate to survive the war and make their way to the United States where they are now proud citizens.  About 50 CHS students had the opportunity to learn of Lejla's experiences and follow along with handouts of maps and pictures of Bosnia and the affects of the war.

Monday, October 17, 2011

CPS School Board Reflects on Serving the District

(A guest post written by our CHS teacher Jill Paopao)

Chadron Public Schools School Board Reflects on Serving the District
By:  Jill Paopao

Serving on Chadron Public Schools (CPS) school board is an obligation that all six members of the board of education are proud to be a part of.  

            The CPS board is comprised of individuals who work in a wide range of careers. 
Board member Sandy Roes is a Registered Nurse and the Director of the Public Health Program at Chadron Community Hospital.  She is the mother of four and will have served on the board for six years in January, but brings the experience of serving on the board of education for Trunk Butte rural schools, which is now closed.  Roes became interested in running when the rural schools were going to become part of Chadron Public Schools.  Beyond that she felt that she had the time to commit to district.
            Dr. Dave Johnson is a physician in private practice, a parent of five, and has lived in the community for six years.  January will mark one year of service for him on the board.  Dr. Johnson felt that giving the public a choice was an important reason to run.  He wanted the public to have choices, not just a single person to vote for.  
            Charlie Kuskie is the father of three alumni of Chadron High School.  He has lived here since 1998 and owns his own business as a commodities broker.  Kuskie has served on the board longest at eight years. Kuskie was originally appointed to the board when a former board member moved away from Chadron.  He has continued to run because he had an interest in what CPS was doing, he’d served on committees, and like Roes, felt it was the right time in his life.  Kuskie also said, “The schools are vitally important to the business community.”
            Terri Haynes is employed by Chadron State College in the student services department.  This is Haynes’s second year on the board.  She served on Whitney’s board, a former rural attendance center, before its closure.  Being involved in the community was the reason Haynes opted to run for the board of education.  But, she also said she “enjoys the collective intelligence of peers.”
            Tom Menke works for the city of Chadron as the utilities superintendent, and this is his first year on the board.  Menke said his three daughters were his reason for wanting to be on the school board.  He said he wants to be directly involved in the decisions that will affect his children.
            Keith Drinkwalter completes the team.  Drinkwalter is completing his third year on the board.  He serves as a Nebraska State Patrol investigator.  For Drinkwalter, he wanted to be part of the solution rather than someone who sat on the side and complained.  His goal was to be part of the solution.
            The challenges and rewards of serving on a school board often go hand-in-hand.  And from those pieces there is much to be learned.
  For Roes the biggest challenge she faces is the time commitment.  She said, “If you want to do this well, it takes time.” 
However, she feels that she has an opportunity to affect the community through the kids, economic development, etc.  For her it is exciting as learning never stops. 
Roes has learned that there are “so many different sides, opportunities, ways of thinking, etc. to each situation” that she has learned to compromise and adapt her views in order to reach the best decision.
            Dr. Johnson summed up what he sees as an obstacle as financial constraints.  But, he feels that the board has worked hard at decisions.  According to Dr. Johnson, he feels that the board has always made the best decision for that point in time.  Dr. Johnson said, “We [individually] are just one piece to the puzzle.  Not one of us has the right answer, but as a collective group we polish and hone each other to make the best decisions.”
            Kuskie echoes Roes’s sentiment in that time is a difficulty, but for him the toughest aspect of being a board member is that decisions the board makes effects individual lives.  He pointed out teacher RIFs and the rural school closures are two of the most difficult decisions he’s had to make.  But, he finds the rewards to be in the opportunity to work with lots of people that he would never have had the chance to work with. 
            Haynes’s concern is always that a decision made by the board may have “unintentional consequences.”  She stated that sometimes when a policy is created it may look good at the moment, but it may not always fit the situation later.  Yet, Haynes said, “Every decision has felt right for the school at the time, even though hard, they have been in the best interest of the district.”
            Menke said that as he has “never done anything like this,” it is both a challenge and a reward.  He stated that he is amazed at how much information is given at board meetings, but how little of that information gets to the public.  According to Menke, he would like to see more public input and more people at meetings.
            Drinkwalter, like Dr. Johnson, sees finances as a hurdle.  “Taxes are hurting some people who struggle to survive.  So, it is very difficult to vote in favor of any new tax or tax increase.  In saying that, our district buildings are in dire need of attention, and the only feasible way I see to address the issues are to try to continue the current bond to finance the repairs that are needed,” Drinkwalter said.  He hopes through open and honest communication and community involvement in tough decisions, there can be support of board decisions.    
            While serving on a school board has its ups and downs all members of Chadron Public Schools’ board of education are pleased to serve the community.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

PLAN Test Oct. 19th

This test is for all sophomores. It gives a good idea of what to expect on the ACT exam, and also provides an excellent interest inventory for participants.  All CHS sophomores will be taking the test and must report to the CSC Student Center by 7:30am! Please do not park at the college, or you run the risk of getting a parking ticket. Plan to walk to the college.  The test will last all morning, students will return to the high school for their afternoon classes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Need For Vocational Training

This morning I observed Mr. Cogdill's Construction class. I was reminded just how important it is to teach vocational skills to our students. We often here in National news the need for college preparation for students, what we don't hear is the need to teach other 'vocational' skills for students.  This morning, students were working in individual construction modules where they end up fully remodeling a bathroom.  At the beginning of the semester, modules are framed only, students must complete all of the electrical, plumbing, sheet rock, painting, etc.  As many of us adults know, learning these skills can save a lot of money in later years as we become homeowners, whether we attempt a full remodel in our own homes or whether we need to fix a leak or do some minor repair work.  Another obvious advantage to teaching these skills to students is to expose them to career opportunities.  The need for skilled laborers is high and the opportunities for people to make good money in providing these services to growing communities can provide a life-long career that doesn't require a 4-year degree. I strongly believe that students need to be prepared for further education beyond high school, but specialized vocational education needs to be emphasized just as much as college preparation.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Geometry Class Learns Accident Reconstruction

With the help of the Chadron Police Department, Mr. Holmquist's Geometry class learns how to do some accident reconstruction.  Class began with Chadron High SRO, Officer Aron Chrisman, in the classroom showing the common formulas used in predicting the speed of a car by measuring the skid marks and using a drag factor.  The drag factor allows for differences in the surface conditions of the road: asphalt, cement, gravel, rain, snow, etc. All four of the tires skid marks are measured then averaged for use in the formula.

Students then went outside to 10th street where Lieutenant Hickstein and Officer Chrisman demonstrated and led the students through measuring skid marks and calculating a drag factor so students could predict the speed of a stopping car. This activity allowed for the continued growth in the relationship between students and the local law enforcement agency as well as the opportunity to see how math is used in careers outside of the classroom.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cardinal Tech Conference 2011

In an effort to provide professional development for teachers without the high cost of attending conferences around the state, Chadron Public Schools hosted their own technology conference on Wednesday, October 5th.  Technology Director, Eliu Paopao, began developing several different sessions on a variety of technology topics that teachers could use in the classroom. Sessions were held in classrooms throughout the high school. Topics ranged from: Twitter, Blogging, Dropbox, Google Apps, LiveBinders, Glogsters, and much more.  Six 50-minute sessions were held throughout the day. Each session contained 4 different choices of topics.  The first-ever Cardinal Technology Conference was a huge success in providing teachers exposure to a variety a technological uses for the classroom.