Truth and taxation hearing in December
By ARIANA R. CHERRY
“I am pretty fired up about where we go from here,” noted Superintendent Shannon Cheeks at the last ALAH School Board meeting held on November 18. Cheeks was referring to a positive story shared from ALAH Principal Stephanie Seegmiller when she shared with the board recent accomplishments regarding SAT’s.
“For ten weeks – at five days a week, we were working with juniors last school year. They were three and a half weeks away from taking the SAT’s. And then our schools shut down because of COVID. Then in August, they had to take the test in order to graduate. When we re-opened, we put together a review class and had some seniors who joined them after school and after hours to take it. We were five points from making the state average. It is our students and their commitments, but it is these guys (teachers and staff) who made it happen,” told Seegmiller.
“They are flexible, dedicated, smart and they know their business,” she added. On November 19, they celebrated their seniors and all of their hard work which they hoped would inspire the juniors. Seegmiller named several members of the staff and teachers who were responsible for helping out with the SAT’s. Some of those names included: Darcy Singer, Trisha Sluder, Guy Bates, Sarah Bailey, April Hart, Mark Smith, Kayla Huckleby and Kendall Huffman.
“We are all excited for you,” Beth Wiley, President of the school board, told Seegmiller.
After accepting the consent agenda, Cheeks shared the Treasurer’s report.
“There’s a sense of uncertainty right now of where we are headed,” he commented. “It has been stated by our Governor to expect a 5% reduction. No one really knows where yet, but fingers crossed, we will hope for the best,” Cheeks explained.
During the principal reports, there was a presentation showing the new masks that band and chorus students use to keep everyone safe during the COVID pandemic. There are special openings for students so that they can still play their instruments. The music students stand anywhere from six to nine feet apart. Students wore their masks during the Veteran’s Day program. They hope to put together some type of virtual Christmas program as well. The new masks will allow students to safely practice indoors during the colder weather, since recently, they had been practicing outdoors.
Board members also reviewed the amended Aramark Food Service contract.
“There are a lot of extra costs that are related to COVID. Some of those costs include the pre-packaged food and it costs more on how lunches have to be distributed to the students right now. The schools will be reimbursed with all of the free school lunches that have been offered,” informed Cheeks. After the presented information, the board voted to approve the amended contract.
Cheeks and board members then discussed the tentative tax levy. Shannon explained that there would have to be a Truth and Taxation hearing since the current tentative levy was set at 5.99%. There are six different funds that are already set and cannot go above a certain amount by law. Those funds are used towards the Education Fund(most flexible), Operation and Maintenance, Transportation, Special Education, Fire Prevention, IMRF, Social Security, Tort, and Working Cash. “It will come in this year about the same as it has been in the past,” Cheeks commented. The tentative levy was approved and it will be voted on at the December meeting after the Truth and Taxation hearing.
Afterward, Cheeks presented his Superintendent’s report and spoke about the present COVID situation in the district. As of November 18, there were six students and two staff who had tested positive. There were 97 students who were quarantined.
“Our staff is amazing. These quarantine numbers are not because of what is happening at school. It is what is happening outside.” IIt probably has been less than two that we have had to quarantine because of our classrooms,” Cheeks stated. “Our administrators are spending time here on the weekends, doing contact tracing and making sure kids are at home if they have been infected. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here doing in person learning. They have been doing a great job. The health dept is so busy and if we relied on them for contract tracing, we wouldn’t be here,” he further explained. “We are seeing leadership rise up and character being revealed,” Cheeks also added.
Cheeks explained to the board that the district does have a process for decision making when it comes to deciding whether to keep the school open or not. “The first step and the questions we ask to the administration are, ‘How many positives? Where are the positives located? We have to consider all the different factors. How many do you have in your building? Where are they? Are we okay with our staff? Do we have adequate staffing?” he explained. “I am proud of what our schools have done. We are going to make it,” he said proudly.
• I recommend the hiring of Mike Nall as the JH Head Boys Basketball Coach
• I recommend the hiring of Daniel Ruyle as the JH Assistant Boys Basketball Coach
• Accept letter of intent to retire from Jann Harris at the end of the 2024-2025 school year.
• Approval of amendment to Amanda Romine Contract for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year
• I recommend Jennifer Kinney for hire for a full-time aide position at AGS
• I recommend for hire Kaezeh Parsa for a ½ time aide position at AGS
Atwood-Hammond Grade School
• Students are earning letters to spell out Organize
• Teachers are teaching organization skills within the classroom. Each week we focus on a different aspect of organization. These range from keeping your desktop, keeping your papers organized, keeping your personal belongings organized, and keeping your desk/locker/crate organized.
Parent Teacher Conferences
Conferences were held virtually this year. Teachers made contact with approximately 87% of our parents. If parents could not meet through a google meet they were able to be reached by phone calls.
1st Quarter Honor Roll
Itsa Pizza has teamed up with our schools and is offering reading and academic rewards to our students. Each 6th-8th grader that qualifies for High Honors or Honors will receive a certificate for a free individual pizza from Ittsa Pizza. We had 35 students earn this 1st quarter.
A huge thank you goes out to Tina Harvey. She has been tirelessly working on a Veteran’s Day program the last few months. During her time with the students she has had them prepare patriotic songs and readings. She then recorded the students performing these songs and put them together in a video. On Veteran’s Day we were able to post this video to our social media for all to enjoy. It was a wonderful way to honor our veterans during this unusual year.
A view in the classroom
• Students are learning how to use breakout rooms in Google Classroom. I have been able to observe in person and remote students working together during class to complete projects.
• Students enjoyed a school-wide virtual Bingo Game on October 30. They earned this school-wide celebration by meeting our first quarter goal of wearing your mask. Our PBIS team organized the game and it included prizes, snacks, and lots of fun. A huge thank you to Erin Beck for her part in organizing and getting the information out to teachers. It was a great way to end our 1st quarter.
Mrs. Brown has been working on a collaborative project with 2nd-5th grade classes in the district. After reading the same book, “We Are All Friends”, the students are working together on a collaborative Google SlideShow (one per grade) to insert pictures of themselves among common categories.
This project accomplishes 4 goals:
1. To introduce Sora, our new digital reading app, to the students
2. To teach computer skills such as inserting images, resizing shapes, working with fonts, and learning that “undo” is our best friend
3. To teach rules of collaboration: everyone gives input and everyone receives input without judgment
4. To Unify students within the same grade level across the district
There have been many positive comments from the students recognizing friends who have moved to a different building within our district and recognizing that we have a lot in common with each other, even if we don’t see each other every day.
The hope is to use this project to springboard into more collaborative projects in the library and to work with teachers to encourage other collaborative projects across the district grade levels.
Arthur Grade School
1. AGS Top Knights
Kindergarten: Sofia Mitchell, Adrian Remirez
1st Grade: Landon Jess, Jesus Come
2nd Grade: Nate Blaudow, Kole Herschberger
3rd Grade: Bridget Chupp, Andrea Gingerich
4th Grade: Jezmin, Gutierrez, Aubrey Lawson
5th Grade: Jillian Marner, Savannah Pearsall
6th Grade: Nathan Rafferty, Damian Remirez
7th Grade: Payton Warrior
8th Grade: Skyler Allen
2. Celebrating Veteran’s Day
I would like to thank some of our staff that helped by putting together the presentation and recording our students: Pam Checkley, Michaela Ponstein, Rhonda Rhodes, Brianne Eads, Roger Punches, Bryton Ragon, Heather Taylor, and Jessica Vanausdoll. All classroom teachers spent time showing the presentation to their students and had wonderful discussions about the meaning of Veteran’s Day.
3. Recycling Program at AGS
This year, we are continuing the recycling program at the school. It consists of 20 eighth grade students who applied to participate in the program. Though faced with many challenges due to the pandemic, this group collects recycling from their assigned classrooms every other week. Whenever restrictions become relaxed, at some point, we would like to give this more of a competition feel for the school. There will be meetings held to allow the students to come up with ideas on how to get the younger students excited and interested in recycling.
Lovington Grade School
Parent Teacher Conferences
PreK through 5th grade: 92 out of 100 students had parents participate in virtual conferences this year either through Google Meet or by phone. There was an 84% attendance rate. For 6-8th grade: 28 out of 53 students had parents in virtual conferences. This was a 47% attendance rate. Overall, Lovington Grade School had a 74% attendance rate.
Red Ribbon Week
LGS students participated in Red Ribbon Week during OCtober 26-30. Each student and staff members signed the “Pledge to be Drug-Free” banner, decorated classroom doors, and participated in dress-up days. A huge thanks goes out to Ms. Ashmore for planning all the activities for this week.
Veteran’s Day Program
Thank you to Ms. Rosenbaum, Ms. Henning, Mrs. Seal, Mr. Davis, and Ms. Voegel for their help in planning our virtual Veteran’s Day activities for this year.
Food Drive Contest
The LGS Student Council sponsored a Food Drive Contest for students and community during the week of November 9-14. The teachers of the winning classes will be participating in an ice bucket challenge. THank you everyone for participating! We added up the donations on
Saturday by pounds, then added the school donations to that. It’s incredible that $1=12 lbs of food. Christ’s Pantry was extremely grateful for all of the donations since they’ve been struggling to keep it fully stocked. Pam (community leader that helped with the event) even got beef and turkey donations for them. GReat work everyone!
5th place: 3rd & 4th grades: 1208 lbs
4th place: 7th & 8th grades: 1315 lbs
3rd place: 1st & 2nd grades: 1381 lbs
2nd place: Prek & K: 1427 lbs
1st place: 5th & 6th grades: 1806 lbs
1. The ILMEA Audition results were recently released. Congratulations to McKayla Custer, Miah Malin, Maleah Roberts, Sarah Rogers, and Zack Woodard were all accepted into the Senior Choir. Colton Middleton was accepted for the Senior Band and Kaiden Morfey was accepted for the Senior Orchestra. Seven of our eight students that auditioned were accepted!
2. Parent teacher conferences were held on October 21 and 22 from 4:00 – 8:00 pm. Offering virtual appointments went much better than expected. We had 303 appointments scheduled and 89 students had parents participate in conferences. This was an increase from the previous year when we had 273 appointments and 63 students with parents who participated.
3. The DAR and SAR Award recipients were announced on Veteran’s Day. The DAR Award was awarded to Ben Matheny and the SAR Award went to Erin Schrock.
4. The Rotary Student of the Month was Brady Moore.