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Special ed program gets high marks


Every year each school district in the State of Ohio receives a rating on the performance of its special education program. The Ohio Department of Education uses final data that the district submits through the Education Management Information System (EMIS). These data result in one of four ratings – meets requirements, needs assistance, needs intervention or needs substantial intervention. Xenia’s rating was “needs assistance” for school years 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.

This year, our designation changed to “meets requirements” for 2013-2014. This is not only the highest designation possible but out of a possible score of 32 points, our district earned a perfect score. Great job to all of our special education staff members and to Director Dianna Alliod for an outstanding job.

Tecumseh news: Congratulations to Gunnar Stephan for being named the “Kid of Character” for the month of September at Tecumseh. Stephan was recognized at the September Board of Education meeting. Marisa Morrison has created a super hero wall at Tecumseh. Congratulations to all of the students on the wall for their hard work and great choices. Kudos also to Amanda Fraumann for bringing her “dojo” to the first grade. It looks like this is going to be a great addition. The recent Grandparent’s Lunch was a huge success! Pre-reservations totaled 197 grandparents, but there were late turn-ins, phone calls the morning of the event, and people coming that were not expected. Thus, more than 200 guests attended that day. One grandmother drove five hours from Michigan to have a 30-minute lunch with her granddaughter.

Warner news: Students in Dana McClain’s seventh grade social studies class have been studying the different types of government from Ancient Greece. Students were given a bag filled with gummy bears and asked to create a scene that would help other students in the class understand visually what each government would be like to live under. Students created gummy thrones, battle takeover scenes, and gummy voting booths. Eighth grade WEB leaders hosted a dance for sixth grade students.

Eighth grade leaders taught sixth graders several line dances including the electric slide and the cupid shuffle. The sixth grade students in Amberly Winegar’s math class began studying ratios. Students had a lot of fun exploring relationships between quantities of Fruit Loops. William Ryan’s eighth grade Medical Detectives class has been investigating careers in bio-medical sciences. Students created a one-page power point on the career of their choice highlighting the responsibilities, salary range, best location, education, and future demands of this type of professional.

Jenny Alex’s Project Lead the Way Medical Detectives class is exploring how the human body senses the environment by the interaction of specialized nerve endings with some aspect or another of the environment. The students soon will discover where their senses are processed by the brain after the signals are sent through the specialized nerves. Students in Josh Zinger’s eighth grade Media Tech classes have created websites using Google Sites. Each week students are writing two articles to post on the blog section of their website.

ACT prep: We are setting a goal to raise ACT scores in our school district from its current 21 rating to 23. We have 90 juniors who have committed to extra ACT Prep time both during the school day and after school. In turn, the school district is paying for some additional opportunities for them to help them prepare for the actual tests.

5K Fun Run: The 5K Fun Run/Walk is coming up Oct.31. Official registration sheets for staff, students and the general public are now available. We are also posting registration sheets on the website and on Facebook. We are also sending home a copy with each student in the district. This is the only fundraiser of the year for our Foundation and proceeds are used for teacher grants. Hopefully we will have staff members involved competing against each other and student groups also getting involved.

Shoes for the Shoeless: The Church of the Nazarene raised money to pay for tennis shoes and socks for children in our community who did not have appropriate shoes. Five nights were set aside — one for each of our elementary schools — where students could come, be fitted, and receive a new pair of tennis shoes. In all, 466 pair of shoes were distributed to students. Special thanks to everyone who donated money but also to the many volunteers who helped fit the children in their new pair of shoes. Thanks especially to Pastor Mark Atherton, Christy Fielding, Jenni Arnett and Charlene Landis who spearheaded this entire activity.

Student enrollment: Our student enrollment continues to be strong. We are currently 203 students over projections for this school year. Many students who were home schooled, had left under open enrollment, or worked at home online are now returning to our district. People see the wide variety of course offerings we have. We have something for everyone. We also have families moving to Xenia for the schools.

Ohio’s state tests: As you know, Ohio is switching this school year from PARCC (Pearson) math and English language arts to Ohio-specific tests developed by Ohio educators with the American Institutes for Research. However, Ohio will still be receiving student tests results from last year’s PARCC tests along with Ohio’s science and social studies assessments.

The State Board of Education received the performance-level cut score recommendation and projected state-level results of Ohio ‘s state tests in math and language arts from Pearson and science and social studies from AIR earlier this week. Neither is releasing district or building level results yet. After state board approval, the test vendors will apply these performance levels to the raw test scores of Ohio students to produce district and building results, along with parent copies. This will be available later this fall.

Renaissance: Last Friday Bill Richey and John Miller welcomed the Renaissance students and recognized them for their outstanding work in the classrooms for the fourth grading period last school year. Mayor Marsha Bayless and I spoke to the students about getting good grades and doing the right thing. It was a neat event as 441 students were recognized for their efforts. As usual, I was very impressed by the behavior of our students. Words like please and thank you were frequently heard. Kudos to Richey and Miller and congratulations to Renaissance for being in existence now for 20 years.

Kids of character: We have many great kids in Xenia. We want to recognize them. I am not just talking about the star athlete or the straight-A student. I am talking about those kids who come to school every single day, do not get into trouble, do the right thing, get good grades, and are just all-around good kids. We never want to take them for granted. At Monday’s Board of Education Meeting we recognized our first group of “Outstanding Kids of Character” with a Pride Certificate. We will continue this practice each month. Please nominate a student who exhibits these attributes so we can recognize them.

Student achievement fair recognition: Our two programs, “Making STEM Elementary” and “XTAR Young Entrepreneurs Project” that will be at Capital Conference in November will also be recognized at the annual Southwest Region Fall Conference at the Warren County Career Center in October. Advisors Bill Richey and Donna Shaw will be recognized at the fall OSBA Meeting.

High school math: Donna Cook has been selected to receive the Honda-OSU Math Medal Award for the Class of 2016. She was nominated for this award due to her academic performance in math through the end of her junior school year. High school seniors in Southwest Ohio have received this award annually since 2008 from the Honda-OSU Partnership. Donna will be recognized on Oct. 31 at GE Aviation in Cincinnati. In addition to the pewter Math Medal and certificate, this award includes a $100 gift card, and an opportunity to apply for a $3,000 scholarship at The Ohio State University School of Engineering.


By Denny Morrison

Denny Morrison is superintendent of Xenia Community Schools.