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Bulletin Board: Students help ‘stomp out poverty’

Students from Sts. Joachim and Ann with gifts collected for local families in need.

Students from Sts. Joachim and Ann with gifts collected for local families in need.

Students help ‘stomp out poverty’

Students at Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic School in St. Charles helped local families “Stomp Out Poverty” this holiday season.

Students collected and wrapped bedtime items such as pajamas, slippers and books for local boys and girls through the Adopt a Family program at Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service. In return for a donation, students were able to wear boots to school for a day.


Getting up to code 

The U.S. Department of Labor forecasts that by the year 2022, the nation will add around 1.2 million new computer science-related jobs to the workforce. However, in the United States, advanced placement in computer science courses has zeroed out.

Enter “Hour of Code,” a movement designed to develop computer science skills in students by encouraging them to participate in a one-hour introductory course designed to demystify computer science and show that anybody can learn the basics of writing computer code.

“Students as early as kindergarten and first grade were introduced to coding skills by first learning directional words like forward, backward, turn right, or turn left,” said Mellissa Kirchoff, a teacher at Fairmount Elementary, one of the local schools that embraced an Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 8-14. “They practiced using these terms by giving each other directions to move from one location to another in the classroom. Then they were ready to start coding.

“Second-graders through fifth-graders began their Hour of Code by watching a video clip featuring computer experts such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.”

Danielle Krahl, paraprofessional at John Weldon Elementary, said students who learn how to code do better in math and science classes, on standardized state tests, and on high school and college placement tests.

“It’s an excellent career field with tremendous growth and opportunity,” Krahl said.


Fort Zumwalt South senior exemplifies leadership

Fort Zumwalt South High senior Cameron Leahy has a fitting nickname – Mr. President.

Leahy is the president of the National Honor Society, president of his senior class, co-president of the Future Business Leaders of America and president of  O’Fallon’s Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council. But don’t assume you’ll see his name on a ballot someday.

“When it comes to running for public office, there’s too much pandering, too much politics,” Leahy said. “There’s not enough policy.”

Leahy already has a Presidential Scholarship to Tulane University, but at the end of first semester was waiting for word from other schools, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia and the University of Chicago. His hope is to study law and eventually go into diplomacy and shape international relations by advising elected officials.

Leahy will get a taste of Washington, D.C., in March when he will spend a week there as part of the United States Senate Youth Program. Only two students from each state are chosen, and the award includes a $5,000 scholarship.


Eagle Scout earns perfect ACT

Jack Greer, a member of Boy Scout Troop 984 sponsored by Dardenne Presbyterian Church, not only achieved his Eagle Scout rank in 2014, but he also scored a perfect 36 on the ACT exam.

The Timberland High student was named a Commended Student in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program. Commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2015 competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test.

For his Eagle project, Greer built a youth fire ring complete with a fire pit and seating area at the Benchrest Rifle Club in Wright City. The project took more than 250 hours to complete, and was made possible through the help of two dozen Scouts and adults.


St. Dominic grad named commissioner of education

Dr. Margie (Molitor) Vandeven has been named the 6th Commissioner of Education for the state of Missouri, replacing Dr. Chris L. Nicastro, who retired on Dec. 31.

State Board of Education members who choose Vandeven for the position cited her strong background in education and extensive knowledge of education policy at the state and federal level as preparing her for the position. Her proven leadership in multiple capacities in the department shows she is ready for the challenge. They also cited her drive and determination to make the Top 10 by 20 plan a reality.

Missouri’s Top 10 by 20 initiative is a major improvement effort that aims for student achievement in Missouri to rank among the top 10 states by 2020. The plan’s four goals include graduating all Missouri children ready for college and career; preparing all children for success in kindergarten; preparing, developing and supporting effective educators; and improving the Missouri Department of Education’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Dr. Vandeven brings 24 years of education experience to the role, including the last nine years at the department. Dr. Vandeven’s previous experience consists of 13 years as an English language arts teacher and administrator in private schools in Missouri and Maryland, including St. Dominic High. She graduated from St. Dominic High School in O’Fallon in 1986 and also served as an Academic Dean for the school.


Francis Howell approves 2016-17 calendar

A new two-year calendar extending through the 2016-17 academic year for schools within the Francis Howell School District has been approved by the board of education.

The calendar, which was unanimously approved by the board during a meeting on Dec. 18, has an Aug. 11 start date for students in 2015 and an Aug. 9 start date in 2016, according to the calendar. Teachers are generally to return no earlier than Aug. 1 of both years. Unless delayed by unplanned snow days, students should have last days before Memorial Day each year, and graduations remain on the first Saturday in June, according to the calendars.

Students receive a six-day fall break both years, followed by 10-day Christmas breaks, and a six-day spring break in 2016 and a five-day spring break in 2017. Spring breaks are scheduled to occur one week earlier than in the recent past, according to a summary provided by G. Steven Griggs, the district’s chief human resources officer.

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