By DEANNE LEBLANC
Board of Education recognizes student ambassador
The Francis Howell School District Board of Education welcomes the district’s best and brightest students to sit with them at meetings during the school year.
For October, the board representative was Elise Kaminski from Francis Howell High. Kaminski scored a perfect 36 on the ACT test and had a 4.81 GPA, even while taking five Advanced Placement (AP) classes this year – statistics, psychology, French, English literature and physics.
“Elise’s outstanding academic credentials inspire us all to think about what is possible and remove the limits we may place on our own talents and interests. More importantly, however, Elise’s intrepid, joyful approach to learning reminds us of how wonderful exploring the possibilities can be and how education is much more than finding a single correct answer,” Francis Howell Principal Dr. Dave Wedlock said.
Kaminski also is involved in the Francis Howell Women’s Chamber Choir, Chemistry Club and Mu Alpha Theta (Math Club) and is a competitive swimmer.
Kaminski is applying to colleges and hopes to major in chemical engineering.
As a model student, she offered some advice on how to get the most out of high school.
“Just getting involved is huge,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and make opportunities. You can’t wait for them to come; you have to go out there and go for it.”
High marks for local districts
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has released its Annual Performance Report data for school districts around the state.
Scoring 138 points out of a possible 140 (98.6 percent) were the Francis Howell and Fort Zumwalt school districts, with the Wentzville School District close behind, scoring 133.5 points or 95.4 percent.
Now in its third year, the new report is part of the Missouri School Improvement Plan, a more rigorous evaluation tool for rating the performance of Missouri school districts. The plan measures five areas of performance within a district: academic achievement, subgroup achievement, college and career readiness, attendance and graduation rate.
The school improvement plan is used to distinguish the performance of schools and districts in valid, accurate and meaningful ways so that districts in need of improvement can receive appropriate support and interventions, and high-performing districts can be recognized as models of excellence.
Wentzville scored a perfect 100 percent in academic achievement and graduation rate, but did not receive all possible points in the attendance category.
Acknowledging these results, Superintendent Curtis Cain said, “While this is wonderful news, it is also a reminder to our students and their parents about the importance of good attendance. Studies show that children with better attendance have higher achievement, which is why the department emphasizes this important metric when evaluating school districts.”
Deputy superintendent invited to Washington, D.C.
Fort Zumwalt School District Deputy Superintendent Patty Corum has been asked to join Assistant Commissioner Paul Katnik of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as he presents Missouri’s new teacher evaluation program to the U.S. Department of Education.
Missouri is one of five states asked to present their models to other states as they move to implement new teacher evaluation systems.
Corum said Katnik asked if she could attend because Fort Zumwalt School District has already used the state model to develop and implement a new teacher evaluation program. That hands-on experience is something DESE wants to share with other states. As one of the largest districts in Missouri, Fort Zumwalt is at the forefront of the new evaluation program, having piloted it last year with most teachers in most of its 24 schools.
“Our teachers are excited … and so are our administrators,” Corum said. She added that the new evaluation system puts different measures in place for teachers just starting their careers than it puts in place for veteran teachers.
The new evaluation system focuses on teacher growth and student achievement through a set of standards that are measured across a school year, rather than a series of arbitrary criteria administrators check off at the end of the school year.
Students vie for national awards
Nine students from Francis Howell Central and their publications department were nominated as finalists in the National Scholastic Press Association’s individual award competitions.
Work they completed in 2014-15 now will go up against that of other students across the nation.
Matthew Schott, who directs the Publications Department at FHC, said he is pleasantly surprised by how many nominees the school has this year.
“We now live in a world where so much is shared (mostly via social media),” Schott said. “The entire point behind publications classes and journalism is to share quality work in a responsible way. That’s helping those students be better prepared to be a part of a sharing economy and world.”
Seniors Morgan Brader and Melissa Wyas teamed up with 2015 grad Emily Herd on the design of the school’s newsmagazine, The Central Focus. Their cover was nominated for Design of the Year.
For Picture of the Year categories, two Francis Howell Central students were nominated. Class of 2015 grad Frank Lunatto’s picture from the school’s Odyssey publication is nominated in the Picture of the Year subcategory, Feature Pictures. Sophomore Alexis LaBarge is nominated for a subcategory of Picture of the Year, Sports Reaction. LaBarge’s collaboration with leaders on the Francis Howell Central publications crew was nominated in another category, Multimedia Story of the Year. LaBarge worked with junior Eden Gundersen and 2015 grads Jerianne Harrison and Kayla Schoenig to pin down third place in the online publication category with FHC Today.
In the past 10 years, only one student has been nominated for these awards. This year has nine students nominated. They will learn where they have finished at the NSPA national convention in mid-November.
Youth artists sought for competition
Missouri students ages 6 to 17 who also are aspiring artists are being encouraged to get out their art supplies and create an illustration of the theme “Air Sports in Harmony with Nature” for the 2016 International Aviation Art Contest.
All artwork must be done by hand in any of the following media: watercolor, acrylic, oil paint, indelible marker pens, felt-tip pens, soft ball-point pens, inedible ink, Crayola or any similar indelible medium. Entries are judged in three age classes for creative use of the theme.
Entries from Missouri youth will be evaluated by MoDOT employees. Winners will advance to national and possible international levels of the contest. All artwork must be postmarked and received by Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Entries should be mailed to: Missouri Department of Transportation, Attn: Teresa Hall, P.O. Box 270, Jefferson City, MO 65102. Additional information is available at www.nasao.org/education.