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R-1 Board Looks at Facility Needs; Music Department Is Spotlighted

Music was a focus of the Ava R-1 Board of Education’s October meeting Tuesday night.

Elementary music teacher Barbara Deegan, middle and high school band teachers Chris and Sarah Sacco, and high school vocal music teacher Michelle Wolfskill were recognized by building administrators and the Board of Education.

Elementary Principal Diane Premer said Mrs. Deegan “teaches kids to love music.” Mrs. Premer said the elementary school performs at least seven concerts each year, and Deegan has also established a violin program that is very popular with the students and their parents.

Middle School Principal Mike Henry and High School Principal Teresa Nash expressed appreciation to the husband/wife team of Chris and Sarah Sacco. Chris has charge of the middle school band and Sarah directs the high school band, but the couple are also team teaching. Chris Sacco promised that the Ava Christmas Parade will be a special feature this year with a marching band made up of students from 7th through 12th grade.

Mrs. Deegan also expressed appreciation to the Board of Education for their support of the school’s music program.

Mr. Henry commented that the Saccos have done a great job in building enthusiasm in the band and encouraging students in the program.

It was noted that Mrs. Wolfskill has taken on drama in addition to her duties as vocal music teacher, and several accomplishments of her students were mentioned.

Also recognized by the board in the Community Spotlight portion of the meeting was the City of Ava.

Mayor Eddie Maggard and Administrative Director Peggy Porter accepted a certificate of appreciation from Board President Randy Spurlock.

Superintendent Dr. Brian Wilson said the city assists the school in many ways that often go unnoticed, such as helping with lights at the ball fields.

Later in the meeting, the board also voted to partner with the city in a grant application for additional sidewalks as part of the Safe Schools Act.

Dr. Wilson reported again at the October meeting on the Proposition B cigarette tax measure that will be on the November ballot. This proposal will raise the tax on cigarettes by 73 cents per pack.

Dr. Wilson said while education will benefit from the measure, it was not initiated by educators, but rather by the Cancer Society as a measure to reduce tobacco use.

With approval, Missouri’s tobacco tax would be 90 cents, still well below the national average of $1.46, he said.

Ava R-1 stands to gain from $200,000 to $300,000 in additional revenue from the tax, if it is approved by voters.

Board members reported on the Fall Conference of the Missouri School Boards Association, and tied to that, President Spurlock said arrangements have been made for Ava to host a political forum in December.

Representatives from all schools in the area will be invited to attend the meeting at the Ava Performing Arts Center to discuss political issues with elected officials.

Special Services Director Connie Lee presented the Special Education Program Review that was unanimously approved by the board.

In her report Mrs. Lee noted both strengths and needs of the program.

Concerns especially noted are heavy caseloads and the need for additional staff.

Strengths of the program are caring, hardworking staff; MAP-A Classrooms; good organization of the special education process; and inclusion of special education students in the regular classroom environment.

Mrs. Lee recommended the addition of a staff member to be shared by the middle school and high school.

Also given unanimous approval was a Facilities and Ground Program Review.

In this report, Dr. Wilson said an architect has been contacted to examine the structural foundation under the football field bleachers that seems to be deteriorating and is a safety concern.

Renovation of the football facility has been and remains a high priority in regard to capital improvements and maintenance issues.

Also high on the list is a new Early Childhood Center, a covered entrance for the middle school gym and air-conditioning of the middle school gym.

Other items on the needs list includes a pole barn for buses, a walk-in cooler for the MS/HS cafeteria, and additional parking.

Board members and administrators were asked to prioritize a capital improvements list for 2013-2014.

Bears Den Director David Williams reported on the 21st Century project that includes the after school program, and Assistant Superintendent Nancy Lawler reported on the state’s Model Curriculum.

Mr. Williams explained a new checklist that has been developed for students who desire or need tutoring. Williams emphasized that the school will work with students who need tutoring, and will meet the student’s time schedule.

He said no student will be turned down because of their time frame. “We will work with them; we will not turn a student down,” he emphasized.

Dr. Wilson also elaborated on changes involved in the transition from MSIP 4 to MSIP 5.

Student attendance and graduation rates will be major issues in the revised Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP).

Principals’ and directors’ reports were submitted to the board, with some of the highlights listed below.

Ava Elementary School

Mrs. Premer reported 95.58 percent attendance in October in kindergarten through grade 4. This is down slightly form 96.7 percent in September. It was also noted that enrollment has dropped slightly during the past month, from 488 to 482 students.

She said three classes earned an attendance party for September.  Mrs. Heckendorn, first grade, Mrs. Philpott, second grade, and Mrs. Loftin, third grade had perfect attendance 15 out of 18 days in the month of August.  They all celebrated with popcorn and Capri Sun.

Students at the elementary are being recognized for demonstrating expected behaviors.  The students are earning “Bear Bucks.”  Students can earn individual rewards and classrooms work as a group to collect 100 Bear Bucks to earn a celebration.  Some of the classrooms have enjoyed extra recesses, popcorn parties, a storyteller, pajama and hat days.

Teachers can also earn Bear Bucks by demonstrating teamwork, and providing a caring and positive climate.

The elementary students recently had the opportunity to have their hearing checked free of charge by the Lions Club.

The technology and maintenance crews are in the process of installing our new touch screen white boards that were purchased with the money that was raised last year by selling cookie dough.  Students and teachers are very excited as each new board goes up, Mrs. Premer said.

McTeacher Night was held at McDonald’s on Tuesday, Oct. 2.  Elementary teachers worked from 4 to 8 p.m.  The money raised will go to purchase more touch screen white boards for the classrooms.

Five more are needed for each homeroom to have a touch screen.

Elementary students enjoyed FFA’s Food for American Day.  Third and fourth grade students listened to FFA students share where some of our favorite foods come from.  All students enjoyed the petting zoo set up by the Ag Building.

Ava Middle School

Attendance in the middle school for September 2012 is 96.19 percent with 375 students enrolled in grades 5-8.

Things continue to be busy at Ava Middle School as fall sports are wrapped up and they are gearing up for basketball.

The 7th grade volleyball team ended up at 3-7 and got first place in the Cabool Tournament. The 8th grade ended up at 5-5 and got third in the Cabool Tournament.

Seventh and 8th grade football teams were both 3-2 with one more game to play at the time the report was written.

Basketball practice is beginning and the first games will be played on Nov. 13.

September’s character word of the month was Citizenship.

Middle school Students of the Month were: 5th Grade:  Shiloh Searcy & Isaiah Hendrix; 6th Grade:  Grace Stewart & Cade Verhage; 7th Grade:  Belle Giorgianni & Bailey Bewley; and 8th Grade:  Morgan Miller & Caleb Johnson.

October’s word is Respect.

Parent/Teacher Conference Night is on Oct. 25.  AMS teachers will be available from 1-8 p.m.  Parents will be contacted and urged to participate.

National Junior Honor Society inductions have been made.  On Sept. 23, NJHS had their ceremony to welcome new members.

Student Council elections were held and officers and representatives have been put in place. Officers are President Lacy Diel, Vice President Eli Maggard, Secretary Chandler Roberts.

Class representatives are: 5th grade:  Sydney Snelson, Emaly Keyes, Claire Fossett, Coby Souder, Nate Swofford, Jacob Gillies; 6th grade:  Lauren Mendel, Jess Stafford, Hailey Lansdown, Kate McDonald, Stephen Copeland, Drake King, Caleb Johnson; 7th Grade:  Kathrin Buff, Haylee Hare, Belle Giorgianni, Weston Stillings, Connor Moran, AJ VanValkenburg; and 8th grade:  Shelby Bushong, Kira Collett, Emily Bailey, Chase Dodson, Anthony Rosas, Tyler Johnson.

Ava High School

Mrs. Nash reported enrollment of 456 students in high school in September, with 95.47 percent attendance, well up from 93.82 percent a year ago.

The report also shows quite a significant drop in discipline referrals from a year ago, from 134 in 2011 to 85 this year.

Sophomores won the AHS Monthly Attendance Challenge.  Cookies were delivered to the sophomore’s Bears Time classes.

October Academic Students of the Month are Zach Taylor and Hannah Dudley.

It was also reported that the Ava Pride Marching Band received 2nd place in their class at the Valhalla Marching Band Festival.

Mrs. Nash reported that almost 97 percent of the students have signed up for the random drug testing program.

AHS football players and coaches were recently complimented by game officials for sportsmanship shown on the field at the Houston game.

Homecoming Week was Sept. 24-29.  All students and staff had a great time and Ava Middle School participated in the parade with their shopping cart floats along with the high school.

Mrs. Nash said many positive comments were received from the community for the outstanding Homecoming Parade.

Congratulations to Homecoming Queen Cori Dry and Homecoming King Dakota Renner.

It was noted that the Ava High School Echo can be viewed and read online.  The October issue is out, and archived issues can be found at “The students who create our school newspaper are working very hard and have made some positive changes in the format of the Echo,” Mrs. Nash said.

First quarter attendance appeals will be held during Parent/Teacher Conferences on Oct. 24. Any student who is over the attendance limit may schedule an appointment through Mrs. Matney, AHS attendance secretary, in order to meet with the committee to appeal grade reduction.

Prom has been scheduled for April 6. The Veridian in Springfield has once again been reserved as the location.

Several complimentary notes were made regarding the Ava High School FFA Chapter.

Ava High graduate Abby Dean will receive her American FFA Degree at National FFA Convention. This is the highest degree a member can receive.

Ava FFA will receive 3-Star National Chapter Activities recognition at National Convention, which is the highest ranking for a chapter and puts Ava in the Top 5% of all chapters in the organization.

Two members will be recognized on stage at National Convention to accept this award. Ava was a 2-star chapter in 2011.

As noted in Mrs. Premer’s elementary report, FFA members hosted a Food for America program for the elementary school which included a petting zoo and farm equipment display on Oct. 3.

FFA members earned their way to FFA Camp and Washington Leadership Conference by cleaning out stalls at the Foxtrotters. Students cleaned 118 stalls during the fall Show and Celebration.

In other club activities, Fellowship of Christian Athletes would be hosting Fields of Faith on Wednesday, Oct. 10, in the high school gym. This year’s event had the most students participating in five years.

FBLA has had two bake sales during the month of October. They also visited the Monster Corn Maze on Oct. 13 with several other clubs including NHS, TREND, and StuCo. FBLA will also be attending FBLA Day at Silver Dollar City on Oct. 20.

Student Council (StuCo) is currently in the process of planning the Hoopcoming theme for basketball season.

They have participated in the annual Donna Cox Walk as well as a magazine fundraiser to raise funds for Hoopcoming and other upcoming events.

During Homecoming Week, StuCo organized the Homecoming Parade and had approximately 14 shopping cart floats between high school and middle school clubs and classrooms. First place in the middle school went to the 6th grade and 2nd place went to 5th grade. In the high school, Art Club took 1st place and yearbook 2nd.

Bears Den Program

Mr. Williams, director, reported that the Cupcakes and Crowns on Oct. 11 had 200 young ladies and their mothers registered for attendance.

Demolition/construction in the HS stucco building for the new archery room is nearing completion.  He said they hope to have the program running by second quarter.

Mr. Davison has received delivery of his CNC machine.  Using software purchased through a generous gift from Copeland, Mr. Davison plans to start offering classes in the Bears Den for middle and high school students, as well as adults.

Bears Den will be in operation from 12:30-6:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 during parent/teacher conferences. Since teachers will be in their rooms, Bears Den plans to hold special activities in the gymnasiums and Performing Arts Center.

Driver’s Ed in the High School Bears Den will come to a close on Nov. 2. The plan is to restart the program in March once full daylight returns during program hours.

All board members were present for Tuesday’s meeting.

The November meeting was set for Thursday, Nov. 15, at 6:30 p.m.