Month: August 2018
Hello, We hope families are safe in the aftermath of the significant weather last night. We would like to share that Sneak Peek is moving forward as scheduled with a few minor location adjustments. At this point we have full power at our middle school and will be serving food for the Brat & Burger Bash in the middle school cafeteria (rather than HS as in past years). We will also be moving elementary school pictures to the new ES cafeteria and middle school pictures to the MS gym. We are optimistic that power will be restored at OES and OHS by this afternoon. We do have generator power in both the MS and HS which will allow us to host sneak peek in the event our full power is not back.
We recognize that some families may be dealing with challenges related to wind and water damage at their homes. Please do not feel pressure to attend if those priorities require your attention. Children who are not able to attend sneak peek will have an opportunity for pictures during our retake date.
Here is a summary of this afternoon and evening’s events:
300-700 Lifetouch pictures at OES new cafeteria and OMS gym
330-630 Brat & Burger Bash served in the middle school cafeteria
330-630 Sneak Peek classrooms open
We encourage families to join us for a meal and hope that those of you who do not have power at home may be able to take advantage of the meal being served here. There will be extra food available for those who did not sign up originally.
Good morning, Parents.
You may remember that last spring, we began sharing our plans to not allow cell phones in classrooms this school year. Our policy has always said that cell phones need to be in lockers during class time, but we had gotten lax with the execution of that policy. We also explained that our motivation to keep cell phones out of our classrooms was to protect the focus, attention, and engagement of students, which are all clearly distracted by their presence. Simply put, cell phones in classrooms have a negative effect on learning, so we feel the need to address this reality by completely eliminating them from that setting.
Parent responses to those messages were supportive at a rate of 20+/1. It seems pretty apparent that nearly everyone understands what a powerful distraction and addictive effect cell phones can have on our attention and focus. Of course, when we start implementing this rule, and taking phones away, that is the point where we will very likely get some push back.
I shared an article with the HS faculty this summer about Portage High School’s positive experience with banning cell phones from their classrooms last year, and I thought parents may enjoy a few quotes and ideas from this article as well.
“Portage High School’s ban on cellphones in classrooms is bearing fruit and inspired more than a dozen inquiries from administrators across the US.”
“Principal Robin Kvalo said, ‘Quite frankly, it is one of the best policies we’ve ever implemented.”
Portage HS has 830 students, and last year they confiscated 211 phones from students. 142 of those students were one time offenders who simply forgot to leave their phones in their lockers…a problem that clearly decreased as the school year progressed and students got used to the new expectations. 48 students had their phones taken twice, and 12 students had their phones taken 3 or more times.
At this point it is our plan at OHS to have teachers take away phones if they see them in a students’ possession in their classroom. The teacher will keep the phone until the end of the day when the student can pick it up. If a teacher observes a student using their phone during class and is clearly inattentive as a result, the teacher will take the phone and give it to me and I will keep it overnight—just as we have done the last few years. I return the phone to the student at the end of the next day of school if they have served the associated detention(s). A student who refuses to give the teacher or me their phone is not allowed to stay at school, and when they wish to return, they must give us their phone immediately upon their return and it is usually confiscated for two nights because of their refusal to comply as expected.
The article about Portage HS goes on to say that a recent graduate described the policy as ‘very difficult’ for her and her peers, at least at first, primarily because students are so attached to their phones. But as her senior year went on, she could clearly see the positive side of the rule. She also shared that it became easier to focus on things that needed to get done. It did make it easier to focus on school and become more productive in class.
Principal Kvalo admitted that most students, if polled, would prefer to have their phones and that there would be “loud cheers” if the policy ever got scrapped. But that is okay because we know when we are on our phones, we tune out what is going on around us, and we want students tuned in.
Kvalo also shared that she also put her own phone away, and insisted that teachers do so as well. She said she found it very freeing, and I have had teachers tell me they also feel better without their phones. Not a single teacher told me this is not a good policy.
If you have any questions about these changes, please give me a call at (920) 546-2346 x 4001.
We look forward to seeing your children next Tuesday.
As we’ve done in the past, students will get their school picture taken when families come for Sneak Peak and the Brat, Burger, Brownie Bash on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 from 3 pm – 7 pm. Order forms will be available when you arrive. If you want to preview the order form prior to picture day, click here. You can also order online anytime prior to picture day at http://mylifetouch.com
I certainly hope everyone is having a fun summer and are getting re-energized and excited to start another school year. I know I am! I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again on the 29th.
OMS is in search of a qualified substitute to teach high interest classes every other day in the afternoons (11:30 am-2:30 pm). The assignment would run from Sept. 4th through the first week in November. Qualified applicants must have at least a short-term substitute license or the ability to obtain one. Qualified applicants must hold any associate’s degree or higher from an accredited degree granting institution.
Interested applicants should contact Sherri Stengel at (920) 564-6740.
It’s never too early to start preparing for auditions for the fall musical, Once Upon A Mattress! Follow this Google docs link to see and hear the audition songs and start practicing. Auditions will be during the second week of September.
Greetings OMS Families,
2018-19 Parent Communication – Safety
I hope each of you are enjoying your summer and looking forward to the beginning of our 2018-19 school year. I would like to update families and our community on several important changes which we believe will assist in making our schools safer for students, staff, and guests. School violence continues to impact communities across our nation, and we want to make sure our preparation is intentional and grounded in best practice.
Oostburg School District applied for and received almost $60,000 in state grant funds. Those funds are being used to install corridor partitions at the high school which will isolate our academic wings from lunchroom and entryway areas. The partitions were a recommendation which came from an onsite safety evaluation and review conducted by The Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department.
The safety grant includes requirements related to locking and monitoring doors which will result in some changes for the upcoming school year. In the past, our school doors have been open before 6:00am for guest hallway walkers, fitness activities, and students who arrive early for extra help from teachers. We have also had some students arriving early without a specific reason. Beginning this fall, our doors will not be open until 25 minutes prior to the start of the school day and morning access will be limited. Each building will have a an individual monitoring the primary entrances (West main parking lot for OHS/OMS and West main parking lot at OES) during early morning hours. Our door monitors will provide access for specific reasons beginning at 6:00am at the West high school parking lot doors. Students who have arrived early in the past will not be allowed to enter without permission. We do want to continue access for community use but that access will be more closely monitored through the entrances listed above.
Staff safety training is another area of focus for our district. In the past two years our teachers have received initial training in Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) through The Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department. This fall, all staff members will participate in a large group review training and a more intensive scenario-based training. All training is coordinated and led by law enforcement officers from the Sheriff’s Department. In addition, we have met with our local fire department leaders to ensure that our school crisis response planning is a coordinated effort between all emergency personnel. We are extremely thankful that our Oostburg community has a large law enforcement presence, including many parents of our students who are involved in either law enforcement or some other type of emergency response. Many of those individuals have reached out in offering their support and guidance as we train and prepare for emergencies.
Although we have had secure entrances at each building for several years, we have installed additional video and door security upgrades over the summer. Each entrance has video camera monitoring, and our high school and middle school now have upgrades which allow us to know when exterior doors are ajar. Our elementary school had this capability as part of the recently completed building project.
You may also have noticed our school district’s job posting for a community resource officer. We are in the process of evaluating the opportunities provided through a position of this nature. This evaluation has included discussions with the Sheriff’s Department, Oostburg Christian School and village leaders, as we consider the viability of adding this role. Unfortunately, the state safety grant funds can’t be used for resource officers and restrictions around licensing and jurisdiction present some hurdles which we continue to navigate. We do believe a resource officer has the potential to bring significant benefit to our community and will continue pursuing avenues related to this role.
In summary, we want stakeholders to know that student safety is a top priority, and our safety planning is intentional and research-based, including heavy collaboration with local law enforcement. We all share a hope that we are never required to utilize this training in response to a actual threat.