2010-03-20 / Schools

Lakewood students create vision of the future

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON – Lakewood School Board members caught a vision of the future during their March 10 meeting – from a seventh grader’s perspective.

Future City Team members and seventh graders Sarah Beard, Kayann Hoffman, Jenna Aldridge, and eighth grader Kiki Hudson presented a model of Isengard to the board. The fictional city, named for a fortress in author J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novels, won an award in January for best infrastructure during the Future City competition at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus. The competition gives students an opportunity to learn about engineering, technology, research, teamwork, and public speaking.

Beard explained that the competition has several requirements. “First we must research and write a 700 to 1,000 word essay on an assigned question,” she said, which was “how to provide a green living space for people who have lost their homes to a disaster or financial emergency.” She said the team creates a city placed 150 years in the future on SimCity software.

The city must have a population of 50,000 or more, cannot have taxes lower than eight percent, and must have a balanced budget, among other requirements. The students then build a scale model and present it to a panel of engineer judges. “This year we decided to place our city at the confluence of the Kansas and Wakarusa rivers,” said Beard. Engineer mentors Vern Johnston and Tim Weisert, and Lakewood teacher Pamela Hundley assisted the students.

In other business March 10, Nick Fuentes, a Lakewood High School junior and Life Scout, who is working on his Eagle rank, proposed replacing a walking bridge in the land lab area as his Eagle service project. The bridge, behind the Jackson building and softball fields, is in disrepair and crosses a narrow stream. Board members approved his project.

Lakewood parent Melody Wollenberg asked the board if Lakewood is eliminating intervention teachers.

Superintendent Jay Gault said elimination is only based on the number of students in the district. All students on Individualized Education Programs will have help. This is according to state law.Wollenberg said she has a special needs daughter whom she believes was denied help. “Where’s the caring at Lakewood,” she said. Wollenberg said statistics show Lakewood isn’t doing well with special needs students.

“We absolutely care about every child in the system,” said board president Joe Bowman, Jr. “We’re concerned about each and every kid.”

Gault said Monday that no special education teachers were cut, but three retired and were not replaced for financial reasons. He reiterated that all IEP students receive required help. Budget restraints stop the district from replacing retired teachers since an 8.9 mills levy failed in November 2009. Gault said the voters sent a clear message that the district was not to replace teachers when they voted down the levy.

In a related issue, Gault said the district would mail informational flyers March 22 about the district’s next attempt to pass a levy. He said more than 100 people are serving on the levy committee.

Gault said the make up days for the over-the-limit snow days will be June 2 and 3, and the teacher workday is June 4, barring any more snow or calamity days.

Director of Pupil Services Arnie Ettenhofer updated board members about academic testing. He said Lakewood participated in a pilot program called Alternative Assessment based on Modified Achievement Standards, or AAMAS, last month. AA-MAS is a field test the Ohio Department of Education is developing for eligible students with an Individualized Education Program. ODE wants to use this new tool soon to assess students more appropriately who are on IEPs, and give students and schools credit for progress.

Selected students in grades five through eight and 10 took the AA-MAS in reading or math. Some took both tests. Ettenhofer said this was a great opportunity for students and staff to help “pilot” this new test. Individual test results will not be available from the field tests.

Ettenhofer said that in March or April Lakewood students would participate in either the Ohio Graduation Test or the Ohio Achievement Assessments. Those who participated in the Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities test have already completed requirements.

All tenth graders (and eleventh and twelfth graders who still have tests to pass) will take OGTs in reading, math, writing, science, and social studies through March 19. All tests must be passed to graduate. Make-up tests are the following week.

The OAAs will be administered from April 19 to 27. All third and eighth graders participate. All students take reading and math and the fifth and eighth graders also take science.

Ettenhofer said that students’ scores will determine how many of the 24 academic indicators Lakewood will meet on this year’s State Report Card. Attendance and graduation rates are the basis for two more indicators, making a total of 26. This is four fewer than the 30 indicator calculated the last three years’ because ODE placed writing (grades fourth and seventh) and social studies (fifth and eighth grades) on a two year “no test” moratorium.

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