Arcanum School Board discusses student-focused programs

By Dawn Hatfield
DailyAdvocate.com

ARCANUM — The Arcanum-Butler School Board met Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. All three building principals shone a bright spotlight on PBIS plans for the new year. PBIS, which stands for “Positive Behaviors, Interventions and Supports,” is a tier-based system that reaches all students. PBIS promotes school safety and good behavior by teaching expectations and strategies to students. Its focus is on prevention, not punishment. The elementary’s theme for the year, “The Energy Bus” book for kids, is a perfect complement to the PBIS system. A quick YouTube search of “Jon Gordon Reading The Energy Bus for kids” will give the audience a chance to hear this story read in its entirety by author, Jon Gordon. It is of special note that Gordon, during his reading (at 3:37 on the video), chose to leave in mistakes that he made, turned to the students and said, “Alright, see how I just messed up, kids? That’s gonna happen — sometimes we mess up in life. We just have to keep on going!” The entirety of the elementary school’s 2021-2022 theme is seemingly summed up in this one statement by Jon Gordon to his fans.

Additionally, the district reported on the schools’ work towards Purple Heart School designations, and the high school was proud to announce the culmination of their Heroes Project which dovetails perfectly with Purple Heart goals.

New Business began with a report from each of the district’s three principals. Ms. Joni Pechie, principal of Arcanum-Butler Elementary school, stated the first Kindergarten Readiness Camp was a huge success with more than 60 students in attendance. New Student Orientation and Open House were strongly attended on Aug. 24 and 30, respectively. Cheerleaders and football players also participated in Youth Night on Aug. 20. Trojan Way Day on Sept. 3 rotated students through stations to review expectations for proper hallway, handwashing/restroom, cafeteria, playground safety, and pick up procedures, and required bus evacuation drills and the first fire drill were completed the previous week. Pechie reported CIP (Continuous Improvement Plan) will focus on student and family engagement (full plan with mission statement is available on district website) and PBIS. Planning for the annual “Start with Hello Week” is underway, which promotes kindness and builds empathy in the classroom. STAR assessment is has begun to obtain baseline levels for all students and develop needed individual intervention plans. Grades K-to-4 enrollment was reported at 399 students.

Mr. Jason Vince, Arcanum-Butler Middle School Principal, updated the board on recent happenings. Chromebooks were distributed to all students, which will provide staff tools to enhance lesson development and delivery, and new interactive whiteboards were installed in four of the middle school classrooms. Sept. 3 was First Friday/Spirit Friday where students were encouraged to show Trojan pride by wearing orange and black; 5th grade won week one with an 89-percent participation rate. Kona Ice also came on Sept. 3 as part of the PBIS program where 25 percent of proceeds go directly back into PBIS for the students; one student in each grade level is recognized each month for their positive attitude and great classroom effort. The Middle School Mentor Program, entering its third year, will focus on various character education lessons each Monday; grade 5 will use “Second Step” and grades 6 to 8 will use “The Harbor” by Jostens. Several local companies will partner with Arcanum-Butler Middle School in support of the PBIS program: Garbig & Schmidt, Greenville National Bank, Jafe Decorating, RJ Warner Insurance, and Hot Head Burrito in Greenville. All 6th-grade students were enrolled in a Boost Math and Boost ELA class where they will receive additional support and enrichment lessons in each subject. The “Remind” app is being used to provide weekly parent communication with 85 to 90 percent family participation. The app will be especially helpful during the first few weeks as student agenda books are currently delayed in California. EnhanceU, a program in the Advanced Health & PE course, is being utilized with 7th and 8th graders who are enrolled. Fall sports are currently underway, and the junior high teams are off to a great start. Grades 5 to 8 (including AVA) enrollment was reported at 330 students.

Arcanum-Butler High School Principal Jason Stephan reported a primary goal in 2021-2022 is to continue implementing college and career readiness plans for students with job shadowing, college visits, and implementation of a full pre-apprenticeship program for specific career fields. Furthermore, a fall ACT testing option and ACT Boot Camp will be offered in October; students may register on the district website. Stephan met with students and staff during the first week to reiterate goals and expectations for high school, including the foundational beliefs of accountability, honor and service. The high school will continue to select a Student of the Month who demonstrates these traits. Judson Laipply, an Ohio native and motivational speaker, provided a great opening-day message. Students will compete in “Clash of the Classes” this year to promote academics, involvement, behavior, and school spirit; the winning class will receive a special lunch in the spring. Washington, D.C. trips and possible fundraising and donation ideas were discussed; another One Call with details will go out to families soon. The Heroes Project is up and running at the high school with a new digital display at the front entrance. Special congratulations were afforded to Laney Fourman, Madelyn Fearon, and Luke Brinksneader who finished in the top three at the Showman of Showmen competition at the Great Darke County Fair. High school enrollment (including MVCTC, AVA and Adult Education) was reported at 340 students.

Upcoming events were also noted. Sept. 20 to 24 will be Homecoming Week with the parade on Thursday, Sept. 23, game on Friday, and dance following on Saturday. There is also a district-wide two-hour early release scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 29.

Superintendent of schools, Mr. John Stephens, followed with a report on the school district. Superintendents met with Dr. Terrence Holman, DVM, RS, Darke County Health Commissioner, on Friday, Sept. 10. As of Monday, Sept. 13, there were 15 students and 3 staff members with positive COVID results in the district; the school will continue to monitor cases and work with the local health district. The school district has some COVID tests available to distribute to families who request them. All three schools are working towards Purple Heart Schools designation and Principal Stephens updated the board on the Purple Heart Village celebration to be held Sept. 21; some band students will perform in the ceremony. Ohio School Report Cards will be available in October; changes are coming as the letter grade system is replaced by a star system. A 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony was held Sept. 10; a student played “Taps” as staff and students paid tribute to the 20th anniversary. House Bill 110, signed by Governor DeWine in July and set to take effect on Sept. 28, was addressed specifically in terms of changes to the vetting of new teacher hires and the addition of harmful effects of vaping to health education. Stephens reminded board that vaccines without FDA approval cannot be required in the school district. President Biden’s announcement on Sept. 9 regarding the pending OSHA rule updates to mandate vaccines or weekly COVID testing affects only private businesses of 100 or more employees and does not impact the public school district at 126 employees. Second and third rounds of ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) Funds have not yet been released. AVA (Arcanum Virtual Academy) enrollment is full at approximately 50 full-time students, but there is some room for current students who may need to attend part time. AELC (Arcanum Early Learning Center) had a successful start and is at full capacity with 80 preschool students. Approximately a dozen students attend ACES (Achievement Center for Educational Success)/Gateway in Greenville for alternative education. The total district enrollment is approximated at 1,068 to 1,072 students with 1,066 being the previous year’s enrollment.

Financial and personnel considerations followed with a request of an expenditure of $8,662 to Heeter Plumbing, LLC for a new water heater, which was unanimously approved, as well as a one-year classified contract for Susanna Knaus, and substitute approvals of Kacie Langley (classified) and Sarah Kuskie (nursing). Request to compensate Kindergarten Readiness Camp teachers at $35/hour was unanimously approved. Requests to approve the usage agreement with Arcanum Youth Basketball for 2021-22 and to adjust the start time of the Trojan Spirit Fest were also approved by all board members.

The community can keep up to date with Arcanum Schools on Twitter @ArcanumHS, Instagram @arcanumhs_trojans, or Facebook Arcanum Butler Local Schools. Please see the sports schedule on the district website at arcanumtrojans.com/events.

Dawn Hatfield covers education stories for The Daily Advocate. Have a school-related event to share? Reach out by email at [email protected] or by phone at 937-569-0066.