Nearly two years after district residents rejected the largest referendum in Oregon School District history, board members will meet next month to lay the groundwork for a possible referendum next year.
With time quickly running out to get a question on the April ballot, district superintendent Brian Busler said it was more important that district officials take their time on the issue than try to get something done for next spring.
“One thing we took back (from discussions with community and consultants) was we didn’t want to rush this,” he said. “There was a sense that last time, maybe we did this too quickly.”
Photos by Scott De Laruelle.
LIfE program students Dylan Noeske, Corey Evans, David Thompson, Gabrelle Kelley and Dusty Holmes celebrate a successful – and tasty – Thanksgiving meal at Oregon High School last week. Everyone pitched during the week to fix a grand meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, corn, broccoli and pumpkin pie.
LIfE program students Dylan Noeske and Dusty Holmes, program director Elisa Ried and students Gabrelle Kelley and David Thompson sit down to chat after a Thanksgiving meal last week.
For recent high school graduates, going back to school – for any reason – is probably not on the top of the list.
But for the dozen or so participants in the LIfE (Lifelong Independence for Everyone) program hosted at Oregon High School and funded by the school district, it’s a place to find hope and help as they learn to live more independent adult lives.
Room 631 serves as a place of respite, a clubhouse, discussion room and – last Thursday afternoon – early Thanksgiving dinner for program director Elisa Ried and 11 recent high school graduates under her care, all age 18-21.
Hired by the district in 2001 to work with students with intellectual disabilities, Ried has coordinated the LIfE program since its inception in fall 2008.
Since students legally can attend school until they are 21 – even after earning their diploma – they can be part of the program, which helps them with job and social skills.
Kindschi traveling through the Sahara Desert in style in a camel caravan.
“If it’s something you really want to do, you’ll make it happen somehow.”
It was those words of parental advice that rang in young Lou Kindschi’s ears as she dreamed of her future from a small dairy farm in Marshall.
Since she was young, she’d wanted to learn about the world and other cultures. When it came time to graduate from high school, she’d worked and saved for college, promising herself to use the opportunity to travel abroad.
She hasn’t stopped since.
Now coming up on a decade into a distinguished teaching career at Oregon High School, she’s using her globe-trotting studies to help students find their way in an increasingly global society and workplace.
Looking to a possible referendum in the near future, Oregon School District residents, stakeholders and staff want to see safer and larger school facilities, and they want it sooner than later.
That’s some of the findings of four recent focus group sessions, summed up at Monday night’s school board meeting by independent researcher Joe Donovan. The president of the Milwaukee-based “Donovan Group” that conducted four area focus group sessions last month said safety is the predominant theme throughout the focus groups.
“It was the single-most important facet of the district’s vision statements,” he said, noting the group also discussed communication with the public and possible capital projects to include in a referendum.
Students at Brooklyn Elementary School raised funds for the Parent Teacher Organization in October. The students raised around $5,000. As an incentive, students got to duct tape their principal, Kerri Modjeski, to the wall. Students had big smiles on their faces while they put strips of colorful duct tape to adhere her to the wall in the gym. It eventually held her up in the air. (She was standing on a chair to begin with.)
Front row, from left: Keith Arndt, Sara Lubbers, Jami Hubatch, Sue Wickhem, Eileen Collins, Anita Koehler, Pam Sengos, Carol Herrmann and Mary Kay Gillepsie; back row, from left: Jayney Wick, Andrea Fuller, Tori Whitish, Tim Martinelli, Dawn Goltz and Michelle Kretschman; not pictured: Diane Jaeggi, Carol Wilson, Nancy Outhouse, Abby Hood, Maria Schulz, Dan Howard, Dawn Hans, Kevin Gasner and Pam Williams.
When it comes to making a difference in the lives of Oregon students, district administrators believe that its teachers and support staff are second to none.
To help publicize the good deeds done by these folks, the district recently announced its 2013 Make A Difference award winners, continuing a trend that started a few years ago with a discussion between administrators and school board members of recognizing excellent work, said Oregon School District Administrator Dr. Brian Busler.
“We talked about setting up a program where we could recognize individuals,” he said. “They are really improving students’ lives and this great Oregon community and we’re proud of them.”
The process is simple – the school principals are asked each year to nominate staff members and accept nominations from staff members.
Photo by Scott De Laruelle.
Foreign exchange students expanding their horizons at Oregon High School this semester are, from left: Hussein Badran (Lebanon), Mathias Gregersen (Denmark), Therese Jordaan (South Africa), Sarah Muench (Germany), Sabina Osmanli (Azerbaijan) Bianca Helbach (Germany), Sebastian Scheller (Germany) and Claudia Steiner (Austria).
OHS foreign exchange student Bianca Helbach of Germany tells a story about traveling in the United Staes as Hussein Badran (Lebanon) and Sebastian Scheller (Germany) listen in.
From Azerbaijan to South Africa, eight foreign exchange students are bringing a whole new perspective on life to Oregon High School this year, as they add to their own experiences.
The students - Sebastian Scheller, Sarah Muench, Bianca Helbach of Germany, Claudia Steiner of Austria, Therese Jordaan of South Africa, Sabina Osmanli of Azerbaijan, Hussein Badran of Lebanon and Mathias Gregersen of Denmark – are fitting into their new surroundings and enjoying the very different pace and flavor of life in the American Midwest.
For Badran, 16, the biggest change from his native Lebanon is definitely the cold weather.
“I’ve seen snow but I have to go to the mountains. We go for a half an hour and then we freeze to death,” he chuckled. “A week ago it was 80 and now it’s 45 outside. It’s just like summer into winter, there’s not much fall.”
“Three years and holding steady,” said Oregon School Board President Courtney Odorico.
For the third year in the row, the Oregon School Board has maintained the line on its budget, with a total levy of $22,779,953 for the 2013-14 school year.
Due to a nearly 1 percent drop in the area’s equalized value, the mill rate will go up slightly, though, to $12.31 per $1,000 of property value, up from $12.20 this year. For a homeowner of a $250,000 home, that will be a $3,077.50 tax bill, up $27.50 from last year. The mill rate has increased each year since 2008, when it was $10.50.
Oregon School District administrator Dr. Brian Busler said district budget priorities remain focused on parent comments from budget engagement sessions that district officials held a few years ago.
For a high schooler, sometimes a little advice at the right time can help open doors to success and happiness.
That’s the goal of a new “advisory period” program at Oregon High School that is connecting students and staff while aiming to develop more well-rounded graduates.
During 16 sessions this school year, teachers, guidance counselors and administrators will team up with around a dozen students to meet and discuss a wide range of topics not normally addressed during class work, said OHS principal Kelly Meyers.
“We talk about time management, study skills, academic focus, safety, AOD (alcohol and drugs),” she said.
Groups are kept small in order to ensure maximum opportunity to develop a rapport with each student. Freshman advisories are 12 students and sophomore through senior advisories are capped at 15.
Students will continue with the same teacher through all four years of high school, with the goal to forge strong relationships.
Looking to help a middle schooler with math and other skills?
Schools of Hope at Oregon Middle School is seeking volunteer tutors, preferably ones with math and literacy skills. Tutors meet one-on-one or with small groups of students at least one hour each week.
Tutoring happens at school, Monday-Friday, either during the student’s study hall, learning lab, or after-school. No experience is necessary, as new volunteers will be given an orientation and training materials.
Schools of Hope is in partnership with the Urban League of Greater Madison, United Way of Dane County, and Oregon School District. The program launched in 2008 in Oregon and currently has 22 volunteers and more than 30 students enrolled in the program.
Program administrator Zoua Vang said the program’s largest need is volunteer math tutors from 10:45-11:30 a.m. She said volunteers need only commit to one hour a week.