Congratulations to Racine Unified School District for being awarded the NSPRA’s Gold Medallion Award in recognition of outstanding educational public relations programs.
Closing a school building or changing attendance zones can bring out fierce opposition in a school community. In 2017-18, Racine Unified School District proposed both and then some as part of a major middle school transformation set for 2018-19. Through research-informed communication strategies and tactics, the “My School. My Choice.” campaign successfully turned potential opponents into leaders and supporters of RUSD’s new concept for its boundary and choice middle schools.
RUSD’s journey of transformation was prompted by challenges such as declining enrollment, inefficient use of facilities and negative perceptions of its middle schools. The district conducted research to determine what its families wanted — more choices and opportunities, safe and engaging learning environments, challenging curriculum to prepare students for college or careers — and what its middle schools needed to meet those desires.
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The Journal Times: Children both excited and apprehensive swung, slid, climbed and rocked on a shiny, new handicapped-accessible playground at Wadewitz Elementary on Friday.
The all-inclusive playground is a dream come true for the school community, but especially for the teachers on the playground committee who spent two years raising around $200,000 to purchase and install the structure.
“It’s very fulfilling to see over two years of hard work come to fruition,” said Lisa Johnson, teacher and playground committee member. “The smiles on the kids’ faces show it was worth it.”
The school hosted six ribbon cuttings on Friday, one for each class at the school, but the special education students got first crack at the “Wadewitz Dream Big Playground” that morning. School Board members, parents and playground committee members gathered to view the ribbon cutting and watch the students take a spin on the equipment.
The family of Katherine Pike, a first-grade student at Wadewitz who died in January, cut the ribbon. The family helped in fundraising by asking that memorials to their daughter be made to the playground fund.
The Journal Times: Computer code is the language of the future, and last week students at Red Apple Elementary as young as 5 years old began to learn about it.
In the school’s crowded library, kindergarten and first grade students huddled in front of laptops in pairs, working to move Lightbot from lighted square to lighted square. The youngsters stared at their computers in concentration, argued with their partners over the right moves and cheered in celebration when they got the moves rights as they played the online game that teaches users programming logic.
“Their level of excitement has excited me,” said Racine Unified Superintendent Eric Gallien, who attended the event on Thursday.
Higher Expectations for Racine County, along with Dream Hustle Code, a Chicago nonprofit, worked together to bring the Hour of Code pilot program to all students at Red Apple, Julian Thomas and Dr. Jones elementary schools last week. After seeing the results, Gallien said he hopes to expand the program next year.
The Hour of Code is an international movement that has reached tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries. The event, typically held in December, is a one-hour introduction to computer coding.
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The Journal Times: Twenty-five Racine Unified School District high school students achieved 2016 AP Scholar status. The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program provides students with the opportunity to take rigorous college-level courses while still in high school and to earn college credit, advanced placement or both for successful performance on the AP Exams.
The following students achieved AP Scholar designation. These students have completed three or more AP Exams with scores of three or higher:
Horlick High School: Hailey Burmeister, Katherine Bydalek, Simeon Cannalte, Andrew Gilbertson, Cassandra Gillen, Nicole Shields, Isabella Smetana, Thomas Stublaski, Milan Tomic, Joshua Topel and Alexander Wiggins.
Park High School: Ryan Cartwright, Neil Monson, Regina Scott, Sophie Torostan and Emma Czosnek.
Walden High School: Michael Christensen.
The following students achieved AP Scholars with Honor. These students earned an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP Exams taken and scores of three or higher on four or more of these exams:
Horlick High School: Ali Batayneh, Michael Coey and Margaret Ford.
Park High School: Eryn Benner, Giorgi Miller and Jenna Rosinski.
The Journal Times: After a nationwide search, AASA, the School Superintendents Association, has chosen Racine Unified School District Chief Academic Officer Rosalie Daca as one of 20 accomplished women leaders from school districts across the country to participate in the first AASA Aspiring Women Leaders Program, according to a Racine Unified School District news release.
Daca was selected to participate in the AASA Women In School Leadership initiative called “More Than a Power Lunch: Building Networks to Support and Advance Women in School Leadership.” The initiative was launched to help ease the impact of social barriers women face in ascending to the top leadership positions within school systems, and to significantly increase the number of women seeking and becoming CEOs and superintendents of schools.
The Journal Times: On the mark of United Way of Racine County staff on Wednesday, dozens of young students at Wadewitz Elementary School, 2700 Yout St., began tearing into small backpacks full of supplies for reading and writing.
With the aim of keeping the students sharp over summer, each backpack — and the 10 books inside — came from an adult tutor the student has been meeting with each week this school year through United Way’s Schools of Hope program, which uses community volunteers to boost students’ literacy skills.
“It’s been really great to see them over the year, just how much they’ve developed going from not feeling so confident about sounding out big words to then being able to tackle things on their own,” explained Kirstin Yeado, 30, of Milwaukee, community impact manager at Higher Expectations for Racine County Youth, who has been tutoring two first-grade students all year.
The Journal Times: An eighth-grade student from Walden III Middle School has won a $5,000 grant for his robotics club, the Racine Unified School District announced this week.
“I try to fix little problems and then just see if I change this a little, how does it change the whole thing. It’s really cool to look and say, I created this, I did this myself,” Nolan Tremelling, who won the $5,000 SC Johnson grant, said in an article posted on Racine Unified’s website.
Last year he went to a state competition and placed 15th, which is about half way. This year he is trying to win first place, but to do that he knew he needed updated equipment.
Journal Times: Grocery shopping may seem like a simple task, but for a teenager, it can be a bit daunting — especially if they’re shopping for a family. That’s why Partners Educating Parenting Students teacher Tania Wilhelmi paired up with UW-Extension to give her students a hands-on, interactive and educational experience inside the grocery store.
“This program is geared toward my students who are all teenage moms. We’re focusing on healthy eating for them and healthy eating for their children and learning budgeting strategies with a WIC focus,” Wilhelmi said.
Students in the Partners Educating Parenting Students program had the opportunity to walk through the grocery store with a nutrition educator to learn about low cost, nutritious foods.