—by Todd Thorson

(tthorson@storycityherald.com)

Classes started a little earlier this year for the Roland-Story High School students. Upon initiating the RtI (Response to Intervention) program last year, it was reported in April that the 9-12 center would be incorporating a daily "seminar" concept prior to the beginning of classes in the morning. This required the start time at the high school to be changed to 8:20 a.m. According to High School Principal Steve Schlatter this change/addition to the schedule will hopefully help in the areas of assignment completion, attendance, course grades and completion of graduation requirements.

"The goal is to increase contact and communication with the students and parents, and hold students more accountable for their work and time in class," Schlatter stated. "We will still have weekly advisement activities (however) to build relations and team work."

New staff members at the high school were also announced in the spring. Darci Kellen will teach 11th grade English, the DMACC English Comp/Literature course, Technical English and also oversee the Talented and Gifted (TAG) program. Jessica Greenfield will teach 9th grade English and be involved with the National Honor Society. Colton Calvert will teach World History, Humanities and also assistant coach football, wrestling and baseball. Paul Higginbottom will instruct Industrial Technology and oversee the Yearbook staff.

Highlights from the 2012-13 school year included:

The 1:1 technology roll out in August, which was an important and exciting time prior to the beginning of the school year, was deemed a success. Junior magazine sales set an all-time high in September. The R-S marching band continued to excel, garnering Division I ratings at two separate events in September and October. The girls’ cross country team also qualified for the state meet in October.

Also in October, the third annual Community Service Day was held, with students offering yard work and clean up services for Story City and Roland residents. Tyler Hougland represented Roland-Story at the World Food Prize in October as well. Thomas Wilgenbusch will represent Roland-Story this year.

Parent/Teacher Conferences were held in November with only 80 percent attendance. Principal Schlatter and his staff will be working to improve in this area for the 2013-14 school year.

The Norsemen cheerleaders participated at the state competition in Des Moines in November, and the flag team placed at the State of Iowa Dance/Drill Team Championships in December. The jazz band kept its traditional excellence alive by qualifying for state for the 11th consecutive year in December as well. They then performed in state competition again in April. The FCCLA students assisted with the annual Kids’ Day for Story City’s Yulefest celebration, also in December.

In January, the R-S speech members received multiple Division I ratings at the district speech contest. The Iowa Assessment Tests were taken by 9-11 grade students in February, with positive results posted in April.

As the 2012-13 school year drew to a close, Prom activities were held at the Randall Gym for the first time. Various FCCLA members received Star Awards, and the State FFA Convention saw multiple contest winners announced for R-S students.

May graduation exercises were conducted, with 77 seniors receiving diplomas. Multiple participants took part in the Boys/Girls State Track and Field Championships in Des Moines. State large group contest was also held for vocal and band, and both groups were awarded Division I ratings after receiving rave reviews from the judges.

The summer months saw various building and grounds projects conducted at the high school. The new stadium seating project is now complete and ready for the 2013 football season. A new press box is nearly complete and should be ready for the first home game on September 6 against CMB. Various locker room and gym renovations also took place in June and July.

Professional Development

In addition to the newly-initiated RtI concept, the entire staff at Roland-Story High School will continue to be monitored using AIW. All teachers had certain tasks scored last year, and their revisions were then made. Many had instruction techniques scored, and others were scored on students’ work. The scoring system will continue to be implemented during the 2013-14 school year.

The Iowa CORE curriculum program was infused in unit plans, using AIW standards. "We will continue to write lesson plans incorporating both areas (of technique and students’ work)," said Schlatter. "This was done in 2012-13 with each teacher."

The February 2013 Iowa Assessment Test results were presented as follows:

9th Grade - Reading, 80.8 % proficient; Language Arts, 90.4 %; Math, 91.7 %; and Science, 98.6 %.

10th Grade - Reading, 92.4 % proficient; Math, 89.9 %; Social Studies, 94.9 %; and Science, 93.6 %.

11th Grade - Reading, 85.9 % proficient; Language Usage, 85.9 %; Math, 90.1 %; and Science, 93 %.

Attendance/Graduation

The attendance rate at the high school level for the 2012-13 school year was at 94.6 percent, down from 94.7 percent the year before. Principal Schlatter hopes to improve on this for 2013-14.

"We will continue to send letters and make contact through the (new) seminar (program) for meeting times with parents to dicuss attendance and the impact on grades," he said.

Schlatter would also like to see an improved graduation rate at Roland-Story. "Looking at the numbers, the rate should be at 95 to 96 percent. We would like it to be higher. But of the drops we had last year, three had moved into (the) credit deficient (category), with major issues, and (then) left because of those same issues. Overall, (however), we had a good percentage."

1:1 Technology Invitiative

The 2012 1:1 technology roll out was deemed a success, and a positive experience for all involved, according to reports. "We do have areas to tighten up," stated Schlatter, "but the positives are much stronger than the negatives."

Minimal damage was revealed and reported, out of the over 300 iPads/laptops that were distributed to students. A check of the student body revealed only six were damaged, with the students having to pay the $250 deductible for screen damage.

The teachers were, overall, pleased with the 1:1 initiative, stating that the quality of work turned in by the students was better and the time required for assignments, with the new technology factored in, was shorter.

Students also felt the new technology added to their learning experience. But Principal Schlatter did mention that there were some issues with off-task and inappropriate use of the devices. "I will need more diligence in this area," he stated, "and we are purchasing (the) LAN school (security) program for teachers to monitor students in the classroom."

Curriculum

The only change to the high school curriculum this fall comes under the English department. "Instead of all electives for 11th and 12th grade students, we will make 11th grade English required, with electives for 12th grade only," explained Schlatter. "This was done to help in covering the CORE curriculum for all students. We will have a section of 9th and 10th grade English for reading/writing skills as an intervention before they are in 11th grade."