Thursday, November 27, 2008

Economics and school

We've hit mid-term of the 2nd quarter and are cruising straight to the end of the sememster.

A long and successful football season, a great musical, a firery volleyball team, concessions and all that surrounds a young high schooler has many students waiting to exhale as they begin winter sports season, speech and the rest.

Not to mention a long harvest season and work committments. Now is the time many are looking at the 2nd semester, looking at their schedule and wanting to make their lives easier.

Seemingly one way to ease the pressure is to drop challenging courses like spanish, chemistry and others in favor of less rigorous classes.

While there are students who need to prioritize work and extra-currirular activities higher on their lists than other, most should keep academics at the top.

Our country is lossing jobs by the second. My kids and yours need to be ready for jobs we can't even imagine yet AND more importantly become more creative and innovative and possibly create their own careers.

We have to prepare students for 4-year, 2-year institutions as well as for working immediately out of high school. The old models of high school, college and work are starting to change and change at a rapid pace.

Instead of dropping rigorous classes students need to take more. Instead of making excuses like "I have to work" they need to worry less about buying, or maintaining their car and more on academics.

Period. No argument.

Anything less is failing to prepare them for..... I truthfully can't answer that question.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wow, it's been that long

Blogs that don't get updated, don't get read.

I'm guessing no one is going to read this post as it's been 10 weeks since my last entry. But I'm going to finally post again.

Subject...too many to even start. There's the end of the quarter, the sports season's playoff runs, the good statistics on many fronts.

There's issues in education, the world and the election.

I certainly could be writing about something, but alas, it seems I've let it go too long.

I will stop back soon and post about something.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Night before the first day of school

Summer is over. Well, it's been over for teachers for three days and more for most as they were in last week making preparations.
We will be handing laptops out Tuesday night, August 26th. Students and parent(s) will have to sit through three 20 minute sessions focusing on acceptable use, Internet safety/cellphones and a bootcamp on the basics about the computer.
It is very important that you understand the value and importance of having the computers and caring for them. At the high school level the expectation is clear - they will be responsible for carrying, having the computers and bringing them to school each and every day.
Teachers will be expecting students to have them in their possession and will be doing lessons and daily activities out of them more and more as the year progresses.
There will be times of difficulty and students we will have some bumps in this process, but we will move forward and the staff is committed to learning and applying new instructional processes. Ones that focus on 21st century skills and learning.
Please call with any questions and see you at the parent-student meeting August 26th. Freshmen parents do not have to attend.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Registration is set, freshmen orientation

Registration for school has been set for August 12th from 1 - 7 p.m. at all buildings both in the Anita CSD and C & M.

Forms will be provided online and will be sent out in the monthly newsletter.

Freshman orientation will be held Monday night, August 14 at 7:30 p.m. There will be a 30 minute presentation on CAM's one to one computer initiative that every parent and student must attend before your student will be issued a laptop.

Meetings for sophomores through senior classes will be held later and dates announced soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer's moving right along

Baseball and softball have officially ended and state tournaments have started or are upcoming soon. Summer is starting to move towards Fall.

School registration is tentatively set for August 12 and there will be some different things about this year's version of registration.

Remember, this year your student will be lugging around a MACbook with the latest operating system and programs on it including a school-only email address. This will come WITHOUT the $20 fee we charged last year.

With that said, we will have to meet and talk about the student and parent's responsiblities and what would happen if something DID happen to your student's computer.

Also, we'll have a drastically different cell phone policy. No we will not be banning cell phones, but we'll come to an understanding. The board has to approve the policy, but I can say now we will exercise ALL options given to us by law for those students who do not comply with the new policy.

In today's economy and climate high schools have been asked to step it up and it starts with the learning environment. To say cell phones distract and disrupt that environment is a stark understatement.

We will respect the student's right to have them if they respect our right and need to provide ALL students with an environment suitable to prepare them for life after high school.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

School's out for the Summer

The school year, formerly known as 2007-2008, is officially over.

Everyone is a year older and hopefully wiser. I know we learned a lot about each other, especially this year with the triumphs and tragedy we endured together.

We introduced new computers, policies and met a new administrator in Mr. Brazell. And now we say goodbye to Mr. Kuempel and Mrs. Bucey, two important cogs in our special education program.

Conference championships in volleyball and golf as well as a winning streak in football highlighted athletic accomplishments.

All-state musicians and speech performers as well as state and national FFA convention participants were a few activity highlights as well.

Look ahead we have added Project Lead the Way, a new program for students who want an active learning experience.

And for all of CAM schools we will be one-to-one computers to students at the start of of the 2008-2009 school year.

Have a great summer everyone! Remember - "A goodbye is not forever!"

Friday, May 9, 2008

Schedule for your future

Schedule for your future. Public education works...for those who choose to challenge themselves, take advantage of the opportunities offered and who attended regularly.

But it all starts with the schedule, one that follows the student's chosen pathway and one that pushes the student each year.

We have our materials on our website this year and are offering online registration. Students and parents can sit together at home and register for classes. Then they can review them and make changes themselves or call the school.

We have new programs, dual credit opportunities, IWCC classes all to consider.

Schedule for you and not to have an easy senior year or to be with your friends.

Today's economy will demand a lot from you when you leave high school

Get all of the free education that you can now.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cody gave us hope

After the horrifying events of Friday, April 4th and Cody Olsen's accident on hwy 148, the school was left reeling with prospect of losing Cody. For the next, almost two weeks, we as a community clung to hope.

Even though our prayers weren't answered (in our terms) and the outcome wasn't what we wanted, Cody's fight gave us hope and allowed us to come together.

Clinging to the hope brought us together in a way no lesson plan or activity ever could. And as we prepare to say our final goodbyes to Cody, and gather to share our memories, we can be comforted in the fact his memory will live on in those stories and remembrances.

Cody's funeral is Tuesday, April 22 at 10:30 at the CAM Middle School.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I'm very proud of our students and staff

In the midst of two trying situations involving Erin Steele and Cody Olsen, I have to tip my hat to both the students and staff of CAM High School for keeping a positive outlook and supporting each other.

Erin has hopefully turned the corner on what was certainly a dire situation and is working her way back.

Cody is fighting to get back to us after a horrifying accident, one which a bus load of high school students witnessed immediately afterwards.

There have been many tears but I've felt we've comforted and strengthened each other and have bonded together to believe nothing but the most positive outcomes will occur for both Cody and Erin.

We were able to dispel a despicable and distasteful rumor about Cody Friday night and continue to hope for the best.

Please continue to hold these two in your positive thoughts or prayers as they fight to get back to their families and friends.

Cody Olsen
Erin Steele

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Please! Don't quit your day job!

Tuesday night's Conference Honor band featured three numbers performed by the directors of the conference schools. This included CAM's own Neil Berry.

Together they jazzed it up, getting several solos each that got, and deserved, applause.

Standing there I thought, "this group could go out and perform professionally."

Then I thought, "What am I thinking!??!! Please, don't quit your day jobs! We need you."

Just about every teaching area in the state of Iowa is termed "a need area", but music teachers are hard to find.

I don't think the conference Principals would appreciate my suggesting they form a band and go on tour.

Great job students and directors, it was an entertaining evening.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hollywood ending

The disgruntled coach kicks the team out of practice right before the big tournament.

Team loses the first game of the tournament.

In the 2nd game a key player gets an intentional elbow that isn't called, plays on, goes to get medical attention and comes back motivated and leads the team to a win over their fiercest rival in an exciting back and forth contest.

In the third game things come together for a complete victory.

Everyone playing clears a big hurdle, players who hadn't scored pour points in and find confidence in their contribution to the two victories.

All in all a 2nd place finish in a tournament they were slated to go 0-3 and finish fourth.

The Hollywood ending happened for the 3rd grade CAM basketball team who had one just one game going into the weekend, losing 4 times collectively to the two teams they defeated Saturday.

The crowd was great, the games were fast paced, it was just a great day. Had we lost both games we'd been just as proud of the effort.

Things just plain fell together. Everyone contributed, bruised knees, bloody lips, a lot of sweat and a lot of smiles as they hustled their way to two considerable upset victories.

Playing Saturday were: Felicity Jackson, Kayle Meyer, Emma Dorsey, Anthony Erhman, Shianne Adams, Chelsea Adams, Cane Cooley, Kyler Jacobs, Brock Watson and Collin Giegerich. Christian Kinze couldn't make it Saturday, but was there all year.

Two plus months of practice and non-basketball lessons later and I haven't been prouder of a group of young people.

A good "Hollywood" way to end the season.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Unexcused absences and tardies

Unexcused absences or unexcused tardies are down this year.

However, we have policies to motivate students to get to class, stay in class and be responsible about owning up to being unexcused tardy or absent.

Those policies dictate that if you get three unexcused absences in one class you can be dropped from that class. Policy also dictates that if you have three unexcused tardies they turn into an unexcused absence.

Any form or truancy is a classic example of an unexcused absence. You skip out of the last block class or decide to go to another classroom for the whole period. Both of those instances will get a student an unexcused absence AND extra detention/Saturday school time for truancy.

Another way students can earn an unexcused absence is if their parent does not call them in absent the day they miss and we can't get a hold of the parent that day AND they do not send a note in with the student the next day. We will not call the day the student returns. We have informed students and parents as we talk to them and it's been effective.

An unexcused tardy is simply a student not being in the room at the bell without good reason.

Students who receive an unexcused tardy or absence were given a slip of paper taped on their locker to talk to Mrs. Meyer and to set up a detention.

Serving time for either one made the absence or tardy "non-permanent" or soft. Meaning it wouldn't move the student towards being dropped from the class.

Now some students may say the system is flawed because some slips were taken from lockers before the students got to see them. Now it's unfortunate that some students find enjoyment in messing with the slips, but the student who missed should know what their responsibilities are when they miss. We go over these procedures early in the year and communicate them every opportunity that we can. Not getting the slip of paper doesn't absolve the student from the absence and being accountable for where they were.

So letters have now gone home to parents of students who have moved towards 3 unexcused absences in a class or several classes and are giving students multiple opportunities to serve their detention time.

Because if students don't serve their time by March 14th (one week after the end of the 3rd quarter) their 3rd quarter unexcused tardies and absences will go permanent. Any student with more than 3 in a particular class will be called in with their parents and dropping that student from those classes will be discussed.

Students who had time to serve for other teachers or for receiving blue slips were also sent letters. These students must serve the time or they will receive Good Conduct Policy violations fore insubordination. Students with absence or tardy detentions may also be cited for Good Policy violations if detentions are not served.

This means no Prom, no activity or athletic participation for the violation.

Any student with 2 unexcused absences in a particular class the student's parents will be called and if they have one unexcused absence a letter will go home.

This policy is located in the board policy book on the school website if you are curious and a list of all unexcused absences are located in the student-parent handbook. If you would like a copy of it have your student stop in the office or email me and I'll send you an electronic version.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mid-term, eligibility, attendance and prom

Half-way through quarter number three. Grades and progress reports have been mailed and eligibility, more specifically ineligibility lists have been compiled.

Normally eligibility affects only those students involved in activities. Those not involved really face only the wrath of home pressures and consequences there.

However, CAM High School does use eligibility as a criteria for being able to attend prom. The past years we have used the end of the third quarter to determine if students are eligible to attend prom. We will do this again this year.

Prom is Saturday, May 3rd and the end of the third quarter is March 7th. Juniors and seniors who are eligible are invited to prom. However, many sophomores and freshmen are asked as dates and each of the past two years we've seen students who are ineligible asked unexpectedly only to be disappointed that they couldn't go because of grades.

There isn't much a student can do once March 7th passes and a student is ineligible.

There also are issues with unexcused absences or habitual attendance violators. Unserved detentions will keep a student from being eligible to attend prom.

I would encourage everyone to be aware of their situation and that things get taken care of sooner rather than later. Pass your classes and get to school and class on time.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Where did Quasemoto go?

We missed the bells.

For two weeks the halls of CAM High School were quiet. Well, quiet from the interruption of the hall bells telling students, teachers and everyone it's time to move.

Our "Quasemoto" blew an amp, a system as old as the original "Hutchback of Notre Dame". Brought from the former high school, it was gutted of it's wires, dust, transistors and all that remains is a brand new amp. Combined with the new phone system we have more power, features and capabilities in 1/4th the area.

The bells will sound different, weird, almost wrong. But they will sound.

It was interesting watching everyone, drifting from class to class. Personally I think everyone did a good job considering our clocks have their differences. Our five minute passing period was more like 10 and I'm sure the number of "tardies" decreased as our kind hearted staff couldn't hold students who were a minute or two tardy...they may have been released late.

It's funny. The kids that would be tardy in 6 minutes were tardy after 11. What's the saying about giving an inch?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Service Learning Projects

At the high school we have a homeroom period scheduled for 4 of the 5 days of the week. A lot of time is spent tracking student's missing assignments and communicating things to the students as well as building relationships between the teachers and students. Recently we've added a service learning project to the homerooms.

The students were given a list of example projects and some homerooms choose from that list and some came up with ideas of their own. The projects were aimed at getting them involved with the community by doing these "service learning" projects.

Right now we are collecting coats and cloths for the Salvation Army. We have a couple homerooms putting together care packages for service men and women over seas. A couple have created podcasts with public service announcements and one is collecting toys for the emergency room.

Great ideas one and all, and we've had some radio publicity with the Iraqie care packages.

Please help support our student's efforts and if you have any questions please call the school.