At their regular meeting on Monday, May 18, 2020, the Junction City School District Board of Directors approved a calendar adjustment that will conclude the 2019-20 school year one week earlier than originally scheduled. This means that the last day of school for students has shifted from Wednesday, June 17th to Wednesday, June 10, 2020. In addition, one of the five furlough days that our licensed staff has accepted, will be on Friday, June 5th, making that day a non-school day for students.
Junction City School District Home
As the superintendent of our district over the past 17 years, I’ve sent messages to you- on a number of occasions- sharing information about troubling incidents in our schools or community, or sharing how national or regional events have adversely impacted our students and our school community. In every instance, our focus has been on supporting our students- especially those who don’t feel safe due to deaths or threats or political events in our country.
JUNCTION CITY SCHOOLS UPDATE:
For February being the shortest month, it sure has been busy! So many great things have been happening throughout the district, and many more are happening soon. I’m excited to share all the news with you, as well as give you a summary of what took place at the February board meeting, which took place on Monday, February 24th.
One of the wonderful things that is right around the corner is Classified Appreciation Week, which is coming up next week, March 2-6. At Monday’s Board Meeting, Chair Waddell shared the following message: “Next week is Classified Appreciation Week and the board would like to join with everyone in showing our appreciation for our classified staff. The education of youth is essential to the future of our community, state, country, and world. Classified employees are the backbone of our public education system. They are the heart of the education process; they are part of our community; they work directly with students, educators, parents, volunteers, business partners, and community members and our community depends upon and trusts them to serve students. Our classified employees, with their diverse talents and true dedication, nurture students throughout their school years. We so appreciate our classified staff; we couldn’t do what we do for kids without you all. From us to the classified staff, thank you very much!” Parents, administrators and licensed staff members are looking forward to making next week a special one- full of food, fun, and celebration- in honor of our beloved classified staff members!
Now, to news from around the district….
TERRITORIAL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Territorial’s Winter CBM scores look really good, with students in all grade levels progressing toward meeting year end targets. Teachers met on February 5th to review final data, and to identify strategies to move all students forward by the end of year assessment.
On February 13th, Territorial students participated in a “Most Recycled” Valentine’s Day box contest. Students gathered various items such cardboard, pop lids, shoe boxes and butter tubs to construct fabulous creations that could then be used to collect Valentines. The entries lined the main hall for all to see. The creations ranged from a replica of the Titanic to an Anchor fish that actually lit up- it was a fun sight to see.
Territorial’s annual Grandparent’s Day Tea was a great success, with outstanding grandparent participation. 182 grandparents and special guests joined a child (or two or three) for tea and pastries on February 14th. Entertainment was provided by Territorial students, directed by Amy Burrow. Each class performed a song or instrumental selection for their guests. Festivities wrapped up with students and grandparents visiting a photo booth to commemorate the day before stopping off to shop at the Scholastic Book Fair, and then finishing the event with crafts in the classrooms. Thank you to our many parent volunteers for organizing this memorable day for students and grandparents alike.
We’re all looking forward to the Project Fair (coming up April 3rd) and the Talent Show on April 16th and of course the upcoming Read-Across-America celebration. On Monday, March 2nd we will be holding an all school Dr. Seuss Read-a-Thon. Students are encouraged to bring in a Dr. Seuss book to school to read during the Read-a-Thon, and I am looking forward to joining Soroptimists International of Junction City in the media center that day for the organization’s annual book-give away.
LAUREL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Laurel’s attendance campaign is still going strong this year as we keep our daily attendance rate above 90%. Laurel’s staff and students just celebrated “We Love Coming To School Day” on February 14th to celebrate our continued daily attendance rate of over 90%. Staff and students have celebrated and earned many incentives to focus on students coming to school every day. Laurel’s next school-wide event is “Be Seen Wearing Green.” If we keep our attendance rate above 90%, students will celebrate by wearing green on the last day of school before Spring Break! Our dedicated attendance team will continue working hard to continue promoting daily regular attendance for all students.
Staff and students are continuing to build compassion chains through the halls as they earn links for completing acts of kindness and compassion. The goal is to extend a collectively-built paper linking chain throughout the halls as a symbol of our compassion and kindness. This project builds on our January vision focus of “Compassionate Citizens.” What a great way to help our students see how they can contribute to making the world a better place through kindness.
Laurel’s Vision focus of the month is “Responsible Citizens.” As a Laurel community, we all want our children to grow up to be responsible citizens. We encourage them to learn to think and act with respect for themselves and for other people. While we teach them to pursue and care for their own well-being, we also urge them to be considerate of the needs and feelings of others. We place a great emphasis on how our actions contribute to building our school culture, and that in order to keep our culture positive, we need to be thoughtful about our own impact on the community.
On February 20, Laurel fourth graders got to visit the 82nd Annual Logging Conference in Eugene. The students had a fun time learning about Oregon’s forestry and the logging industry, its history, current practices and what the industry may be in the future! The fourth grade team will connect the experience to learning in the classroom to provide a contextualized experience for our students. This field trip is one great way our teachers make connections from the classroom to the local community and the real world.
As noted earlier, Classified Appreciation Week is March 2-6! Our licensed staff are preparing to celebrate part of the Laurel’s backbone, our classified employees. We can’t imagine we could have ANY success without the tireless work of each and every one of them. It is so powerful when you pause and think of the important roles they play and the huge impact they have on our ability to experience success in our jobs. NO words can express my gratitude and appreciation for the monumental, positive impact our classified staff have on students, Laurel and the community. In a few days, Laurel’s certified staff have plans to show their deep gratitude and appreciation to their fellow colleagues by providing breakfast, lunch, and other tokens of appreciation.
Our next exciting event is going to be Dr. Seuss Night on March 6. This will be another family fun night for our whole community. Additionally, the teachers will be celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday during the week by reading their favorite books with the students. The children love hearing his rhyme filled stories and silly songs. This is another way our community celebrates learning every day!
OAKLEA MIDDLE SCHOOL
It is hard to believe February is in the final week; Oaklea has certainly packed the activities into the short month! Early in February was Counselor Appreciation Week and Oaklea students love Mrs. Martin! We appreciate the work she does for students and families. Middle school is a difficult time for many students for many reasons, but Mrs. Martin is always there for our students. Thank you Laura!
Here are just a few examples of the exciting learning taking place at Oaklea: Our 8th graders are starting an electricity unit and will be taking part in an Electricity Olympics. Ms. Carlos’s class worked on peer conflict resolution training in 6th grade health. The Oaklea Choir performed at “Just Sing It!”, a festival at Springfield High School. They sang two pieces for an audience of over 550 middle school students. The choir also joined other students from 12 other middles schools around the Eugene/Springfield area to participate in a mass choir. The mega choir of almost 500 people, spent the morning rehearsing together, then recorded three songs together. Oaklea Concert Choir was excited to part of such a huge event and should be proud for performing so well!
Oaklea’s 7th and 8th grade boys’ basketball teams have been competing and improving all season. Their season wraps up the first week of March. Track sign-ups have begun, but there is still time to get information and turn out. Another sign up took place on Tuesday, February 25th, and a parent information night will be happening next week, on March 5th at 6:00 in the Oaklea Cafeteria. An Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB) competition took place on February 13th at – we have an extremely competitive group. The “School for Books and Readers” team was the winner and will compete against 28 other teams at Regionals on February 29th at Oaklea. A huge thank you to Stacey Johnson for taking on this huge event again this year. Congratulations to all who competed, and stay hungry readers!
7th and 8th grade students also had a dance on February 14th and was once again headlined by DJKJ (Officer Ken Jackson) and 6th grader Cole Peterson (DJ in training)! Students sold Flower Grams. In addition, this week we have an assembly to promote school community; our amazing 7th and 8th grade leadership team headed by Mr. Meskil and Mr. Tedrick have a bunch of Wacky Relays planned. The first week of March we will have the March Madness Reading night and Book Fair. Dinner will be served at 5:30 and the exciting events will take place from 6:00 – 7:00. There will also be some fun daily dress up events to promote reading.
Our staff continues to utilize their PLC time to work on formative assessments and common scoring rubrics. In addition to the PLCs we have some very exciting training for our math teachers this week with Shanon McCaw. Our Team Leads will be working Thursday to plan for our upcoming Professional Development day in March.
Looking ahead to March- Band and Choir will have their concert on March 11th at 7pm; second trimester ends on March 17th with no school the 18th , 19th , and 20th for record keeping and professional development. We can never say thank you enough to everyone who helps our students at Oaklea and the district move along their journey to becoming adults. Go Tigers!
JUNCTION CITY HIGH SCHOOL
February has been a quick and eventful month for JCHS students and staff. We kicked off the month celebrating our counselors and will honor our classified staff next week. The Unified basketball game held last week was one of the brightest highlights of the year, as students, families, staff and community members were moved by the joy and sportsmanship demonstrated that night in the gym. The gym was packed and we had lots of positive media and social media coverage of the event. Special thanks to Garrett Mills and Jennifer Williams for coaching, and to Craig Rothenberger for his work to bring this program to JCHS; thanks also to Special Programs Director Katie Bradford for her support.
The Tiger Auction Committee deserves tremendous praise for their work to produce what many have called the most successful auction in our school's history. Aimee Corey, Lisa Silbernagel and Wendy Waddell Co-Chaired this year, and the auction raised a gross $67,000 plus. We would like to thank all of our volunteers and people who donated to support extracurricular activities while having a great evening! We live in an amazing community.
Winter sports are coming to a close. It's a busy season, as spring sports begin March 2nd. Our wrestlers will be off to the 4A state championships this coming weekend, and both girls and boys basketball hosted league playoff games last Friday night and both teams advanced to play-off games earlier this week: the girls won at Marist, and the boys lost at Marshfield, but will have a play-in game on Saturday. The swim season wrapped up with Danny Leach coaching his first season.
Both of our high school Robotics teams will be off to the State Championship soon, and the Chess team continues to compete with Coach Shawn Shelley, as well as Speech & Debate with Angela Curtis. Our cheerleaders have had several competitions and have taken home 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies in their "Game Time" division. Preparation for the Top Tiger is underway; the group will be hosting the annual “Tiger Tea” on Sunday at 3 PM in the JCHS gym. Tickets to this fun event are only 8 dollars.
Our AP Literature program’s annual Val-O-Grams fund raiser took in over $1800 this year, and will ensure that all of our AP Lit Seniors get a trip to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland this spring. Thanks to our AP Lit teacher Kristi Stahl for her leadership.
We want to invite all 8th Grade Students and Parents to our annual 8th Grade Welcoming Night this Thursday, February 27th at 6pm in the JCHS cafeteria. This is a great opportunity to meet staff, learn about programs, and to have students start registering for elective classes next school year.
On behalf of our district, I attended the City Council’s meeting on February 11th, in the hopes that the Council would approve their Planning Commission’s recommendation to grant our district’s request to rezone the small parcel of surplus property at the southwest corner of the Laurel ball fields. As has been shared previously, this property is not needed by the district for any public purpose and was declared surplus by the board many months ago. The board’s intention is to rezone the parcel as R-1, and then sell the parcel to a developer. The board plans to use the proceeds from that sale towards paying down the debt for the property at 18th and Rose that will eventually need to be developed for a new school site due to the tremendous growth that is occurring in our city- and that growth is expected to have a significant impact on the district’s schools due to growth in our school-aged population. Despite more than a year of effort on this process, thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and countless hours of district staff time- the City Council did not approve the rezone request at their February meeting.
The District’s land use attorney, Bill Kloos, has been in communication with the City’s attorney who has indicated that the District’s request will be reconsidered by the Council at their next meeting, at 6:30 PM on Tuesday, March 10th. Junction City’s Mayor was in attendance at Monday night’s board meeting and expressed his support for the District’s request; board members, staff members and interested community member are encouraged to attend the March 10th City Council meeting to express support for this proposal.
BOARD MEETING NEWS
The board held a work session prior to their board meeting on Monday night. The work session was facilitated by Matt Coleman of Inflexion, and Mike Garling of the Rural Schools Network. Matt and Mike were there to share with the board the results from stakeholder interviews and surveys related to development of our District’s Identity and Vision for our students. This continues to be a work in progress, and Matt and Mike will continue to refine the “Proposed Maxims” that will be developed and eventually used to guide district planning and decision making.
The February board meeting began with honoring “Students of the Month” from each of our schools, and we were pleased to have all four of our four honorees in attendance to receive their certificates. The honorees are as follows:
Territorial – Wyatt Massey is a hard worker and it shows by how much progress he is making, especially in math and reading. He is always organized and comes to class each day with a “ready to learn” attitude! Wyatt is also quick to offer help to anyone who needs it and is a kind friend to everyone. Keep up the great work, Wyatt!
Laurel-- Hunter Renken is a true example of a young man that shows kindness and compassion to adults and peers throughout the building on a daily basis. His smile can light up a room and he’s always welcoming and inclusive of others. He perseveres through challenges with a positive attitude and is a great example of a student with a growth mindset. He frequently helps his teacher and peers clean up / tidy up the classroom without being asked. Hunter is silly and enthusiastic while still showing great responsibility at school being an active learner. We are very proud of Hunter and enjoy watching him grow each year at Laurel.
Oaklea – Jose Castro Lopez is Oaklea's 5th grade student of the month. Jose's favorite class is PE, loves to play soccer, and his favorite player is Lionel Messi (Soccer Player for FC Barcelona). He enjoys pepperoni pizza, his favorite movie is Endgame, the color blue and he had an amazing family trip to Florence where they did bumper boats and go karts. When Jose grows up he's going to be either an Architect or an Engineer.
High School – Carson Williams is a senior at JCHS and deserves special recognition for her positive leadership both in the classroom and on our wrestling team. This year marked the 3rd year she competed in wrestling at JCHS. Early on, there may have been times many student-athletes would have quit competing due to the physical and emotional demands. We know that Carson showed tremendous perseverance and grit. She is now a senior leader who many younger athletes look up to. She is also a pioneer. Carson just signed with Corban University, making her the first JCHS female wrestler to wrestle at the collegiate level. This is also a tribute to her parents and coach, Bob Lee. Carson was the first 3 Year Varsity Letterperson for Women’s Wrestling at JCHS. She was voted in as Team Captain for the last 2 seasons. Carson on her own accord developed a wrestling clinic to introduce new girls to the sport of wrestling. She was involved in everything from planning, promoting and coaching at this clinic. She has also been a varsity letter winner in soccer and softball. Coach Bob Lee shares that Carson has grown into such an amazing young woman. “I am so very proud of her and honored to have been a part of her journey here at JCHS. And I’m so excited for the next part of her story to unfold…”. Thank you, Carson, for the legacy you will leave at Junction City High School.
Following the presentation of certificates to February’s Students of the Month, Oaklea Co-Principal Joy O’Rennick presented the Board’s “Volunteer of the Month” award to Melissa Kegal, Oaklea Parent Group volunteer extraordinaire. We appreciate Melissa!
Before moving into action items, the board heard from Director of Instruction Erika Vaughn, who shared with the board and those in attendance a draft of the District’s Student Investment Account priorities and recommended plan. The board will consider and take action on the application for funds at their March board meeting.
In action items, the board acted to approve the consent agenda- which included approving the minutes from their January board meeting, as well as administrators’ recommendations for contract renewals and extensions for licensed staff, as well as my recommendations regarding the contracts of district administrators.
The board then approved the hiring of Cecilia Tomcal as temporary 1.0 FTE 7th grade math teacher at Oaklea Middle School beginning February 10, 2020, temporary for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. (This is the position that Aaron Thornton has temporarily vacated in order to serve as the math instructional coach / 8th grade transition specialist.) They also approved the resignation of Jacob Courtney, 1.0 FTE science teacher at Junction City High School effective the end of the 2019-20 school year, as well as the retirement of Val King, .50 FTE reading specialist at Oaklea Middle School, effective the end of the 2019-20 school year.
Next, the board acted to approve the Lane Education Service District Local Service Plan 2019-21 Year 2 (Lane ESD Superintendent, Tony Scurto, spoke with the board about the Local Service Plan 2019-21at the January board meeting).
With respect to discussion items, the board heard a brief report out regarding the Bonds and Ballots workshop that a team of 5 people from our district attended last month. It was a super helpful workshop- and it was great to have a team attend. Jacque Gerdes planned to provide the report-out to the rest of the board but was not in attendance because of the boys’ basketball playoff game. We will have this on the agenda for the March meeting in case there is specific information she would like to share.
In the meanwhile, I am happy to say that our district was the winner of the one drawing I entered on our behalf! We won a free, 4-hour facilities visioning planning session with Pivot Architecture of Eugene (Pivot designed Howard Elementary School in Eugene, a school we visited when we were taking tours after passing the bond in 2016). A small group will be meeting with Pivot next week to share where we are as a district with respect to our long-range facilities planning process and to get some guidance on how best to use the free four-hour planning session. Once we have determined what will be most helpful, we will invite a larger team of staff members, board members and community members to participate in this planning workshop.
Business Manager Alison Covey then shared a monthly financial update with the board, along with a reminder that we are entering the busy budget development phase, which will be even busier- but very positive- given the need to incorporate several new funding sources (Measure 98 and the Student Investment Accounts) into our planning and the budget document. After the financial report, the board had their final discussion update of the evening, which was to consider the monthly student enrollment update. The number of students enrolled in February was two fewer for the prior month, but still more than 20 students over last year’s average enrollment.
The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 16th at 6 PM. Until then, GO TIGERS!