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JUNCTION CITY SCHOOLS UPDATE:
The end of the school year is rapidly approaching and we have so many great things going on for our students, their families, and our community in the weeks and days that remain.
News from the April 22nd board meeting can be found near the end of this update, and please note that the date for the May board meeting has moved up a week and will be held on Monday, May 13th rather than May 20th.
And while I am talking calendars- please note that the week of May 6th through the 10th is Teacher Appreciation Week! We have the best staff anywhere, and we are tremendously grateful for all they do for Junction City kids. Please, take a moment next week and Thank a Teacher.
TERRITORIAL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
April has been a busy month at Territorial. State testing is underway, and we couldn’t be more pleased with our students’ efforts. Along with all that hard work, students have also had an opportunity to be creative. Territorial’s Green Club has taken on Bring Recycle’s School Design Challenge. The idea is to transform salvaged materials into new products. As such, students are using old bikes to create a pulley system that will rotate our tumbler compost bins. Students connected with the idea after reading a story in their 3rd grade Wonders curriculum, in which the store owner used a stationary bike to generate power for his juice stand.
Likewise, our Jr. Lego League participants have been working hard on their challenge since January recently attended an expo where our two teams presented their design. The team had to identify a problem that astronauts might encounter while on the moon, and then design, build, and program a machine that would address that issue.
Speaking of getting the creative juices flowing, fifth grade was awarded a grant from Lane Art Council this year. The grant has allowed them the opportunity to participate in twenty sessions of “Creative Link” with artist Linda Burden-Williams. Linda has been helping fifth graders engage in performing arts while incorporating the Studio Habits of Mind. Students even got to partner with KOCF radio station to record commercials. Lane Art Council has been very generous this year and also gifted us with the Rural School’s Grant to fund artist Kelly Thibodeaux’s visits to Territorial to instruct students in the art of fiddling. As a result, students will be performing in a recital on Friday, May 3rd. It is sure to be a great show!
Did someone say show? Territorial students, along with the help of director Steph van Hecke and dance director Emma van Hecke, put on a prodigious talent show last week. The acts included dances, jokes, musical performances, and even a snake tamer! It was a fun and entertaining night for all.
In addition to Territorial students participating in artistic and creative happenings, there were several fieldtrips that took place this month as well. Third, fourth, and fifth grade students attended the 60th anniversary of Symphonic Safari. Students learned about the orchestra, and then walked through the orchestra as they played.
In preparation for fourth grade’s Oregon Trail unit, that class visited Dorris Ranch- where students got to cook corn bread and see who lived in the Willamette Valley before us. Students experience the lives of Kalapuya Indians, trappers and Oregon Trail pioneers.
Under the direction of our music teacher Amy Burrows, second graders visited the Junction City Retirement Center, where students sang and talked with residents. The second-grade class then toured the new wing of the High School, and had an opportunity to perform for the high school choir- and in return the high school choir sang a few songs for them as well. When Mrs. Sisler asked one of the second graders what he enjoyed most, he quickly responded, “visiting the place where the snow videos were made!” Finally, fifth and second grade students recently visited the Shedd where students attended the Magical Moombah performance filled with skits, songs and contests.
To conclude, in honor of National Volunteer week, which was the week of April 8th, Territorial would like to thank its many volunteers. Without our volunteers we would not be able to engage in so many enriching activities. Likewise, as Administrative Professionals’ week recently occurred, Territorial would like to thank our secretary, Terrie McFadden for wearing her many hats so well on that day and every day.
LAUREL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
We had a beautiful transition back to Laurel after Spring Break. Students and teachers were excited to get back to learning and had a blast sharing all the fun activities they engaged in over the break.
Laurel’s Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) continues to focus on attendance and chronic absenteeism. In collaboration with the Attendance Support Team at Laurel, the PAC was able to create a positive impact on students’ attendance. Our chronically absent data has improved and we are starting to see our efforts pay off. Next PAC meeting, the team will be looking to plan for a Back-to-School event that will mainly focus on promoting good attendance. We invite parents to be part of this effort, and those who are interested in supporting are encouraged to call the school and share their interest. We know that good attendance is a team effort and that our parents and community play a big part in it.
Laurel’s “Got Talent” show was out of this world. As always, the students’ talents were amazing, heartwarming, and just plain adorable. Ms. Marie did a fantastic job auditioning and practicing with the students, and they put on a very entertaining show! We thank all of our parents and staff for their support of the students as they showed their bravery in performing their talent to a big crowd.
Laurel’s BINGO Night took place on April 26th in the JC High School gym. Our Parent Group hoped to raise $10,000 to support Outdoor School for our fourth graders, and this night is a huge contributor to funding this enriching activity. The beauty of this event is that it provides a great opportunity for the whole Junction City community to come together in a fun and upbeat environment. The staff and children at Laurel thank the Laurel Parent Group and our wonderful community so much for all that they do to support our school!
This year, rather than the usual jog-a-thon, Laurel students will get to participate in the new Fun Run, a program that will provide fun as well as character building. This program aligns well with the Laurel vision as it promotes 5 character traits: integrity, teamwork, citizenship, growth mindset, and zest. For the two weeks that this program will run, our teachers and students will immerse themselves in learning and activities that promote these traits. Part of the reason we wanted to use this program is the component of family and community engagement that has been a focus at Laurel his year. We hope that our families- and the community at large- will join us in implementing this fun and engaging program.
Laurel’s third and fourth graders have been taking the Smarter Balanced test, which began on April 29th. Before the actual testing happened, teachers and proctors administered the practice test to allow students to get a feel of what it’s like to take the test. Our students are having a positive experience practicing for this test, and we are anticipating the process to be smooth. This year, all test sessions will take place in the classrooms. As such, we are working as a whole school to minimize disruptions and interruptions during testing. We have appreciated how the kids and teachers at other grade levels are showing great support to 3rd and 4th graders.
OAKLEA MIDDLE SCHOOL
April at Oaklea was super busy! Add in “The Flood of 2019” and it seems the month was busier than ever. The mid-way point of the third trimester is just a couple of weeks away and we have many events still in the works. We are focused and engaged to finish the third trimester strong. Our staff continues to use the PLC time to unpack and prioritize our standards along with learning targets. Research has shown that this type of opportunity for teachers leads to the greatest growth, for both staff and students. Thank you again for this opportunity to use our additional Early Release time to improve as professionals in order to increase growth and learning for students.
Our math teachers were able to work with a fantastic expert, Shannon McGraw for two days in early April. The work and learning was informative, helpful, and instantly applicable. Every teacher came away with new insights and ideas to utilize in their classrooms. English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies will also have additional PLC hours to collaborate in April.
We celebrated National Volunteer Week by surprising our amazing Oaklea Parent Group. Thank you for all you do for the students and staff at Oaklea! Nine Oaklea staff members participated in the first ever McTeacher night at the Junction City McDonald’s on Thursday, April 18th. From 5-7 p.m. we took the place over, taking orders, handing out food, and greeting patrons. A number of students and families came to see their teachers in action. McDonald’s gave us a portion of the proceeds from those two hours, which totaled $550! Thank you to McDonald’s for the opportunity, we had a ton of fun!
Track has had two meets plus the warm up meet. They’ve been very successful with Coach Surface informing us that many students have been setting PR’s (Personal Records). Once again Oaklea track has just over 100 athletes competing, a testament to the coaching in our building.
Oaklea had a fun assembly on Friday, April 12th. In our continued effort to foster community at school we had our first ever “Charades” competition. Each team was given a random charade and were judged on speed, creativity, and participation. DJKJ (AKA Officer Jackson) was keeping the gym rockin’ and the students were having a blast. It’s fun to see 500 kids doing the Macarena. A first place prize was awarded to each grade with some pretty cool, student built trophies that will be used each time we have a competition at an assembly.
Fifth graders just completed impromptu speeches. They were a ton of fun! The kiddos did an amazing job speaking in front of their peers confidently while enjoying themselves. Sixth grade has been getting into the “Studio” to really take art to new levels. They worked on Frida Kahlo de Rivera collages taking the famous Mexican artist and adapting her self-portraits with different parts, colors, and designs. This is the last year of our art grants and the support from Art Core, Lane County Arts, and Studio 2 Schools will be dearly missed. We have been so thankful for the infusion of art back into our building. Seventh graders in Mr. Tedrick’s classes have been engaging in alternative assessment strategies. In addition to standard forms of assessment such as essays and tests, students will be creating theatrical reenactments- called tableaux- depicting key moments of historical world events. These alternative assessments add excitement to the room, but also provide alternative methods for student engagement. Eighth graders in Mrs. Henry’s science classes have been working with motion detectors and graphing speed and acceleration. Coming up they’ll be learning about forces, Newton’s Laws and simple machines. Mrs. Liechty took both the advanced and intermediate bands to the Shasta Invitational Concert Band Festival and performed in front of adjudicators. The band worked hard to perform well at this festival and received a bunch of good feedback that the Oaklea band is already applying to their playing. In addition, selected members of the choir group headed to the Hult Center on April 23rd to perform in the Metropolitan Choral Festival with the Just Sing It choir. Ms. Woods classes are working on Flexible Fridays, where they change up the structure a bit to work on dealing with change in positive ways.
Tuesday, April 23rd was the 8th grade transition to high school meeting at the JCHS cafeteria, 6:00 p.m. This event provides an opportunity to get information about JCHS and freshman year. Oaklea’s progress reports will be coming out the second week of May.
We have revamped how State Testing looks at Oaklea this year. Thank you’s to Erika Vaughn, Jeff and Bob, Mrs. O’Renick, and all of the teachers and aids who have been so flexible in ensuring the computers are ready to go, creating a schedule, and helping some of our students with needs to do their best. In the past we had one room to utilize for all four grades and multiple subjects. This meant that someone had to start testing the moment the testing window opened. Our new look utilizes Chromebook carts and allows students to test in their classrooms. It also means we can have up to four classes testing at the same time which dramatically increases the number of weeks of instruction prior to the test for those historically early testers. We know there are kinks and we are working those out along with making a list of things we need to improve upon for next year, but we are excited for this new opportunity to assess more equitably.
We have a number of exciting trips planned for the remainder of the year so stay tuned for information regarding these opportunities. Ending the month of April and starting May, our 6th graders will participate in the first-ever Oaklea Outdoor School. We’ll have more to report and share in May. There is much to be thankful for at Oaklea; students, staff, and the community! Thank you thank you thank you!
JUNCTION CITY HIGH SCHOOL
Junction City High School students have started the forecasting process for 2019-20 classes. New courses next year will include Intro to Agriculture and Natural Resources, Musical Theatre, Intro to Web Design and Python, and Latin American Culture and Cuisine. At our annual 8th grade Student & Parent meeting, incoming freshmen and their parents learned a bit about how they can successfully transition to high school, and also were provided information on the Summer Bridge Program and other opportunities to connect with the high school before the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.
Our Top Tiger pageant took place on April 13th, with seniors generating funds for The Children's Miracle Network, JC Local Aid, and JCHS activities. Josue Pozos took the crown as the overall winner of this year's pageant and fund raiser. Thanks to our PE teacher McKenzie Doughty for her work throughout this school year organizing and working with our students to put on this amazing, entertaining, and lively annual event.
Representatives from “Advanced Ed” were on our campus for the Accreditation Visit on April 9th and 10th. The team visited almost all classrooms and conducted 29 observations during the 2 days. It was an exciting time to showcase our programs as well as the new building. Before the visit, administration gathered survey feedback from parents, students, and staff. During the visitation, our guests met with several students and parents in two separate panel discussions, as well as our teachers serving as Team Leads. The initial report from the team was positive, and we look forward to reading the detailed report later this spring.
The accreditation process takes place every 5 years. One of the main areas for growth is an area we have already begun working on together as a district team: A shared, common vision. We will be working with the Rural Schools Network to establish this K-12 vision in JC, and adapt it to specific schools. This will involve seeking and considering comprehensive feedback from parents, students, staff, and community members.
Our math teachers recently spent some valuable professional development time with expert math consultant Shannon McCaw. Shannon assisted in our ongoing efforts to strengthen our instructional strategies, formative assessments, and interventions with our students who are struggling with math. We appreciate District Office Administrator Erika Vaughn's support in organizing this important professional learning time that will continue into next year and benefit our students for years to come.
Several JCHS students have recently been working with Ms. Menking on our school's STEM Council. The students recently completed a comprehensive attendance and engagement survey with over 275 JCHS students providing feedback on level of engagement at our school and reasons for non-consistent attendance. The students also attended the Oregon ACTE's "Excellence Through Equity" Conference this week, and had an opportunity to listen to Dr. Pedro Noguera's inspirational presentation. I had an opportunity to join our students for lunch and to continue the conversation about how our students and school adults can work together to make JCHS a positive, productive, and engaging learning environment for each and every student. I was incredibly impressed with the way our students represented our District and community. Our high school administrators will continue working with this group of leadership students to further engage and connect all students to Junction City High School; these students hope to join forces with students from our Social Justice League club as well.
Finally, the JCHS Talent Show assembly took place this past Friday morning and was absolutely amazing! Prom took place this past Saturday night at the Wheeler Pavillion in Eugene, and students and their guests had a wonderful time.
The annual Empty Bowls event took place earlier this week, on Wednesday evening, May 1st at 5pm and was a huge success. The event featured entertainment by student performers throughout our district; those in attendance enjoyed great soups, rolls and cookies prepared by our culinary arts students and if they arrived early enough, their $10 donation also got them a pottery bowl handcrafted by a student artist. JCHS Spring Conferences took place last night, Thursday, May 2nd from 4:30-7:30 and were very well attended.
Another opportunity for fun, fellowship and good food will be taking place at Paradise Springs tomorrow night, Saturday May 4th when the Soroptimists of Junction City host their annual fiesta dinner. Tickets are $75 but should be purchased soon as space is limited and the event is very popular.
Survey after survey shows that Oregonians want the legislature to fund high-quality schools with improved graduation rates, smaller class sizes, safe and welcoming classrooms, more learning time, and a well-rounded education. Some of you may have read about or heard about the Oregon Education Association’s upcoming Day of Action on Wednesday May 8th. Staff in different districts are planning to demonstrate their support for improved state funding for public education in different ways, with teachers in the Eugene 4J and Bethel School Districts planning to “walk out” that day to protest nearly three decades of school budget cuts, and to advocate for a significant K-12 investment. While we very much share their goal, we cannot support political activity that disrupts student learning and instead are working with our association to find alternative ways to collectively advocate for school funding including writing joint letters to the editor and to legislators, wearing “Red for Ed” on Wednesdays, and gathering together after work hours to promote improved school funding in our community. In the coming months, I will keep you apprised of how the school funding conversation is moving forward, and what each of us can do to advocate for improved funding so that every Oregon student gets the high-quality education he or she deserves.
BOARD MEETING NEWS
The April 22nd meeting began with Chair Wadell letting everyone know that next week, May 6th through the 10th, will be Teacher Appreciation Week; please take a moment to acknowledge how wonderful our teachers are and thank them for all they do for our students. Next, Volunteer of the Month Mealeah West was honored for the many, many ways that she contributes to Territorial Elementary through her volunteer efforts. Thank you Mealeah!
The board then considered action items, which included approving amended minutes from the March 4th board meeting as well as approving the minutes from their March 18th board meeting. They also approved several overnight travel requests. The board then approved several resignations that will be effective at the conclusion of the current school year, and then granted a one-year unpaid leave of absence for JCHS science teacher Chris Bolton. Twelve policies were approved without revision, and the upcoming board meeting was rescheduled, as noted at the beginning of this newsletter.
The board also took action to declare a small parcel (May 15-04-21-11, tax lot 05900) as surplus. This parcel is slightly more than one acre, and is what is currently considered “overflow parking” at the Laurel Ball field complex. The parcel is south of the walking path and bridge, and west of the slough. A map depicting the parcel is available at the district office for those who are interested in examining the details. The board’s intention is to eventually put the property up for sale for residential development, using the proceeds from that sale to help pay down the outstanding balance on the land the district purchased at 18th and Rose. While we recognize that selling this parcel may have a short-term impact on parking at the ballfields, the much-larger parking area to the north of that parcel- as well as the parking at Oaklea across the street- will continue to be available for both school activities and youth athletic events. Our community is growing and at some point, a future school board will need to plan for construction of a new school on the 18th and Rose property. The great news is that the site is big enough that the district will be able to significantly increase the amount of available parking to the north of Oaklea when that site is developed for a new school.
The board then moved on to the Discussion Items, first hearing a great presentation from Linda Jackson and Brian Young about our district’s “JC Online” program. The program, now in its second year, is meeting the needs of a great number of students who might otherwise have been homeschooled, enrolled in an online charter, or in need of an out-of-district alternative placement. Information from a satisfaction survey was shared and the results were very, very positive from both participating students and their parents. The board then received Oaklea’s annual report from OMS Assistant Principal Joy O’Renick. Materials related to both of these presentations will be attached to the official minutes for the board meeting; the official minutes are housed at the District Office.
The final items for the evening included discussion of the monthly financial updates and student enrollment for the month of April. Our April enrollment is down 7 students from last month, due primarily to a drop of 6 students at JCHS, some of whom completed their graduation requirements early. Overall, Laurel is up by 25 students over last year’s enrollment, Territorial is down a few students and Oaklea is up several students. The high school’s enrollment is up significantly, with an average of 34 more students enrolled there this year as compared to last year. Next year’s senior class is a large one with 142 students, while next year’s entering freshmen class is expected to be slightly smaller at 135 students.
The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 22nd at 6 PM. Until then, GO TIGERS!