The Ottumwa Courier

Education

May 6, 2013

Day off? Not when it means improving OHS

OTTUMWA — Supporters of Ottumwa High School have seen measurable improvement at their building. They want more.

A cleanup day brought kids, parents and teachers to the school on what’s usually a day off.  Some of the adults, normally wearing business suits with jacket and tie, were tough to recognize in jeans, muddy sneakers and sweatshirts.

Principal Mark Hanson, wearing an old hoodie, said the three dozen volunteers had “a good time.” That was despite the fact that recent rains had one of the areas being revamped during the “cleanup day” looking like a mud pit.

“I like the mud -- and I think it’s fun,” said Mady Feather, an OHS sophomore doing her part Saturday.

The mud was thick enough that one student stepped back onto “dry land” and was suddenly missing a shoe.  Mady went in after it.  That's the kind of thing faculty wants to see. While school climate is not perfect at OHS, students are getting along with each other better than ever, say administrators.  And they have the numbers to back that up, they said.

This year, 81.5% of students participate in the third survey taken annonymously via the Iowa Safe and Supportive Schools program.  Associate Principal Zach Wigle noted the biggest change was in student-to-student relationships, which went from 0 out of 3 in 2011 to 2 out of 3 in 2013. This measures the extent to which students demonstrate care for, respect for and collaboration with one another.

“The overall index score went up from 19 to 21 out of 36 possible," said Zach Wigle, the Safe and Supportive Schools grant administrator. "It is up four points (from 17 from) the initial student survey taken in 2011."

The score attempts to quantify a school's optimal learning conditions. Surveys are taken of students, parents and staff.

While the results have improved over three years, a recent press release from the high school said “the scores indicate OHS still needs intensive, targeted support to improve conditions for learning.”

Julie Wigle is the OHS faculty member who oversees activities that use Iowa  Safe and Supportive Schools (IS3) funding. She’s familiar with the guidelines.

“We can pay for [landscaping supplies] but they like to see a ‘service learning project’ when [possible to work as a community],” she said.

During this past year, grant activities included the development of the school's "10 Standards for Success," efforts to improve parent involvement and school spirit; a new graduation coach who is employed to work with 30-40 struggling students and environmental improvements such as the new paint in hallways and the cafeteria.

In fact, when “graded” using the Safe and Secure Schools survey criteria, OHS saw improvement or good scores in safety and relationship building.  One category that didn’t improve: Physical Environment.  Julie Wigle said that’s what encouraged groups that have a stake in improving OHS -- The Youth Leadership Team, made up of students,  and parents represented on the School Community Council -- to have a cleanup day.

And that, said students, explains the slogging through mud, the carrying of mulch and the raking, shoveling and sweeping over the weekend.

“I like the idea that we are all coming together to make the school look better,” Mady said.  “I don’t see it as a chore; I think the student body should  want to do this.”

1
Text Only
Education
  • 15-minutes.png A change at Evans

    OTTUMWA — You can get kids to memorize facts. But teaching them to think can take more time. Educational leaders told the Ottumwa school board that the school year that begins 2014 will shift Evans Middle School students from 45-minute periods to 60-

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Agriculture Day color photo 2 -T -L -M Cardinal students celebrate Ag Day ELDON — Sometimes the best way to learn is to get out of the classroom and come face-to-face with things that you might not see every day. Students at Cardinal Elementary School got that chance Thursday during Ag Day. Every year, the Cardinal FFA and

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418 OTT Joe Tafta color photo -L -T -M Pursuing opportunities

    OTTUMWA — Joe Tafta follows the rules. The Simpson College junior hopes to be a U.S. marshal one day, so he’s careful about what he says and does. But not always. On the afternoon of April 1, Tafta says, he nearly got booted out of Dunn Library for m

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Carrying bookbags a balancing act OTTUMWA — Permission slips. Notes from teachers. School activity announcements, birthday invitations, report cards and homework to sign. Kids bring home a lot of stuff. But is it done fairly? The school board this week was asked by ranking members of

    April 16, 2014

  • Van Buren to share FFA with Harmony KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren Community School Board approved a recommendation from its administration to share the ag program with Harmony for the 2014-15 school year. The decision means that Van Buren students would travel to Harmony to receive ag instruct

    April 16, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0416 OTT Ron Oswalt mug -T School board member resigns

    OTTUMWA — As this week's school board meeting came to a close, the president read a letter from one of the members. Board President Carol Mitchell read that fellow board member Ron Oswalt was announcing his resignation from the Ottumwa Board of Educa

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0410 OTT picture Bracelets -M -T Caring Kids

    OTTUMWA — Five fourth-graders didn't need grownups to show them it feels good to help others. They found out firsthand. "I wanted to do a project with the bracelets I make. And it's better to help people than to just do a random project," Kennedy Hug

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0410 OTT Fairfield business students photo color Fairfield students proving to be future leaders

    FAIRFIELD — At Fairfield High School, students interested in making a career in a business-related field have the chance to join the Fairfield chapter of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), a nonprofit organization that helps prepare them for

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National