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Superintendent’s Corner Week of Jan. 23, 2017 Dr. Debbie Johnson What does it take to build a program from the ground up?  The answer of course is not simple and the process is not quick.  The Oral Interp program is an example of a SDHSAA activity that is growing, one building block at a time.  Oral Interp is the actual performing of literature aloud to communicate meaning to an audience. Back in 2010 the Oral Interp program was cut from the CSD budget due to a lack of state funding for the district’s over-all budget.  In 2015 the school board decided to bring back the program as many students had expressed an interest and there were willing staff members to fill the advisor position.  Former CHS teacher, Rita Cook, began the resurgence of the program with six students participating in the activity during the 2015-16 school year. At the end of the season, one individual made it to state competition (Mikayla Meyer) and two were selected as alternates. Since then, Amanda Longhenry has enthusiastically taken over the advisor role. The 2016-17 school year boasted 24 students who participated during the season, nine qualifying for region and eight qualifying for state competition. The resurgence began with students from the previous year encouraging others to join the activity.  They had meetings in the spring, met during the summer for “Oral Interp Camp” and planned fun activities together (eating and bowling!) At all of these events, they began discussing and choosing their selections for the up-coming competitions.  Even though students have a wide variety of choices for their selections, what they choose must fit into one of the following categories:   1) Non-Original Oratory, 2) Serious Reading, 3) Poetry Reading,                              4) Humorous Reading, 5) Duet Interpretation, 6) Story Telling and 7) Readers Theatre.  Before competing at events, the group sponsored a very successful Dinner Theatre which helped them defray some costs of the program.  Students performed their competition selections for their families and community members.  There is no score board and there are no time outs in Oral Interp.  However, practice time is the key to success. Students gain confidence in speaking in front of others, learn aspects of timing and transitioning and understand the importance of taking deep breaths. Some side benefits are meeting new people and making new friends.  They work to earn a superior rating at the state competition, the equivalent of a state championship in the sports world.  During the regular season CHS students competed in Pierre, Sioux Falls and Chamberlain.  Chamberlain was a home contest with staff and community members being the judges. The judges were impressed with the quality and variety of the selections that were performed.  After the regular season there was a region competition and finally the State Oral Interp Festival in Harrisburg, SD.  Mrs. Longhenry took several students to Brandon Valley after the season was over to meet with Gina Koehn (Oral Interp Coach and former CHS Graduate.)  They observed an Oral Interp class, reviewed new pieces that they could possibly use for next year and gathered tips and ideas to improve their performances and program. The building of a program from the ground up takes time, patience and commitment.  All of which are represented in the current Oral Interp program.  We look for it to have a bright future! ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
Posted by RuhlmanH  On Jan 26, 2017 at 10:19 AM
Superintendent’s Corner Dr. Debra Johnson Week of Dec. 5 So far this school year we’ve had an early release, late start and a full school day cancelled.  So I guess you could say we have “covered our bases.”  With that being said, we want to be sure that all parents and students have a plan when one of these winter events happens.  What’s Your Plan?  The district will use several types of communication to either identify any of the above events, but none of them come without student anticipation of getting out unexpectedly and parent concerns with knowing whether their children remembers the family “plan.” Communication is a priority for the district.  However, sometimes things don’t go as planned; that is why we have several ways of communicating with parents when an Early Dismissal, Late Start or School Cancellation is announced.  Our School Messenger system seems to be working well this year and parent notifications have gone smoothly.  Needless to say, that may not always be the case. Please know that there are other sources of reliable information if school is dismissed early, we have a late start, or school is cancelled all together.  They are all username/password protected and only school officials know these identifiers and the procedures of how to use each system. These reliable sources are: **KELO, KSFY, and KTTW TV stations **CUB Nation Facebook Page **Chamberlain School District twitter account @CSD71 KPLO Radio Station, 94.5-Dakota Radio Group Chamberlain School App **KWYR: Magic 93, Winner Radio Station   It is the superintendent’s responsibility to make the decision on an early dismissal, late start, or school cancellation.  It is not a decision that is taken lightly as I know the safety of those traveling is on my shoulders.  Even though it is sometimes difficult to make the call, there are many others that can be relied upon to help make the best decision.  Ronn Pickner, the district busing contractor, and I talk frequently during the winter months.  Ronn goes out and checks the roads and lets me know what might be the best decision in terms of the bus routes.  In addition, there are several sources of communication used before a final decision is made.  I use the web-sites www.noaa.org and www.SafeTravelUSA.com for up-to-date weather reports.  The area superintendent’s network is very helpful and includes, Murdo, Winner, Lyman, and Kimball.  Most often, what is happening to the west of us is key in making a decision. Many students don’t know what my daily responsibilities are in the district, but it seems as though a lot of them know I’m the one who calls off school.  High school students usually talk to me about how slick the roads are, how I wouldn’t want anyone going in the ditch, would I? and how a little extra sleep never hurt anyone.  I always let them know I’ll keep their advice in mind as I make the decision. The district will continue to keep communication a top priority, especially during weather emergencies; please discuss your Weather Plan with your student(s).  Also, keep in mind there are several ways we communicate important information to parents and community members and we ask that you use the one that is most easily accessible and trust-worthy for you.
Posted by RuhlmanH  On Jan 26, 2017 at 10:18 AM
Superintendent’s Corner Week of Oct. 24, 2016 Dr. Debbie Johnson   ATTENDANCE MATTERS!  Excitement had been growing at the elementary school the past few weeks as elementary students came closer to meeting their attendance goal.  If the goal was met, Mr. Almond would sleep on top of the school roof…and he did on Mon. Oct. 24.  The attendance goal was: 80% of the students would attend school 90% of the days in the first quarter.  Well, the students passed that goal and 85% of the elementary students attended school 94% of the time! CHS and CMS also have an attendance goal this year: 80% of the students attend school 90% of the enrollment days.  Incentives for this group of students are different than for the elementary but the importance of school attendance is still the same.  The main reason for attending school is not only to put Mr. Almond on the roof, but also to increase student success in school.  Academic achievement while learning together can be very powerful.  There has been a push across the state and nation for student attendance to increase.  You may have seen newspaper articles, social media posts or TV commercials emphasizing school attendance.  Here are three reasons that attendance matters: Higher attendance makes it easier to learn how to read. Students with high absenteeism affect all kids, not just themselves. High attendance rates are a clear indicator of high school graduation. How did the elementary students meet this goal?  We are hoping students let their parents know about the goal but also that they wanted to be in school.  It is great that the goal was achieved, but we need students to be in school every day for the rest of the school year-we need to sustain this number even without Mr. Almond sleeping on the roof.  It just needs to be an every-day occurrence. So you ask, “What’s in it for students?” School is their first and most important job. School becomes more difficult when students are not in school—there is too much makeup work and many of the concepts are not understood. Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school and themselves. What can parents do to contribute to attendance and student success? Talk with your child every day about school! Keep your own attendance chart at home, recognizing your child for going to school every day; review the chart with your child. Don’t let students stay home unless they are truly sick. Develop back-up plans for getting to school if something interrupts the usual plan or routine. Try to avoid appointments and extended trips when school is in session. Set a regular bed time and morning routine. We also know that it is a partnership between the school and parents if children are going to succeed and be in school every day.  As a district we will communicate with parents about their child’s attendance, work together to determine how children get to school if there is a problem with transportation and utilize the services of our school nurse to keep children healthy. Having Mr. Almond sleep on top of the roof helped increase attendance the first quarter, will we look forward to something else second quarter?
Posted by RuhlmanH  On Jan 26, 2017 at 10:16 AM
Superintendent’s Corner Week of Sept.19, 2016 Dr. Debra Johnson   In addition to having the school year off to a positive start, the Chamberlain School District has had many reasons to be proud over the past few months.  The awarding of two Classroom Innovation Grants, the 21st Century Grant (PAWS) and the Let’s Move Active National Award will have a big impact in our schools.  Translating those into money, over the next five years the grant awards will bring in over $850,000 to the district.  That’s a lot of cash!   It’s important for district patrons to understand that writing grants and award nominations is not easy.  The staff members in the district put a considerable amount of time (beyond the school day) into completing the writing for these projects.  The question then is why?  Why do staff members do all of this extra work?  And the answer is…because of our students.  Staff members want to create interesting and unique opportunities for students while using a variety of technologies in their classrooms.   Below are some of the actual statements from the applications that show our staff members’ passion for what they do and why they write grants and award nominations.   PAWS:  “There is no question we want our students to succeed academically, but most importantly we want them to feel wanted and valued.  We believe if we can give them this, then our program is worth all the time and effort.” 3rd Grade Innovation Grant:  “The third grade team at Chamberlain Elementary is excited about changing ‘business as usual.’  We recognize the need to develop children who grow to become critical and creative thinkers who will one day be productive citizens.” MS Innovation Grant:  “Through this initiative we will drive the culture of change to a student driven, customized learning experience.” Let’s Move Award:  “Chamberlain is helping to provide our students with skills and knowledge they’ll use the rest of their lives.”   Once grants are awarded, the work is not done but continues.  There is the organizing of the projects, tracking of the completion of goals and student achievement and submitting quarterly reports to the state department.  In addition, our business manager, Holly Nagel, completes the financial reports that need to be submitted to the state.  The district is held very accountable for the tracking of grant funds.  In fact, before the grants were awarded, Holly and I had to verify to the state the business office procedures, explain our experience with previous grants and verify we understand the documenting and accountability procedures that will be expected of the district.   Will we have more grants to apply for and more award nominations to submit?  We certainly think so and we know with the dedicated and committed staff members we have, our students can look forward to many challenging and motivating classroom experiences now and in the future.
Posted by RuhlmanH  On Jan 26, 2017 at 10:14 AM
Supt. Corner Week of Nov. 21, 2016 Dr. Debra Johnson When the holidays roll around thoughts and actions of giving tend to come up quite often. However, I’ve noticed that the spirit of giving happens throughout the year at the elementary, middle, and high schools. One of the programs that inspires giving at the beginning of the school year is Jeans Because. Wearing jeans on Fridays doesn’t come without a cost to staff members. When the school year begins, staff members donate money to the Jeans Because account and then throughout the school year, the funds are used in a variety of ways. The focus of the giving from Jeans Because is mainly centered around students. Last year there was a student at the high school who did not have dress clothes for one of the concerts. The fund bought clothes for him and he was ready to participate and “shine” in the concert. On another occasion, staff members could see the passion for art in a student who wanted to work on drawing and painting skills outside of school. They stepped up and bought the student art supplies. Funds have also been used to buy gifts to put under the Angel Tree, a holiday project sponsored by the Student Council and Advisor, Kelli Pazour. There are other programs throughout the district that inspire giving. The elementary staff members have a long-established Sunshine Club which does just what it says, brightens people’s days. When there is a birthday, illness or death in the family, the Sunshine Club will be there to offer a positive note, send a flower, or give a gift card. You may remember the Sock Drive that elementary counselor Kayla DeJong organized. It was a tremendous success with plenty of socks for those who were in need. Last year, the Speech, Language Therapists organized a Shoe Drive. There is a designated spot where the shoes are located and when a student needs a pair, they go to the “Shoe Shop.” The spirit of giving by the staff members also inspires students to do the same. A couple of weeks ago, when the K9 police dog-Arres passed away, 5th grade students sent cards to Officer Harmon to let him know they were thinking of him and that Arres would be missed. He in return, came to the school and acknowledged what the students had done and thanked them. There are side benefits to students and staff members from spontaneous giving or giving through an organized program. Research studies and experts point out that giving actually has positive effects on people: 1) an increase in feelings of happiness, 2) offering of health benefits, 3) promoting cooperation and social connection, 4) spreading of gratitude and finally 5) it’s contagious! We’ll keep the giving in place at school, not only during the holidays but throughout the year and hopefully our actions will inspire others and be contagious.
Posted by RuhlmanH  On Nov 30, 2016 at 2:21 PM