WINDING DOWN UNTIL SUMMER BREAK: Whitko eyes end of school year

PIERCETON — With less than three months until another school year comes to a close for summer vacation, Whitko Community School Corporation facilities continue with various activities from talents shows to an annual Tin Caps game. Pierceton Elementary School Principal Eric Speicher reported on Indiana Reading Enrichment and Development (IREAD) for third-grade students and Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) testing.“We (PES) did our IREAD testing for third-grade students beginning on Monday and the end of April is the last round of ISTEP for fourth and fifth-grade students,” Speicher said at its board of school trustees monthly meeting Monday evening. ”Fourth and fifth-grade students ISTEP is online and third-grade students is paper and pencil.”In technology, 20 iPads were purchased for PES students in kindergarten through second-grade which will be the last purchase for the school year.“We (PES) are gong to make sure we are using (iPads) in an educational way, not just a fun way,” Speicher said.Speicher said the science learning fair and Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) carnival held March 2 was a success, with approximately 150 exhibits in the science and learning portion for kindergarten through fifth-grade students.“There was a lot of effort put into the science learning fair and PTO carnival with the largest crowd ever at PES and combing the events helped,” Speicher said. “We (PES) will most likely continue in the future, but it’s an option program. I saw a lot of families spending time together and that was just really good to see.”Doughnuts for Dads took place on March 16 at PES with approximately 300 adult males attending the morning event according to Speicher.“I was just totally blown away by the turn out that we had for Doughnuts for Dads,” Speicher said.Kindergarten welcome (formally called kindergarten round-up) will be from 6 to 7 p.m. on April 19 at PES.South Whitley Elementary School principal Bruce Hansen reported on the First Class Bulldogs award recognition held last Friday with a huge crowd attending.“We are getting larger crowds at this (First Class Bulldogs) event and everything we (SWES) are putting on,” Hansen said. IREAD testing is currently taking place at SWES with a practice test session held on Tuesday.The PTO is sponsoring a mother-son night this Friday, and it includes a pirate theme.“April 13 is Young Author’s Day which is called ‘Gift of Reading’ with everybody in staff reading a different book,” Hansen said. “This is organized through young authors commitment.”The annual Tin Caps game field trip is set for April 18. In order to attend the game, kindergarten through fifth-grade students must earn a specified number of points through the Accelerated Reader program.“If students don’t reach a (point) goal, they don’t go on April 18,” Hansen said.SWES kindergarten open house and pre-registration is 5:30 to 7 p.m. on April 18 in the cafeteria.“It (kindergarten open-house and pre-registration) won’t be a modified round-up,” Hansen said. “We will be doing that in August before school starts, the open house and pre-registration is to get a (student) count and know what to expect next year.”The first annual SWES talent show will be at 6:30 p.m. on April 27 in the school cafeteria. Four categories will include vocals, dance, instrumental and miscellaneous. Contact music teacher Patricia Shoemaker at for more detailed information.Whitko Middle School (WMS) principal Jerry Klausing said the month of March has been proclaimed as Disability Awareness Month with a pledge campaign sponsored by Candice Preston, whose expertise is in language arts.“R-word” awareness activities are scheduled nation-wide to “Spread the Word to End the Word,” a campaign to stop the use of the word “retard.”“She (Preston) is sponsoring a campaign which is a national campaign to encourage others to stop using the word retard or any form of that word,” Klausing said. “We have banners for each grade level where students can pledge to stop using the ‘R’ word.”The WMS archery team finished in fifth place at the state competition held in Muncie last Friday. “WMS student Cody Gardner placed fourth in the middle school division out of 55 schools,” Klausing said. “Sixth-grade student Derek Eberly won a $600 compound bow in a raffle drawing and we (WMS) also won the spirit award for the second year in a row out of 55 schools.”The archery team qualified for the nationals in Louisville with transportation arrangements currently being planned. More details will follow at a later date.Klausing said over $900 was raised for the Uganda project.“Uganda project raised over $900 for our sister school St. Charles,” Klausing said. “Funding is used for scholarships to that school.”The end of the year awards for WMS students is at 6 p.m. on May 30.Whitko High School (WHS) principal Parrish Kruger reported on the third annual “Jarrod Day” beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the high school gym on March 29. Admission is $1 per student, along with popcorn and soda for $1 each.“All donations go to a needy family,” Kruger said.Kruger thanked WCSC board secretary Roger Boggs for the Feb. 23 field trip as part of the Cats’ Pride program.“The theme for the (Feb. 23) field trip was ‘from here to there’ looking at a lot of places within our district, seeing where our (WHS) students are coming from, and showing small town skills,” Kruger said. “We went to DePuy in Warsaw and saw the high end of manufacturing, learned the importance of safety and I learned a great deal on that trip.”Kruger said the choir contest on March 15 was a wonderful program.On April 28, City Ford (Columbia City) will hold their annual “drive one for your school” event.“You can stop by, go drive a brand new vehicle and the high school receives $20 for this which is used for scholarships,” Kruger said. “The National Honor Society also uses the money for various programs.”In financial business, Director of Financial Operations Tom McFarland reported on the 1782 Notice which is a preliminary budget determination and not a final budget certification.“The 1782 Notice came back as expected and none of our (WCSC) funds were cut severely, except for the Capital Projects Fund (CPF) which we knew would cut,” McFarland said. “As far as our budget goes, we are right on track for February, and on all funds we are right where we should be.”The CPF sows a minor cut according to McFarland, which is due to changes in pension funding.“$350,000 was cut in CPF, but this amount will be reinstated in 2013,” McFarland said.In other business, the board approved the summer food service program held at PES for the past two years.“Anyone under 18 years-old can have a free meal,” McFarland said. “The program begins at the end of the school year and goes through July, excluding the fourth of July.”Last year, approximately 100 lunches were served daily. The lunches asre federally funded based on free and reduced lunches.“We (WCSC) get refunded based on free and reduced lunches,” McFarland said.Board vice-president Jorell Tucker said the lunch program would be great to introduce at SWES in the future.In old business, the board approved Barton Coe Vilamaa (Fort Wayne) as the architect firm and Umbaugh and Associates as the financial advisor for the potential building project.The hiring of these two companies is the first phase toward the building project for a referendum decision to be made by registered voters.In an effort to provide the best educational facilities possible, a 27-member committee consisting of administrators, teachers, parents and civic and political leaders was formed in Oct. and met eight different times, for two hours each. The committee’s goal was to provide the school board with the most appropriate, well-maintained and effective education environment for students. Presented to the board in December, the 25-year facilities plan was broke into three different categories consisting of a short term plan (three to five years); mid-term plan (five to 15 years); and a long range plan. In February, the board accepted the recommendation of the 25-year facility goal committee which includes renovation to SWES and a new PES facility in the far future. The board will now determine what is feasible based on the principle that no taxes will be raised for this potential project.Once the board gets a firm idea of specific needs, costs and possible layouts of facilities from these two financial firms, they can then move forward with the design work. Design work includes more specifics on exact site locations for a new PES building. The committee believes PES could be located on the existing campus.The next meeting is at 7:30 p.m. on April 16.