Hoping to encourage more interest and participation in basketball at the middle school level, the Wawasee school board approved a pilot program that will cause some changes to seventh and eighth grade basketball.
Approval was given during the regular monthly meeting of the school board Tuesday evening in Syracuse.
Steve Wiktorowski, athletic director, said staff weren’t sure they were getting enough out of the middle school feeder programs. So basketball coaches put together a plan hoping to generate more interest and see more carryover in basketball from the middle school level to high school.
The plan is to have the seventh grade girls from both Wawasee Middle School and Milford Middle School practice together, as well as the seventh grade boys. The eighth-graders for both girls and boys would do the same.
“We would divide each grade level (for boys and girls) into two teams and one would follow the Milford schedule, the other the Wawasee Middle School schedule,” Wiktorowski said. Eighth grade boys will practice at Milford and seventh grade boys at WMS. For the girls, eighth-graders will practice at WMS and seventh-graders at Milford.
Green and gold teams will be created for each grade level as equally as possible. Gold teams will follow the current WMS schedule and green teams the current Milford schedule. “B” teams would be eliminated.
It was noted Wawasee competes in a middle school conference for athletics against schools considerably larger such as Warsaw, Huntington and Columbia City. Those schools have larger numbers of kids playing basketball, while numbers have been down for Wawasee particularly in girls basketball.
Wiktorowski noted some concerns have been expressed about traveling, though he said buses will be provided. “We are trying to make this as easy as possible,” he said.
Rob Fisher, school board member, said he is concerned some kids could be left alone in the parking lot waiting for a ride after a game or practice. Wiktorowski said coaches are aware of the situation and it will be discussed.
In other business, during her report to the board Joy Goshert, director of instruction and curriculum, said training is being provided to staff, employees and students on preventing bullying. A new state law requires schools to provide such training. Goshert said school administrators are to hold staff members accountable to recognize and report acts of bullying.
Staff and administrators need to be aware of the definitions of bullying, how to recognize it, what the protocol is for reporting incidents to administrators and how they can contribute to creating a safe school environment.
Other business included the board approving the hiring of Derrick Fisher as the instructor for the new marine mechanics program at Wawasee High School. Fisher is a mechanic at Wawasee Boat Company and will also be used to help with the automotive service program at Wawasee.
The marine mechanics program, a half-day program, will begin during the second trimester.
Also on the agenda, the board was provided copies of proposed new vision and mission statements for the school corporation. A new slogan for Wawasee will be “Nothing Less Than Success.” Fisher asked if the mission statement could be shortened so it could be remembered easier. No vote was taken on either statement.
(For a more in-depth account of the school board meeting, see today’s issue of The Mail-Journal.)