SYRACUSE — Teachers Kristin Bonner and Mindy Coblentz have dreams and goals for Wawasee Performing Arts. During the regular monthly meeting of the Wawasee School Board Tuesday evening, Dec. 11, in Syracuse, the two teachers shared those goals and also gave a presentation about a fall break trip to New York City Oct. 18-22.
Wawasee Performing Arts essentially consists of Drama Club students, many of whom perform in Wawasee High School plays. Bonner and Coblentz noted they would like to see more travel opportunities for students, see the creation of a performing arts department for grades six to 12, get middle schools more involved in performing arts, have a performing arts director and also a community facility. The auditorium at the high school is currently being upgraded.
During the fall break trip to the Big Apple, the group participated in a improvisation class, a makeup workshop and a stage fighting workshop, which is choreography designed to create the illusion of physical combat without actually causing harm to performers. The group also met with Broadway performer Tess Ferrell, noted for her ability to act in varying roles with very little time to prepare, and saw three musicals and one play.
There was an educational component to the trip including a visit to the 9/11 Memorial, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center, Times Square and a visit to the set of “The Today Show.” They were also able to visit Central Park, walk down Fifth Avenue and visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral. A $6,000 Dekko grant funded the trip.
A few students spoke also at the board meeting including Evan Coblentz, who said he was so inspired by the New York City trip he changed his career plans from working in the field of genetics to pursuing a career on Broadway.
In other business, the board heard a report from Assistant Superintendent Joy Goshert about school accountability letter grades. For the 2017-18 school year federal letter grades were issued for the first time. There are differences in how the state and federal systems work and the procedure is complicated.
Both systems rely on ISTEP+ data, but the state system relies on it much more because the federal system takes into account the progress of English language learners and also attendance rates.
There will be changes in how letter grades are issued because ISTEP+ is being replaced by a new test during the 2018-19 school year.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, it was noted by Kim Nguyen, principal of Wawasee High School, changes will be made in the driver’s education program. Students will now be able to take the driving test in driver’s education and then get their license at a Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch. In the past, the test had to be taken at a BMV branch.
Nguyen said he contacted the Indiana Department of Education and found out how the school can be certified to administer the test. “We were able to get certified,” he said.
Other agenda items included:
• WHS Iron Pride Robotics received a $10,000 donation from the Shoop Sports and Youth Foundation.
• WHS students Conner Lucas, Nick Lesko and Devin Van Lue will host a radio-a-thon from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, on 93.7 FM The Mix. The goal is raise $3,000 for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.
• Wawasee DECA Club received four donations of $500 or more for a trip to attend a conference in New York City Dec. 5-8.
• Approval was given for administrators in the school corporation to receive a 1 percent pay raise and classified employees will get a 2 percent raise.
• LuAnn Kissinger was appointed to the North Webster Library board of directors and Dave VanLue reappointed to the Syracuse Parks and Recreation board.
• Wawasee’s property and casualty insurance premium is $95,289 for the 2018-19 school year, down from $99,480 the previous year.