By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE — Wawasee will expand its virtual learning program into the middle school grades beginning with the 2021-22 school year. Approval was given for the expansion during the regular monthly meeting of the Wawasee School Board Tuesday evening, May 11, in Syracuse.
Virtual learning for the entire current school year has only been offered to high school students using the APEX online learning system. Sara Harrison, who coordinates virtual learning, gave a report to the school board and said a total of 215 unique students have participated in virtual learning between the three trimesters.
Among the several reasons listed for students to participate in virtual learning are to address health concerns, it is an alternative to suspension and expulsion and students can earn credits and continue their education instead of dropping out.
“There has been a learning curve as this has developed,” noted Dr. Steve Troyer, superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. He also noted “virtual learning is not the best option for most students, but it is the best option for some students.”
Rebecca Linnemeier of the school board asked if any criteria is being used to find out if the students in virtual learning are at home alone all day or if they have any kind of support. Don Bokhart, president of the school board, said it would probably be a good idea to have some kind of in-person contact with the students in virtual learning.
Troyer noted there is a learning support team consisting of teachers, building administrators and guidance counselors. Most of the contact is virtual, though, with the exception of when discussions are held with parents to determine if virtual learning is the best option for a student.
Harrison will continue to coordinate virtual learning with the assistance of at least one paraprofessional and possibly a second one depending on how many students are in the program.
In other business, the Turn Around Achievement Award winners were recognized. The award is given to one student from each school in grades five, eight and 12 who have had significant turnarounds in behavior, attitude, attendance or academics.
Grade five winners are Jayden Ortiz-Flores (Milford), Christopher Derrickson (North Webster) and David Cline (Syracuse). Eighth grade winners are Cameron Jones (Milford) and Camryn Reynolds (Wawasee Middle School) and the 12th grade winner is Ethan Carey (Wawasee High School).
Principals of each school shared some comments about their students before presenting their awards.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, among the personnel recommendations approved was the resignation of Cory Schutz, high school athletic director, effective June 30. Nothing was said about the resignation during the meeting and Troyer indicated after the meeting he had no separate statement prepared to release to the media at least for the time being.
Some other personnel recommendations approved were the hiring of RaShella Wilfong as the director of curriculum, assessment and data for the school corporation effective July 1, and the retirement of Dave Van Lue, director of technology, effective July 15.
In other business, a brief report of proposed summer construction or renovation projects was given by James Flecker, personnel director. He said construction costs have risen considerably during the past year and “there are no deals this year.”
Projects will be focused on WMS and WHS and include well replacements, new teacher desks, gym bleachers upgrade, replacing remaining chalk boards with white boards, new electrical panels in the natatorium, sanding and refinishing the gym floor, replacing the PA cabinet system, upgrading the refrigerant monitor in the kitchen, carpet and flooring upgrades and upgrading the gym controls at WMS.
At the high school, the chiller insulation on the roof will be replaced, industrial washers and dryers will be upgraded, refrigerant monitors upgraded in the kitchen, lot lines and equipment will be added to make the softball parking lot dual purpose as a band practice lot, converting light switches, upgrading the cafeteria sound system, upgrading the video broadcast system to high definition, upgrading AC split units in two rooms, carpet and flooring upgrades and selective paint upgrades.
Also approved during Tuesday’s meeting was the high school building trades project for the 2021-22 school year, a new house in the White Tail Run subdivision at Camelot Lake.
Other agenda items included:
• WHS received a $1,000 donation from the Kosciusko County Community Foundation for the Mitchell J. Price Memorial Scholarship to be presented at Senior Awards Night May 19.
• WHS Academic Hall of Fame received at $500 donation from the Knights of Columbus to be used for the banquet.
• WHS Key Club received a $1,000 donation from Earlham College to be used for the Warrior Hope Garden, a yellow tulip project designed to bring awareness to mental health issues.
• Wawasee’s baseball program held its Warrior Care Day with 29 athletes participating in yard work community service projects at homes in the local area.
• Local eye doctors donated time to evaluate first graders in the school corporation.
• Dr. Troyer noted there were 28 total positive COVID cases in April but May has so far been much calmer.