Graduation date could move back a week in 2015

Verona Area High School seniors would have to attend three days more in the 2014-15 school year than those graduating this spring if a new graduation date is approved.

VAHS principal Pam Hammen brought the proposed change, which would move the date back one week, to the school board Monday night after what she said was a few years of conversation with the site council.

Currently, seniors graduate the first weekend in June, while students in grades 9-11 attend school for at least part of the next week.

The plan would instead have seniors join the rest of the school for that last week and have graduation the second weekend. For 2015, that would fall on June 14.

Hammen said the change would bring many positives, including more days of instruction for the seniors and eliminating some disruption from those classes that have multiple grades and therefore are missing part of their class for some days.


Country View fair photos

Country View Elementary School students showed their classmates and families their science experiments and written works at the school’s science and author fairs Friday, April 4.


Committee will rethink school calendar

The Verona Area School District recently created its second new committee of the year focused on outlining the district’s future.

This one, though, won’t look at how to structure a school or redraw boundary lines. Instead, it will consider remodeling or expanding that traditional September to early June schedule that schools have run on for much of their history.

“I don’t envision a meeting to just decide ‘okay this is spring break, this is winter break,’” VASD superintendent Dean Gorrell said.

The goals of the new committee include looking specifically at the 2015-16 school year calendar, how to extend the school year, increase or maximize hours of instruction and increase the amount of time available for staff development.

Gorrell said the focus is especially on finding more time for teacher-parent interaction as the district moves toward every student having a personalized learning plan by the 2016-17 school year.


Four finalists for BRMS principal opening

The Verona Area School District has narrowed the field to four finalists for the Badger Ridge Middle School principal job.

A committee including parents and district administrators looked at applications from the original 108 applicants for the job, held a first round of interviews and will now hold a second round for the finalists in the coming weeks.

The goal is to put forward a candidate at the school board’s April 21 meeting, superintendent Dean Gorrell said.

Current BRMS principal David Jennings will retire at the end of the year.

The finalists are:

• Paul Christiansen, associate principal at Fort Atkinson Middle School

• Sandy Eskrich, associate principal at Savanna Oaks Middle School

• Mary Kramer, associate principal at Oregon High School

• Todd DeBruin, principal at Farnsworth Middle School in Sheboygan


SOMS student named state semifinalist in geography bee

Photo submitted. Savanna Oaks Middle School student Aaron Young will participate in the Wisconsin Geography Bee April 4 with a chance to win $100 and a trip to Washington, D.C.

A Savanna Oaks Middle School eighth-grader was named a semifinalist in the 2014 Wisconsin State Geographic Bee.

The National Geographic Society awarded Aaron Young, who was the Geography Bee winner at SOMS, the honor, and he will now compete Friday, April 4, at American Family Insurance.

The state bee is the second level of the National Geographic Bee, which is in its 26th year. Fourth- through eighth-grade students throughout the state competed at their schools to determine a winner.

Winners had to take a qualifying test, and the National Geographic Society invited the top 100 scorers in each state to their state’s bee.

The state winner will receive $100, the “Complete National Geographic” on DVD and a trip to Washington, D.C. to represent Wisconsin in the national bee May 19-21. The national winner will receive a $50,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.


Two for one: Spanish-English immersion thriving at elementaries

Photos by Scott Girard. Kindergartner Elena Haffner, a native-English speaker, practices her reading in the Spanish classroom in front of her classmates. Teacher Danielle Kison had students come up and point to the words as they read them out loud.

Kindergarten teacher Danielle Kison sits in front of her class reading “Where is the fly?”

But instead of “Where is the fly?” the book’s cover reads “Donde esta la mosca?”

Every page that followed is in Spanish, as well. But this isn’t a Spanish class.

Instead, it’s the reading time of the day in the Spanish classroom in the Verona Area School District’s “Two-Way Immersion” program at Glacier Edge Elementary School.

The first-year program, which is also at Sugar Creek, has English- and Spanish-speaking students working together in a pair of classrooms, one taught entirely in English, the other entirely in Spanish.

“It’s really amazing to see how they’re growing in English but right alongside in Spanish, and vice-versa,” said Angie Rahn, who teaches the English part of the program at GE.

“Being able to learn a language at the same time as their first language helps so much,” Kison added.


School science fair photos

Students at four schools around the Verona Area School District recently showed off their science knowledge with a mix of creativity at their schools’ science fairs. Stoner Prairie Elementary, Glacier Edge Elementary, Core Knowledge and Savanna Oaks Middle School all held their fairs in late February and early March. The rest of the district’s elementary schools will hold their fairs in the coming weeks.


Badger Ridge Talent Show photos

Badger Ridge Middle School held its annual talent show Thursday, March 13, in the Ruth A. Heffron Gymnasium with two shows – one during school hours and one in the evening.

There were 21 acts in total with talents ranging from singing to dancing to show jumping.

The talent show also featured an art showcase of children’s work during the school year.

The student winners (not pictured) were Sydney Breitbach (6th grade), Morgan Hayes (7th grade) and Alexandria Conlin (8th grade).


New Century, Verona Area International have open spots left after Kindergarten deadline

New Century School and Verona Area International School both came up short of their 2014-15 kindergarten openings after the Verona Area School District extended the deadline for incoming parents to apply for spots.

After the original deadline of Feb. 14, NCS was at 11 spots for 21 openings, while VAIS had 16 applications for 22 openings. The district’s third charter, Core Knowledge, had 43 applicants for 40 openings.

The district then decided to extend the deadline to March 13 to give the schools a chance for further outreach. After the extension, NCS ended up with 14 applicants, with four new applications, along with one family reversing their one new applicant and one change-of-mind, leaving it at 16 applicants.


Stoner Prairie students tape principal to wall

Stoner Prairie Elementary School students had plenty of motivation to read all the books they could during “Read Across America Week.” As a reward, students were given duct tape in relation to how much they read, and they duct taped principal Mike Pisani to the cafeteria wall during lunchtime Monday, March 3. Once the stool under his feet was removed, Pisani tumbled off the wall.