Pick a style

Photos by Scott Girard. Alina Stiller, left, is surprised when she and Livia Bakken get a propeller to spin during a unit on circuits at New Century School. The unit is an example of the project-based learning the school uses that teachers say fits with the district’s push to personalize learning.

Students at the Verona Area School District’s three charter elementary schools aren’t there by accident.

Parents must specifically choose to send their children to those schools, and that offers a bit of personalization from the beginning of their education, given the different styles of the schools.

While each school has certain guidelines it must follow because of its charter agreement with the district, there are ways to incorporate personalized learning into those, Core Knowledge Charter School director Brett Stousland said.

“There’s a few things that we have to be true to because we’re a charter school, but we see the value in the voice and choice,” Stousland said.


Officials answer questions in Fitchburg

Photo by Scott Girard. Fitchburg residents Michelle Gigot and Mike Thorson talk with Verona Area School Board president Dennis Beres. Gigot remained opposed to the referendum after the meeting, while Thorson came in opposed but changed his mind after talking with Beres.

Fitchburg resident Mike Thorson had many questions Monday about the Verona Area School District’s referendum.

Thorson was among six people who attended the district’s information night Monday at the Fitchburg Public Library. Although he came in against the referendum, school board president Dennis Beres’ answers during their hourlong conversation were apparently satisfactory.

“I came in biased against (the land purchase), and, after a fairly lengthy discussion with Dennis, I support it and find it a fairly elegant solution,” Thorson told the Press as he left the meeting. 

The other five, who spoke with superintendent Dean Gorrell and public information officer Kelly Kloepping, were not as convinced.

Three told the Press they remained undecided, while the other two said they were opposed.


Glacier Edge Science Fair photos

Glacier Edge Elementary School students showed off their hard work Thursday, March 19, at the school’s science and author fair. GE teachers walked around the experiments and talked with the students about what they’d done before handing them a certificate and medal.


VAEF awards $3K in grants to 12 teachers

The Verona Area Education Foundation recently awarded nearly $3,000 in grants to elementary school teachers in the Verona Area School District.

VAEF, which got new leadership last year as Nick Curran took over the role of president of the non-profit, holds fundraising efforts each year to cover the grants it gives. It was first incorporated in February 1992.

The largest grant went to Glacier Edge Elementary School teachers Cinda Quinn and Jennifer Krantz, who received $478.44 for a force and motion project with the Next Generation Science Standards.

Other projects that received grants included a pair of third-grade reading projects, a drum club, cooking project and bilingual project.


VASD student artist reception photos

The Verona Area School District hosted a student artists’ reception Thursday, March 12, for student artists who have their art on display this month at the Verona Area High School’s Sugar River Gallery. Students showed off their sculptures, paintings and designs to family and friends. The gallery will have the students’ work on display through March 27. 


Open enrollment requests more than double spots

Halfway through the open enrollment period, the Verona Area School District has already received twice as many requests as it has available spots. 

VASD has been a popular destination for families applying for open enrollment in recent years, but in the past couple has had to sharply curtail the number of spots it opens because of tightening space in schools as the district’s own student population grows.

Since the open enrollment period began Feb. 2, 180 students have applied to come to VASD schools, while 43 VASD residents have applied to open enroll out, according to data released at a school board meeting Monday night. Of the 43 asking to open enroll out, only nine are attending VASD schools, superintendent Dean Gorrell said.


CKCS pilots ‘Wildcat Cup’ lunch option

Photo by Scott Girard. Students grab Wildcat Cups from the lunch selection Tuesday morning at Core Knowledge Charter School. The cups have two options, one with yogurt, granola and fruit and the other with cheese cubes, crackers and fruit.

Yogurt, fruit and granola versus cheese pizza. 

That was the choice elementary students at Core Knowledge Charter School got for their main lunch course earlier this month. The yogurt, fruit and granola was an alternative option as part of the “Wildcat Cup” pilot program the district’s Child Nutrition Services Department is trying out this year.

Director of child nutrition services Cindra Magli said the cup idea came about when officials noticed less participation in the district’s lunch program at the elementary level and wanted to offer an additional option for students like they do at the middle and high school levels.


State budget would cut aid, change tests

School administrators around the state have spoken out against Gov. Scott Walker’s 2015-17 budget proposal.

That includes officials in the Verona Area School District, who drafted a letter to Walker and other legislators outlining their problems with some proposals, including a large cut to state funding and new limits on revenue caps that local school boards can set.

While a cut to the expected increase in per-student funding and revenue caps would likely have the greatest effect on the day-to-day operations of the district and on residents’ property taxes, that’s not the only major change possibly ahead.


Stoner Prairie, CKCS science fair photos

Stoner Prairie Elementary School and Core Knowledge Charter School each held a science fair Friday, March 6. The Stoner Prairie fair featured both student-made projects and demonstrations from outside the school. Core Knowledge Charter School students showed off months of work Friday, March 6, at the school’s annual science fair. Students had their projects evaluated by judges, which included recent Amazing Race winners and UW-Madison graduate students Amy DeJong and Maya Warren.


Parents bring back NCS diversity committee

Photo by Scott Girard. Yorel Lashley, left, leads students JJ Jakowski, Margaret McManus, Lili Kohl and Kazaria Hampton on the drums at the Feb. 16 Africa day event.

A group of parents at New Century School is trying to make sure their children are ready for the vast array of people and cultures they’ll encounter in the world.

At the district’s second-smallest school, racial diversity isn’t always reflected in the student body, with just 19 of 120 students being non-white, according to January enrollment numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Changing that and educating all 120 students about what’s out there are the NCS Diversity and Equity Committee’s two priorities, said parent Marti Fechner, who was instrumental in bringing the group back after it was discontinued a few years ago.