Sugar Creek shows photos

Students at Sugar Creek Elementary School put their art skills on display Thursday, April 3, as part of the school’s annual art show. Last year, the show involved hands-on projects students worked out during the show, while this year’s was more of a display of what the students had worked on throughout the year. Students also showed off their scientific and writing skills Friday, April 11 at the school’s annual science and author fairs.


Verona students take 5th at science competition

Photo submitted. The team members competing at the state competition are seniors Aylise Grossenbacher-McGlamery, Becky Schultz, Jacob Fauble, Johnny Yan, Jules Cruz, Karen Wong, Kelli Krueger, Molly Jennerman; sophomores Brooke Felsheim, Claire Evensen, Ian Birschbach, Katie Fan, Natalie Schad; and freshmen Alankrit Shatadal, Claire Wilson, Jacob Wellnitz, James Wellnitz and Noa Seward.

Students from Verona Area High School took fifth place in the state Science Olympiad contest held earlier this month.

High school teams from throughout Wisconsin gathered for the Wisconsin Science Olympiad competition held on Saturday, April 5, on the UW-Stout Campus.

Two teams from Verona Area High School qualified and were among the teams competing.

Their preparation for the state competition began in September and they competed at an invitational meet and a regional competition leading up to the state tournament.

The first team placed fifth this year out of the 44 qualifying teams at the meet and the second team placed fifth among the 16 exhibition teams.


VAHS celebrates ‘Bright Lights’ for prom week

Photo submitted. Back row (from left): Kye Hanson, Dakin Coons, Jacob Toman, and Jack Ludwig. Front row (from left): Christian Gross, Conlin Bass, Clariel Kramer, Brenden Zarrinnam, Samantha Seymour, Ogiuzo Ifediora, Caroline Snodgrass, Erin Lacy, Claire VanFossen; Not pictured: Ebony Nettles-Bay.

Verona Area High School students will celebrate with a “Bright Lights, Big City”-themed prom April 26 at the Alliant Energy Center. The dance will be from 8 to 11 p.m., with a grand march at 8:30 p.m. Parents may attend the grand march for $3 per person. Tickets for students are $15 for the dance or $25 for both the dance and post-prom, which will be from midnight to 3 a.m. at VAHS.


Report: Website, crisis outreach need improvement

Photo by Scott Girard. Verona schools have already begun sending text messages to families automatically, but the audit suggests adding mobile apps, too.

As the Internet has expanded to Twitter and Facebook in the last decade, it’s become easier for companies to directly reach their consumers, bypassing the middleman of advertising or news outlets.

But many public school systems haven’t been taking advantage of the same ability, including Verona.

That was one of the main messages from a communications audit for the Verona Area School District done by David Voss of Voss and Associates, a professional communications company.

“You can no longer spray and pray,” Voss told the board at its April 7 meeting, referring to the practice of throwing loads of information out and hoping something will stick with interested parties. “If your audiences are demanding more … you have to communicate strategically.”


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.