Monday, September 8, 2014

Off the Ground and Wheels Up!

 First Week of School: Last week was our first week of school with students. I thought that it went very well considering the heat wave we had and the usual glitches that we face when starting up the organization again after a couple of months off. My hats go off to our transportation department, food service workers, technology department, and buildings and grounds crews for helping us to get back to near full strength in just a few short days. By the end of next week, I expect everything to be up and running as it will for the rest of the school year.

Last Friday night was an example of how a great community looks and acts. At our opening football game we hosted approximately 2,000 community members at our turf stadium. The football players did a great job on the field, our cheerleaders kept everyone pumped up, our Wildcat Nation provided the positive chants, and the Marching Band wowed us as usual with their half-time show. Throw in the Pop Warner football youngsters, and I would call that a pretty great night!

Meeting the New Kindergartners: Last week I also had a chance to meet all of our new kindergarten students. What a blast! All were very polite, some wondered if I was a medical doctor, and they all were wide-eyed and anxious to learn. Visiting all of them for the first time is one of the highlights of my job. When I visit them again this week, they will be in mid-year form; they adjust better than we do!

Summer School Wrap-Up: We also had a great ending to our summer school session. People think that summer school is just for students who did not do well during the school year. False. We have students who take classes to catch up in order to graduate, and we also had students who use summer school to get ahead so they could take even more classes this school year.

All in all we learned that our final completion rate is just under 92%. The completion rate should not be confused with the Regents graduation rate (which is 99% for our District). The completion rate includes EVERY child who walks through the doors of West Genesee. The latest New York State completion rate is 74%.

Why are we not at 100%? Good question, as that is obviously the goal. That 8%, or roughly 31 students are students who have dropped out, attended even one day at West Genesee and then transferred to another school and not completed, fallen behind their class due to family issues, health issues, or have obtained an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, completion certificate (I lobby New York State every year for IEP diplomas to count by the way).

We are working with our students who have dropped out to see if there is anything we can do or offer to entice them to return to school to complete their high school experience. We are making strides. Our completion rate when I arrived in 2008 was 86%.

Enjoy the week!