LRHS: Now, a destination point

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Nearly three years ago, Ted Finn walked into a building that had been named as one of 10 persistently low-performing schools in Maine.

Today, Lake Region is a place where officials from other school systems want to visit and investigate an educational model that has resulted in improved test scores and a significant rise in graduation levels.

LRHS Principal Finn informed the SAD 61 School Board Monday night that based on the school’s jump in graduation rate from 79.2% in 2010 to 91% in 2011–12 — among the biggest one-year increases in Maine (the statewide rate is 85.3%) — a special visitor will be making a stop in Naples sometime over the next two weeks.

That guest will be Maine Department of Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen, who wants to see firsthand the changes made by LRHS in the spirit of 21st century learning practices, shifting to an “academy-based” model.

Finn praised the efforts of students and staff as the school has remade itself and is now attracting attention across the state. Last week, officials from Searsport toured LRHS, and the South Portland superintendent was expected on Tuesday.

“Other high schools have contacted us, as well,” Finn reported. The interest is in how Lake Region is “thinking outside of the box” when it comes to delivering its curriculum.

Back in November, Finn and Assistant Superintendent Deborah Howard presented results from the Maine High School Assessment.

Lake Region 11th graders were up 7 percentage points in reading and 12 percentage points in math.

In his weekly report to staff, Finn wrote, “Three years ago, our school was ranked 64 out of 114 public high schools. Two years ago, we went from 64 to 86 out of 114.  As of this year, Lake Region High School is ranked 37 of 110 (fewer schools due to consolidation). This is GREAT news for our school and community and you should all be VERY proud of this accomplishment. Congratulations!”

In other SAD 61 board notes,

Winter Carnival without a dance. Lake Region H.S. Principal Ted Finn has been “progressive” when installing the high school’s new 21st century learning approaches.

But, when it comes to dance moves, he admittedly is old-fashioned.

Finn explained to the school board that the annual dance connected with the Winter Carnival has been canceled this year because of students’ insistence to keep “grinding” as part of their dance moves.

Board member Cindy LeBlanc has been a chaperone at middle school dances, and understands the uneasy position Finn was placed in.

LeBlanc and other chaperones “felt extremely uncomfortable” when they had to approach students regarding inappropriate dance moves.

“I can’t believe what I’ve seen,” she shared with fellow directors.

Donations. Directors officially accepted $500 received from an anonymous donor to defray the cost of the all-Sebago Elementary School trip to Story Land; Two $150 grants awarded by Loon Echo Land Trust’s 2013 Environmental Education Grant Program to Sebago Elementary School (funds will be used for the Grade 3 Audubon Winter Walk and the Chewonki Bugmobile program); $50 Caring for Classrooms gift cards donated to two Sebago Elementary School teachers to purchase books for their classrooms; Thomas Conway gave a charitable $250 contribution to the Future Business Leaders of America to enable two students to participate in the upcoming 2013 state conference and competitions.

Personnel. Madelyn Litz transferred from an Adult Education career counselor to a student services coordinator at Lake Region Vocational Center for the remainder of the school year; Jamel Torres resigned as an in-school suspension monitor at Lake Region High School, effective Feb. 21; Sarah Champoli transferred from a day treatment support technician at Songo Locks School to another position, to be determined by the Director of Special Services.



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