SAD 61 notes: LRVC looks at new ways to connect kids with real world option

SHOWING THEIR SKILLS - Lake Region Vocational Center students recently attended the annual Skills USA competition held in Bangor. Those attending the statewide competition included: (front, left to right) Adanica Keene, Kathrine Jolley, Zachary Horne, Emily Tugaw, Emily Rowe, Kyla Lavoie, Shayla Cummings and Emmalee Kimball; (back row) Trevor Boody, Christopher Harriman, Raymond Chesley, Garrett Libby, Jeremy Brown, Kristofer McClure, Keagon Leighton, Christopher DelVecchio (ducking), John Horne, Jordan Magiera, Cameron Jackson, Alisha Greene, Francis Mirante, Dessiree Berry, Kayley Buckley, Kyleigh Rose and Samantha Berard. Missing from the photo were Curtis Andrews, Steven Grondell, David Jordan and Gabrielle Hazelton.

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

David Morse likes to try new approaches and new ideas.

When he took over as new director of Lake Region Vocational Center, Morse asked Student Services Coordinator Walt Ridlon whether past college, job and career fairs were successful?

The events received mixed reviews.

So, Morse considered a different way to do it. LRVC has taken a “targeted approach” of exposing students to job opportunities in today’s workforce, as well as “opening their eyes” to career possibilities that they do not realize exist, Morse explained to the SAD 61 Board of Directors at last week’s meeting held in the LRVC Great Room.

One new idea was a Totally Trades Day. LRVC extended invites to Sargent Corp., Cianbro and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to send a representative to meet with automotive and construction students.

The result — a few career doors opened.

One student, who admittedly had no real plan for his future, interviewed with Sargent Corp., and has applied for a position. Morse read a text message the student sent to Ridlon to the school board.

“I really want to get in. I wasn’t sure college was for me. I wouldn’t have known about this possibility if it wasn’t for you putting together the Totally Trades Day…Other guys are looking into other things that the presenters said. I can’t wait,” the student wrote. “I’m going to get trained in heavy equipment, get paid well and be guaranteed a job after six weeks…By age 20, I am going to build my own house. I have some land promised to me. I will use my heavy equipment training to do the excavation work and then build my house with stuff I’ve learned being in the construction program for two years. You’ve helped me so much. I was worried about things after graduation, but now I have a plan because of you.”

“Now to me, that’s powerful,” Morse said.

Another student, who is enrolled in the LRVC construction program, plans to attend welding school so he can work at Cianbro.

Another student plans to visit Portsmouth Naval Shipyard after his meeting with a company official.

“One event, three possible hires,” Morse said. “We talk about keeping students in our state. This is exciting to me.”

Another event was “Play Day with Big Toys.” LRVC invited Chadwick and Grondin, excavation companies which brought some heavy equipment to the school and gave students a chance to see how it works. The result — one apprenticeship during April vacation while three could be working for Grondin this summer.

Another “targeted” get together involved Sabre Yachts of Raymond. Construction trade students met with Sabre Yachts officials and discovered the company has a “number of jobs there you wouldn’t think about,” Morse noted. Three juniors, on their own, completed applications.

Morse said LRVC is also actively seeking internships. One automotive student met with Alternative Heat Sources of Naples. The student is not interested in becoming a mechanic, but could apply his skills to analyze and repair pellet stoves.

Morse added that LRVC is planning to hold Medical Care 101, giving health occupations students a chance to meet with representatives from Central Maine Health Care, Gorham House and the Maine Veterans Home.

“These students, who were uncertain about their futures, are now taking their classes more seriously because they want to make sure they graduate so they can get into those jobs,” said Morse regarding changes in students’ attitudes following the meetings with companies. “We’re seeing improvement right off. Students’ eyes are opening to other options. If I am in automotives, it doesn’t mean I have to be a mechanic. If I am in construction, it doesn’t mean I need to be a carpenter. There are other things. They are starting to realize that…It hits the crux of what education is all about.”

In other school notes:

New look LRMS honor roll. In the new educational world where students no longer receive As, Bs, Cs, Ds and Fs but instead whether or not they have achieved proficiency in a certain subject area or learning skill, one question remained, “Would there be honor rolls?”

Lake Region Middle School Principal Matt Lokken recently rolled out the school’s first Honor Roll under the new system. That list was published in The News last week.

“We calculated an honor roll for first time since I’ve been here under parameters of proficiency-based learning,” Lokken told the school board. “We chose to qualify honors as being proficient in all performance standards that kids are assessed on. High honors (is based on) proficiency in all content areas and at least one exceeding proficiency or advanced proficiency.”

Here’s how the first honor roll unfolded:

Grade 6, 40 kids achieved high honors (28%);

Grade 7, 38 kids or 21.2%;

Grade 8, 44 kids or 31.1%;

Total on honor roll for Semester 1 was 120 or 26.7% of LRMS population.

Lokken pointed out that LRMS will do MEA testing on March 27. This will be the third year with same testing method, which will give school officials a chance to ascertain “clear trends.” To prepare students for the state test, LRMS has weaved MEA prep examples (samples provided by Maine’s Department of Education) into regular class curriculum.

Lokken and staff have also been working with student groups to identify positive incentives or motivators to take the MEA test serious and with focus that students might enjoy or value.

Making up snow days. With SAD 61 over the limit in regards to snow days, the district will look to make up time lost due to cancellations by tacking an hour onto the day on Wednesdays over the next five weeks.

While elementary schools will fill that extra hour slot with additional work in math, science and writing, the middle school will add a “block” mixed with additional MEA prep, math, writing, instruction as well as activities (yoga, walking, enrichment) along the more social education.

The high school will extend all class periods by 15 minutes —90 minutes instead of 75.

“It works well with the vocational center schedule,” LRHS Principal Erik Good said.

LRVC will have some students who are behind in their studies hook up with “guided” studies led by subject “experts.” Or, students can continue on with their educational program at the tail end of the day, such as working on a vehicle, they can keep on working on it or if they are in baking, they can keep on baking.

Showing their Skills: Twenty-nine students from the Lake Region Vocational Center recently embarked on a trip to Bangor to participate in the annual Skills USA State Leadership Conference and Competitions.  This event allowed over 800 students from the 27 technology schools around the state to participate in one of over 70 individual and team trade and skills competitions. These contests involved a variety of written knowledge tests, interviews and hands-on skill events.

Once again, LRVC students represented the region very well with their hard work, professionalism and competitive spirit. A good number of LRVC students returned home with medals to reward their efforts, reporterd LRVC Director David Morse.

Bronze medalists included:  Jeremy Brown – Carpentry Knowledge Test; Kyleigh Rose – Commercial Baking; and the team of Curtis Andrews, Steven Grondell and Gabrielle Hazelton – Career Pathways.

Silver medalists this year included:  Garrett Libby – Cabinetmaking; and the team of Adanica Keene, Emmalee Kimball and Kyla Lavoie – Chapter Display.

Two students won Gold medals in their competitions – Dessiree Berry for Health Occupations Professional Portfolio, and Kristopher McClure for Job Skill Demonstration. Gold medalists earn the ability to travel to Louisville, Kentucky to participate in the national competitions in June.

“It’s very difficult to win a medal,” Morse said. “The kids were very respectful and they represented the region, the district, the school and themselves very well. I am very proud of the whole crew.”

Morse said the Skills USA organization helps students develop leadership, teamwork and professional skills that will be used throughout their lives. Self-confidence building and development of strong character qualities are emphasized through the organization, as well.

Congratulations to all of LRVC winners!

Time to rethink proficiency-based learning? Holding a copy of the Maine Sunday Telegram, Casco Director Phil Shane cited a story that state education officials could radically restructure Maine’s proficiency-based diploma law. Shane has questioned whether all students will be able to reach what might be lofty educational standards. He is concerned what happens to those who fail?

The law was the first in the nation when passed as part of Gov. Paul LePage’s education reform in 2012.

The article noted that if the proposal passes, high school students would no longer have to show proficiency in eight learning areas (described in the Maine Learning Results) to earn a diploma.

Those eight learning areas for 12th graders include:

• Career and education development: Having the knowledge, skills and behaviors to interact with others, set goals and make career, college and citizenship decisions.

• English language arts: …Literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects so students can read, write, speak, listen and use language effectively.

• Health education: Knowledge of basic health concepts, and the skills required to adopt and maintain healthy and safe behaviors.

• Math: Knowledge of algebra, functions, modeling and statistics and probability, with the ability to transform algebraic expressions, explain equations, verbal descriptions, tables with graphs or draw diagrams of important features.

• Science and technology: Learning based on themes of systems, models, constancy and change, and scale. Understand the universal nature of matter, energy, force and motion, and identify how the relationships are exhibited in earth systems, the solar system and the universe. Understand that cells are the basic unit of life, that all life has evolved through genetic transfer and natural selection to create a great diversity of organisms.

• Social Studies: Knowledge of civics and government, economics, geography and history, including a balanced exposure to the major eras of United States and world history.

• Visual and performing arts: Meet proficiency in one or more of the visual and performing arts disciplines: dance, music, theater and visual arts.

• World Languages: Students express their own thoughts and opinions about familiar topics and elicit the thoughts and opinions of others by using sentences and/or short paragraphs in at least one language other than English.

School systems decide how to measure proficiency.

Shane specifically pointed to a quote in the story by Diana Doiron, Maine’s Department of Education proficiency-based education specialist. She said, “Don’t think that we don’t want all of our kids to reach their personal best and exit (high school) ready. Where we struggle is that we’re dealing with human beings and no two human beings are alike…It’s a struggle to set a bar and say everyone is going to get there by the time they graduate out of high school.”

Shane wholeheartedly agrees. His view, “It’s a mess. Not all students can do it…None of us got our whole education in school…Life is education.”

Lake Region H.S. is in the process of moving to a proficiency-based learning system. Superintendent of Schools Al Smith admitted the district is tackling some challenges and issues.

“Administrators are reviewing pieces that aren’t working and are communicating what the issues are,” Smith said. “We’re taking a step back before moving forward again. You’ll see some changes.”

Lake Region H.S. Principal Erik Good told directors that as part of the change to proficiency-based learning, he and staff are looking at classroom practices and teaching framework.

At a recent late arrival day session, he and teachers considered a set of questions including what needs to happen if they sense students are “tuning out” because they are unable to grasp a concept or skill; how long until teachers check to see if a student is making progress; how long can a student maintain focus on one activity until his or her mind starts to wander?

“This was the most in-depth, engaged discussion we have had since I have been here, and will lead to some great things down the road,” Good said.

What students think has also been brought into the proficiency-based learning discussion. Good has met with Student Council members on Thursdays. They have discussed results from a student survey, which included what they would like to see from an instructional standpoint and developed four focus areas:

  • Paying attention to offering more classes with a lot of interest;
  • Making sure what is being done in class has direct ties to what students will need to do in the future (direct skills);
  • Ways teachers can communicate “clearer” to everyone;
  • Building respect “all the way around.”

Good has asked students to prepare examples and suggestions regarding the focus areas to be considered during teacher sessions.

Before Good returned to his seat in the audience, Director Shane complimented the principal on his “great cartwheel” on the Cross Center basketball court during a timeout of the Lady Lakers state championship game in Bangor. Good said a MPA official didn’t share Shane’s opinion, informing the principal not to go onto the court again that Friday night.

“I did it for the girls!” Good said.

Laker Pride recipients. Three to four times each school year, the Great Room at LRVC is filled to capacity as students and staff are recognized for their good deeds and achievements as recipients of Laker Pride awards. Two weeks ago, the second round of honors occurred as T-shirts and certificates were presented by school principals. Honorees included:

Sebago Elementary ­— Jordan Hale, kindergarten, nominated by Mrs. Bennett; Abigale DeJoseph, Grade 1, nominated by Kathy Harmon; Titus Therriault, Grade 2, nominated by Kathy Harmon and Randa Viitala; Lily Smith, Grade 3, nominated by Mr. Bridge-Koenigsberg and Anita Quinlan; Ronan Davis, Grade 4, nominated by Anita Quinlan; Gage Linscott, Grade 5, nominated by Ms. Palmer; Shelly Willey, staff member, nominated by Mrs. Harmon, Ms. Palmer and Mrs. Viitala.

Songo Locks School — Skylar Brown, kindergarten, nominated by Devin Fitzgerald; Micaiah Cole, Grade 1, nominated by Deborah Farrar; Mylee Grant, Grade 2, nominated by Jean Martin; Everett Horning, Grade 3, nominated by Kimberly Nielsen; Abigail Manchester, Grade 4, nominated by Amy Saunders; Dallas Armstrong, Grade 5, nominated by Vicky Edwards; Ellen Berry, staff member, nominated by Melissa Arbour.

Stevens Brook Elementary — Araia Peterson, kindergarten, nominated by Tom Letourneau; Madison Nelson, Grade 1, nominated by Ms. Abramowitz; Mikaela Allen, Grade 2, nominated by Debra Roy; Madeline St. Cyr, Grade 3, nominated by Miranda Walker; Killian Chute, Grade 4, nominated by Laura Varney; Quinn Macdonald, Grade 5, nominated by Allison Sands; Luke Hadley, staff member, nominated by Teairra Reum.

Lake Region Middle School — Sadie Plummer, Grade 6, nominated by Kris Foley; Nolan Burton, Grade 6, nominated by Team Kibby; Caitlin Lees, Grade 7, nominated by Team Kineo; Jacob Smith, Grade 8, nominated by Team Sugarloaf; Michael Ross, Grade 8, nominated by Team Katahdin; Gail White and Jim Thombs, staff members, nominated by Principal Matt Lokken and Michelle Brann.

Lake Region High School — Jay Brant, Grade 9, nominated by Christina Metcalf; Brandon Beadnell, Grade 9, nominated by Bruce Hilton; Alexia Merrill, Grade 10, nominated by Andrea Dacko; Samuel Cowan, Grade 11, nominated by Sasha Kantro; Sonya Waligora, Grade 11, nominated by Ian Carlson; Theodore Snow, Grade 12, nominated by Ann Bragdon; Jamie Riel, staff member, nominated by Barbara Collins.

Lake Region Vocational Center — Sandy Arris, staff member, nominated by LRVC staff.

Transportation, Facilities, Food Service — Shelly Watson, staff member, nominated by Kathy Wentworth.

Adult Education — Rhonda Jacobson, staff member, nominated by Director Madelyn Litz.

 

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