Summer projects, a blog and the school newspaper are all part of the unique experience for students enrolled in London Middle School’s accelerated language arts and reading program.
At the Jan. 14 London City Schools board of education meeting, five eighth-grade students outlined the program’s highlights in a PowerPoint presentation.
Sarah Dunham, Eli Gladman, Kasey King, Loren Rodgers and Sam Spahn explained that they were informed at the end of their seventh-grade year that they had been selected to participate in the program.
Their work began right away with summer assignments that included read-ing and writing about two books by Mitch Albom, “Tuesdays With Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” The students grappled with the book’s themes, which deal with major life issues.
When school started, so did the program’s blog. Students post writing projects on the blog and comments on one another’s work. The blog can be read by anyone, but only participants in the accelerated program can post content.
“The blog also is a new way to com-municate with parents,” said teacher Justin Emrich. By reading papers and comments on the blog, parents get a feel for what is going on in the classroom.
Students in the program also work on the school newspaper, “The Walnut Street Journal.” After two months of guidance from Emrich at the start of the school year, the newspaper staff is on their own to come up with story ideas and assign them.
The Walnut Street Journal comes out once a month and includes 25 to 30 articles on four pages plus a two-page insert from the sixth-grade building. Archived issues of the paper can be viewed at www.mremrichswebpage.com.
Emrich explained that students are chosen to participate in the accelerated language arts and reading program based on their academic performance in seventh grade and on the Ohio Achievement Test.
The program is designed to have 25 students per class. This year, Emrich has 28. Middle School Principal Mark Elliott said 35 to 40 students are recommended by teachers to participate. They are then ranked, and as openings come along, students on the waiting list are rotated in.
“Our goal is to have more than one section (of the accelerated language arts and reading program),” Emrich said.
The board also heard from Matthew Colvin, president of the middle school’s National Junior Honor Society. Fifteen eighth-graders were inducted last year, the Society’s first year of existence. New inductees will be announced this spring. They are chosen based on their academic achievements and leadership skills in and out of the classroom.
Colvin reported that the group raised $700 in a teacher auction to purchase toys for children at Christmas. They also are planning “Inspiring Your Heart with Art” and Valentine-grams fundraisers.
During the business portion of the Jan. 14 meeting, the school board asked Superintendent Steve Allen to continue to collect resumés and letters of interest for the last vacant seat on the London Academy board. The cut-off date to submit information to Allen is Jan. 31.
Changes were made to district policy to meet a state mandate that regular volunteers get not only a records check by the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, but also by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The board also heard first reading on a state-mandated change to its bullying and aggressive behavior policy that involves harassment via e-mail and other electronic means.
The board approved supplemental coaching contracts for high school spring sports: Kelly Nelson, varsity softball; Amanda Kimbler, reserve softball; Steve Hodge, assistant varsity softball; Noland Sadler, head varsity baseball; James Wolverton, assistant varsity baseball; Kevin Horne, head varsity boys’ track; Kevin Caserta, assistant varsity boys’ track; Joe Watson, reserve baseball; and winter and spring strength training, Bill Dennis. R. Spencer Gibson resigned as London Middle School football coach.
Prior to the regular meeting, the board held its annual reorganization meeting, at which Nancy Smith was elected president and Curtis Brooks was elected vice president.
All of the board members retained their committee appointments for another year: Tolles Career and Technical Board, Brooks; London Community Foundation Board, Smith; tax abatements, Eric Schooley; London City Schools Foundation Board, Smith and Melissa Canney; London City Schools Business Advisory Council, Canney and Vici Geer; London Academy liaisons, Schooley and Brooks; Central Madison Joint Recreational District, Smith; student achievement, Geer; and communications, Geer and Smith. Brooks noted that he was elected as president of the Tolles board for 2008.
The board certified the district’s student enrollment at 2,159 for the purpose of establishing the board’s service fund.
Additionally, the board approved its regular meeting schedule. They will continue to meet at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of each month in the high school lecture hall. The dates for 2008 are: Feb. 18, March 17, April 21, May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18, Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov. 17 and Dec. 15.