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Reflection and Graduation

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Reflection and Graduation Planning for the Future While Reviewing the Past - By Jennifer Olson

L-R: James Woodfork – Gardner Magnet, Max Wernette – ASMSA, Serenity Putman – Mountain Pine, Riley Orr – Lakeside, Pierce Piatt – Lake Hamilton, Skylar Hitchens – Fountain Lake, Jacob Barrett – Cutter, Dawson Lawhon – Jessieville
Photo Courtesy Viva Rose Photography

Planning for the Future While Reviewing the Past –  By Jennifer Olson

The end of another academic year is quickly approaching area schools. As ever-changing and fluid as the educational system tends to be, local institutions reflect upon some of the highlights of 2014-2015 school year.

Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts

Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts

Arkansas School for Math and Sciences and the Arts

ASMSA has seen continual growth and achievement in 2014-2015. The institution has taken substantive steps toward realizing their legislative Arts mission this year through the introduction of the school’s first full-time studio and visual art faculty member. Having Brad Wreyford on staff allowed ASMSA to double the art courses while also offering a variety of art classes for college credit through a partnership with UALR. ASMSA continues to see improvement in ACT scores. The Class of 2015’s average composite is 29.8, the highest in the school’s history. The incoming Class of 2017 shows incredible potential with an average entry ACT of over 27, a full point gain over recent classes of students. In partnership with Lakeside High School and the Hot Springs Sister City Foundation, ASMSA will add instruction in Japanese language and culture to the Global Languages and Shared Societies (GLASS) Initiative. No other Arkansas high schools offer Japanese instruction locally. ASMSA is the only high school to include computer science coursework as part of graduation requirements. They are working with districts and other partners to help offer the new Essentials of Computer Programming course this fall. ASMSA continues to receive national attention for the quality of its programs. In August 2014, The Daily Beast ranked ASMSA as 10th nationally, 5th in the South, and 1st in Arkansas in their annual survey of “America’s Top High Schools.” In April 2015, The Washington Post named ASMSA to its “Public Elite” high schools, a list of 26 of the nation’s most challenging schools serving high-ability students. Thanks to grants, ASMSA will complete the Maker Space and Innovation Lab this summer. This model classroom will serve as a showcase for applied technology, innovative tools and engaged learning. ASMSA students, faculty and support staff are committed to excellence. They believe in the capacity of their community of learning to make continual improvements on an already stellar program.

Cutter Morning Star - Class of 2015 / Reflection and Graduation  Planning for the Future While Reviewing the Past -  By Jennifer Olson

Cutter Morning Star – Class of 2015

Cutter Morning Star School District
Cutter Morning Star had a busy school year in 2014- 2015. The district showed a marked increase in technology, purchasing a number of iPads, laptops, tablets and other devices, adding new computer labs in both the elementary and high school, and two drones. Building updates and remodels are ongoing throughout the district. In August, new playground equipment was installed and it was enclosed with new fencing in March. Plans are in motion to pave or resurface some of the parking lots and district roads. Several new and exciting courses are on the horizon for the 2015-2016 school year. A few of the new classes being offered to students include a new robotics program based on the STEM initiative, and a computer coding class. The district also plans to open a new Virtual Arkansas lab with numerous course offerings, add more concurrent credit classes, and add more Pre-AP and AP classes. The opportunity to earn a Hospitality/Tourism Certificate is also in the works for Cutter Morning Star high school students. The 2014-2015 academic year proved to be a stellar one for both faculty and students in the district. Mrs. Hopper and Mrs. Byrd were awarded the Governor Conservation Achievement Award. Three students were selected to attend the Girls of Promise Conference. They were the only students selected from Garland County. The school’s 6th, 7th, and 8th grade chess teams have done well at multiple chess tournaments. The Junior High Quiz Bowl team took 2nd place in the Regional Tournament, and went on to place 8th at State in February. Professional singer and song writer, Shannon Wurst, worked with CMS students to write lyrics and compose a song. The group performance was videotaped, and aligned with Common Core standards. Cutter Morning Star, the small school with the big heart, believes the district’s greatest strength is its teachers and staff.

Fountain Lake - Class of 2015 / Reflection and Graduation  Planning for the Future While Reviewing the Past -  By Jennifer Olson

Fountain Lake – Class of 2015

Fountain Lake School District
The Fountain Lake School District has enjoyed a great 2014-2015 school year. Many exciting changes have taken place on campus and will continue into the future. The new Cobra Digital Prep Academy accomplished a successful year. Approval was gained for the Fountain Lake High School to begin the 2015-2016 school year as a Conversion Charter School. Emphasis will be placed on student participation in career-focused programs of study. New programs of study include Integrated Production Technologies, Informatics, Horticulture/Plant Science, and Dietetics. The high school Media Center will become home to a large Maker Space. The Arkansas Department of Education released the School Report Card scores. Fountain Lake High School was awarded the grade of an “A,” and the Elementary and Middle School both earned a “B.” Other awards were granted to the district as well. Fountain Lake Elementary finished first in the Central Arkansas region for Benchmark math scores. Fountain High School received an award from the University of Arkansas, in reference to student Algebra scores. The accolade honors “Beating the Odds-High Achieving Schools Serving Low-Income Communities.” The Fountain Lake School District believes the teachers, staff, and parental support are their greatest strengths. Over the past few years, the school has recommitted their efforts to meeting the individual needs of all students. For every student to have success, a plan must be designed individually, and the school is committed to doing just that. Together, the community strives for a successful Fountain Lake future.

Gospel Light Christian School
Gospel Light experienced a year of growth in 2014-2015. The school increased the available sports in the current athletic program, increased student enrollment, installed a new security system for the main entrance, updated the computer lab with additional computers, and renovated several high school bathrooms. Gospel Light athletes stood out this year on the basketball court. The Varsity basketball team placed second in the AACS State Tournament. Three players won All-District, All-State, and All-Tourney in the AACS basketball league. Plans are currently in the works for building upgrades over the summer. Renovations and additions will be made to the school offices and playground, as well as new roofing systems for both the school and gymnasium. Looking forward to the 2015-2016 school year, Gospel Light will be offering a Spanish class for elementary students and starting an ACT preparatory class. The private school is also adding a girls’ basketball team. In addition to preparing students academically and morally for life, Gospel Light also believes that in their smaller private school community, they are developing life-long relationships with families as they care for and nurture their students, and lead the next generation successfully.

Henderson State University
Henderson’s unique programs include Arkansas’s only four-year aviation program and the only four-year professional nursing program in the southwest region of the state. Aviation students train on Henderson’s 16-plane fleet and on state of-the-art flight simulators. High school students in Arkadelphia and Hot Springs can begin taking classes in 10th grade through Henderson’s distance learning aviation program. When these students enroll at Henderson, they will already have the credits required their freshman year. Nursing students learn patient-care skills by practicing on high-tech simulator mannequins before entering instructor-guided clinical experiences. Henderson recently introduced new undergraduate degree programs in innovative media arts, engineering physics, and criminal justice, and new master’s degree programs in school counseling, special education, and teaching English in the two-year college. Several graduate degrees in education are now offered completely online. Henderson offers upper level undergraduate and graduate courses in business and education at the Landmark Building in downtown Hot Springs. The university’s partnership with National Park Community College makes it possible for students to turn a two-year degree in either of these fields into a four-year degree without leaving town. Graduate classes in business and education are also offered in Hot Springs. The university recently completed renovations to the Garrison Student Center, which includes Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks restaurants and a grand ball room. The 20,000-square foot Henderson Dining Hall won a Bronze Award for design at the American Society of Interior Designers South Central Chapter Awards Gala in 2014. The university recently purchased the Whispering Oaks apartment complex, and two new residence halls on campus are expected to open in fall 2015. The Hot Springs education center, opened in spring 2015, features a computer lab, seminar rooms, classrooms and faculty offices.

Hot Springs High School - Class of 2015 / Reflection and Graduation Planning for the Future While Reviewing the Past - By Jennifer Olson

Hot Springs High School – Class of 2015
Photo Courtesy BW Studios

Hot Springs School District
The 2014-2015 year has seen many accomplishments for the Hot Springs School District. The district is proud to have received continued accreditation from AdvancED through 2019, a strenuous reaccreditation process focusing on school improvement. Hot Springs Middle School implemented a Model Technology classroom providing students with a true 21st century classroom for learning. Oaklawn, Langston, and Park Magnet elementary schools were recognized as ADE “Achieving Schools,” with Park being named the top elementary school for the second consecutive year. The implementation of the High School Freshman Academy as an extra means of focusing on a strong academic foundation for 9th graders enhanced the Hot Springs Area Community Foundation grant partnership to continue Camp Troy, a summer orientation program that provides peer mentors. Hot Springs is excited to be adding the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP) to the high school. This will provide 11th and 12th grade students an opportunity to continue the IB Programme through a career field of their choosing. The high school will be partnering with NPCC to provide students an opportunity to earn additional concurrent college credit. Several outstanding faculty members from the district were recognized during the year. Marlo Mitchell, Summit Math Teacher, won the Arkansas ALE Teacher of the Year award. Commander Jeffrey King, HSHS NJROTC Commander, won the VFW Department of Arkansas Teacher of the Year award. Dawn Anderson, Oaklawn Counselor, won the Southwest Arkansas Counselor of the Year award. The HSHS girls’ basketball team won the 5A State Championship, proving academics and athletics are thriving at Hot Springs School District. The vision of the Hot Springs School District is to graduate all students college and career ready to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world; their many accomplishments this year are fulfilling that vision.

Jessieville - Class of 2015 / Reflection and Graduation  Planning for the Future While Reviewing the Past -  By Jennifer Olson

Jessieville – Class of 2015

Jessieville School District
The Jessieville School District has worked hard all school year to continually improve the educational atmosphere for all students. The results of those efforts are evident as this year comes to a close. Jessieville High School achieved a “B” rating on the most recent school performance report card. The district successfully integrated two full-time digital learning programs into the curriculum. Online courses have been accessed through Virtual Arkansas and by a grant from Arkansas Public School Resource Center. A Student Council was developed after more than a decade hiatus, and ongoing training and support will ensure the longevity of the club. Investing in Jessieville’s future, the high school is currently in the process of adding a minimum of 15 more hours of concurrent credit courses. Available in 2015-2016, an approximate total of 36 credit hours can be earned by industrious students. Also new for the coming school year, is Dr. Ralph Carter. Dr. Carter was hired as the new superintendent and will be on campus in June. The JHS Vocal Music program received several awards. The Women’s Ensemble, led by Lydia deSambourg, received all Superior ratings at the District and State level and earned Best in Class for all of 3A. Journalism students returned from a conference having won 22 awards, including eight Honorable Mentions, seven Excellents, and six Superiors, 2 of which are Best in Arkansas. A few construction projects will be underway this summer in order to be finished for the beginning of the new school year in August. Current plans include a new roof for the Elementary and renovations to the Glazener Gymnasium. A new playground has already been installed for the Elementary. The Jessieville Schools operate under the belief that their greatest strengths are tradition and people. They have loving teachers and staff and enjoy tremendous volunteer and community support through PTO, Watch Dogs, academic tutoring, and other activities.

Lake Hamilton - Class of 2015 / Reflection and Graduation  Planning for the Future While Reviewing the Past -  By Jennifer Olson

Lake Hamilton – Class of 2015

Lake Hamilton School District
Lake Hamilton School District has seen vast change in 2014-2015. Construction has been an ongoing reality on the sprawling campus. Building projects that have been completed are the Junior High classroom addition, High School Career Education and Agricultural Science Building, an Elementary addition, the band shell and other improvements inside Wolf Stadium. The biggest program on the horizon for next year is the Target 100 Initiative. Through this initiative, 100% of graduating seniors are set up for college or a career pathway. An exciting addition to the Target 100 initiative is that the district will begin a Career Pathway to Marketing Management program in 2015-2016, offering Computerized Accounting 1 and Entrepreneurship 1 and 2. Like a number of other schools across the state, Lake Hamilton is working with the ADE and NPCC to be able to help students earn an associate degree in high school. Lake Hamilton Junior High, Elementary, and Primary were recipients of the Arkansas School Recognition and Reward Program. The Junior High was in the top 10% of schools in the state and Elementary and Primary were in the top 20% in the state. Lake Hamilton is also very proud to have numerous teachers gain National Board Certification, remaining the district with the most National Board Certified Teachers in Garland County. The girls’ tennis team won their third state championship in a row. The girls’ cross country team also won a state championship this fall. The High School band received the highest score out of all bands in Arkansas, and then went on to finish in the top 10 at Grand Nationals. They continue “building for the future” at Lake Hamilton, thanks to wonderful community support. The brand new Middle School Building will be open in August, and the multi-purpose arena ready for basketball season in the fall. At the high school, remodeling projects will begin on the cafeteria and dining room addition, and classroom additions.

Lakeside - Class of 2015 / Reflection and Graduation  Planning for the Future While Reviewing the Past -  By Jennifer Olson

Lakeside – Class of 2015

Lakeside School District
The Lakeside School District prides itself on being a progressive educational institution. In an effort to go green during the 2014-2015 year, Lakeside Intermediate reduced the amount of paper sent home to parents. Announcements and information were shared across school social media accounts. Report cards are also accessible online. A number of new programs were implemented across the district, including PARCC assessment, Project Lead the Way, Lakeside Day of Caring-a community service project for students, Digital Broadcasting, an Orchestra program, and the second phase of Sports Medicine. Looking forward, Lakeside plans to continue many of the excellent programs already in place for students, such as offering Chinese to Primary students, after school programming, student intervention, and the Strings program. The Lakeside Legacy Program, an opportunity for students to earn 66 hours of concurrent credit and an Associate Degree upon high school graduation, is highly anticipated. Also new on the horizon for 2015-2016 is Ramp Up, a 7th grade bridge to high school program. Lakeside is proud to have been bestowed several accolades during the year. The district received significant monetary awards for student performance on standardized test scores. The Office of Education Policy at the University of Arkansas announced that Lakeside Middle School won a “High Achieving Overall School” Award. Lakeside High School was awarded the title of “Grade A High School” from the Department of Education. Darin Landry was awarded AAIM High School Principal of the year. Campus upgrades taking place include a remodel and expansion of the high school library and new flooring and seating in the Ram Fieldhouse. The Intermediate playground will receive a complete makeover, including sod, a sprinkler system, handicap accessible equipment, new pavement, a soccer field, basketball courts, four- square courts, and new paint on existing equipment. The district takes pride in having a dedicated staff that is constantly striving to make Lakeside an enriching place for students, never settling for complacency.

Mountain Pine - Class of 2015 / Reflection and Graduation  Planning for the Future While Reviewing the Past -  By Jennifer Olson

Mountain Pine – Class of 2015

Mountain Pine School District
Mountain Pine School District witnessed great success during the 2014-2015 school year. The district has successfully partnered with National Park Community College to offer concurrent credit for Mountain Pine’s high school students. Several updates and purchases of new curricular programs for all grade levels were made, including Successmaker software for math and reading. High school principal, Mike Keese, implemented a new program for seventh grade called “Mountain Pine Way.” This class served a variety of purposes, including teaching behavioral expectations and the rich history of the Mountain Pine community. The students were able to visit a number of Garland County landmarks on enrichment trips, including the bathhouses, the Mountain Tower, and Oaklawn Jockey Club. The program is expected to continue and expand for next year. Elementary principal, Toby Crosby, implemented a new positive behavior reward system called Golden Apple. Students were challenged to earn a reward activity by accomplishing outstanding academic effort, attendance, and behavior for each grading period. Three reading interventionists were employed in the elementary building. The certified teachers are trained in a variety of reading strategies, including the Sonday System, which is approved for dyslexia intervention. These ladies, Shelly Chapman, Laquita Smith, and Vicki Crabtree, have shared data showing incredible growth in their students. Mrs. Margaret Compton completed her 50th year of teaching at Mountain Pine Elementary School, with no plans to retire. Mrs. Leslie Travis received The National Society of High School Scholars’ award for Class Nobel Educator of Distinction. She was nominated for the award by student Haydn Jeffers. Mrs. Barbara Herron won an Arkansas Symphony Guild mini grant for $1000.00. Seven Yamaha Keyboards with stands and headphones were purchased. Mountain Pine considers the students to be the district’s greatest strength, followed by the faculty. Many of Mountain Pine’s teachers have worked in the district their entire teaching careers, pouring their hearts and souls into their students.

St. John’s Catholic School
St. John’s has had a busy year. The Mercy in Me Leadership Program is being offered as an extension of educational and social needs of 8th grade students. It is made up of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities that teach the essentials of teamwork, a spirit of cohesiveness, pride in the school and community, and responsibility to the school and community. Students participated in a photography and video class in order to produce the school annual. In addition, they are involved in mentoring younger students on a one-to-one basis, reinforcing academic improvement. During the 2014-2015 school year, St. John’s began integrating coding into the curriculum, participating in the Hour of Code. Apps on the school’s iPads teach the basics of coding. The goal is to teach students this critical workplace skill. For the second year in a row, St. John’s School’s Destination Imagination team will be going to Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee, May 19-14. The team placed first at the State Competition, and also won the coveted Da Vinci Award for Outstanding Creativity, the highest award given by Destination Imagination. Building improvements were made throughout the year. St. John’s School raised money to renovate the kitchen. Additions included a new commercial freezer, laptop for cafeteria lunch accounting, and other needed equipment. The athletic program had success this school year as well. The private school’s competitive sports program expanded to include 3rd graders. St. John’s girls’ basketball team won second place in the Little Rock parochial league and placed 2nd in the parochial league tournament. The cross country team placed second. By purchasing new volleyball equipment, St. John’s became eligible to host volleyball games and tournaments in the gym. St. John’s prides itself on providing a great environment for all students, including a rigorous academic curriculum, high expectations for moral and academic development, small class sizes, and a highly qualified teaching staff.

Whether area students attend public or private educational institutions, there is no lack of high quality schools from which to choose. At this time of year however, students, parents, and teachers experience a nostalgic time of reflection and graduation.