Indian River School District
Millsboro Middle School is only a half-mile away from a major laboratory and vaccine manufacturer. But a small group of students experienced their very first trip inside the gates of Merck Animal Health facility for Manufacturing Day on Oct. 7.
A handful of Future Farmers of America (FFA) members joined U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, USDA Under-Secretary Michael Scuse and other national leaders to learn that agriculture isn’t just growing plants or livestock. Merck is one of many manufacturers in the agriculture field, creating poultry vaccines.
“To me, it was kind of an eye-opener, because I’ve never been in here before, and I’ve just imagined it as a factory. But it’s so much more than that,” said student Taylor Bullis.
Indeed, the media wasn’t even allowed to attend the tour of the facility, but the students and senator said it was interesting.
According to a lawsuit filed this week, local students aren’t being treated fairly — especially when it comes to the high rate of African-American students being placed in the Indian River School District’s alternative school in Frankford. The federal lawsuit was filed against the school district on Sept. 30, by the Coalition for Education Reform and two families.
The Indian River School District has its number.
In a Nov. 22 current-expense referendum, the IRSD will request an additional 49 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
If the majority of the public approves, the IRSD could add another $7.35 million to its coffers one year from now.
The district is one of the most steadily growing districts in Delaware.
For one week this summer, Drew Szlasa was flying airplanes, or controlling them from an aircraft carrier ship.
But this Selbyville Middle School eighth-grader wasn’t really up the air or at sea. She was in an immersive National Flight Academy summer camp, with hints of virtual reality, at Pensacola, Fla.
The whole building was designed to look and feel like a ship. Even the dorms were laid out like an aircraft carrier.
There were two teams — those flying the aircraft, plus the mission control team helping the aircraft navigate.
“They had these flight simulators where they taught you how to fly it,” said Szlasa. “There was this place called the JIC [Joint Intelligence Center] where you told the planes where to go.”
When flying, the plane started on the actual boat, “and then you take off from there,” she said. “The aircraft was really fun. … It was laid out like an actual airplane. It would be just you and a co-pilot.”
Every day at the flight simulator, campers sat in front of screens, maps and diagrams to complete the mission.
The Indian River School District’s budget is not keeping up with their students’ needs, so the local Board of Education has decided to host a current-expense referendum on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
How much will they request? The board hasn’t decided.
Life has changed since Gov. Jack Markell graduated from Newark High School in 1978. Back then, he said, people could get a decent job immediately after high school.
Nowadays, to find a job “that’s going to allow you to pay the kind of life you probably want to lead, you’re going to have to pursue additional training after high school,” Markell told Indian River High School seniors this week. “That doesn’t mean you have to start immediately after high school. But in order to advance, you’re really going to have to continue to invest in your education.”
Markell isn’t saying everyone needs a two- or four-year degree.
But the State of Delaware has invested in post-secondary training, and students should, too, Markell told the IRHS senior class on Sept. 20.
His visit was part of Delaware Department of Education’s third annual senior class tour, which supports students in transitioning from high school to college and career.
An Indian River School District para-educator was arrested Sept. 20 on allegations that she had engaged in sexual acts with a 17-year-old male student who was enrolled at her assigned school.
The Georgetown Police Department arrested Nicole M. DeGirolano, 23, of Millsboro, on four counts of sexual abuse of a child by a person in a position of trust, authority or supervision.
The Delaware State Police Explorers program consists of young men and women who have an interest in law enforcement.
Parents told they shouldn’t be concerned
Indian River School District officials said this week that the blue bracelets making their way around Indian River High School on Sept. 19 were nothing more than a bad joke.
Several students were distributing blue rubber bracelets printed with the words “Kill yourself” and a swastika, according to district officials.
This past spring, Indian River High School students collectively took 152 Advanced Placement exams. They blew those exams out of the water, earning “qualifying scores” on 76 percent of those exams, far exceeding the national average of 57 percent. They also won about two dozen scholar awards.
Patricia Dailey-Lewis, who heads the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, recalls the moment the foundation was born.
Indian River School District will welcome more than 10,000 students back to school when the 2016-2017 school year begins on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Preschool programs, including Project Village and TOTS, will begin on Monday, Sept. 12. The last day of school for students is Friday, June 16, 2017. The last day for preschool is Friday, June 9, 2017.
Indian River School District officials have been telling people for years now that the student population is growing much faster than once anticipated. This month, the school board slashed the district’s budget by about 13 percent, amidst plans to potentially build three new buildings and renovate three more in the near future.
The cafeteria at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts resembled a giant classroom on the morning of Monday, Aug. 22, with fresh faces seated at rows of tables, surrounded by shiny, colorful new school supplies — except that many of those at the desks had brought their own cups of coffee and all were at least in their early to mid-20s.
Readers who think young people today spend too much time on computers might want to stop right here. On second thought, keep reading… and be impressed.
Two students in Indian River High School’s Junior ROTC program spent a week in August at CyberPatriot camp at the Randolph Macon Academy in Front Royal, Va. The camp is part of a cybersecurity education program in which teams from all over the country learn cybersecurity tactics and compete against each other to identify threats and defuse them.
The program was started in 2009 by the U.S. Air Force Association and funded by the Department of Defense.
The AFA has been increasingly concerned with cybersecurity — keeping the nation safe from threats against computer systems. Disruption of computer systems can cause major damage to the country’s banking, commerce, manufacturing, defense and other industries — and the CyberPatriot program has several goals that address those threats.
This year, hundreds of Indian River School District parents will begin navigating a new pathway they didn’t expect: special education services for their kids.
It’s a tricky road to follow. Families try advocate for their children, sometimes not even fully understanding the educational process and their rights.
Special education is “an ever-evolving specialty,” said Heather Statler, who has dedicated her career to the subject. Now, this Indian River School District board member is chairing the new Special Education Task Force, which will review the district’s entire special-ed program.
In our Aug. 12 article “IR educator: Teachers undermined as parents demand special treatment,” we referenced the IRSD board’s decision-making on additional admissions to the East Millsboro Elementary School Spanish Immersion program. The four students who were recommended did go through the lottery process with all applicants.
More than four dozen students at Lord Baltimore Elementary School will receive backpacks filled with school supplies to start their school year, thanks to the efforts of a group of local women.
The idea for the backpack project came about as a group of women who live in the Bishop’s Landing development collected their usual money for local charities during their monthly luncheon. The women decided that they wanted to contribute backpacks and came up with filling 50 packs as their goal.
First, the backpacks themselves were purchased, and into each one was placed a supplies list for one of the grades at Lord Baltimore, which encompasses kindergarten through fifth grade. The individual backpacks were then taken by households in Bishop’s Landing and filled with everything from dry erase markers to earbuds.
Schools in the Indian River District will host a series of open houses in the coming weeks.
Open houses are designed to allow students and parents to meet teachers and staff, view class lists and tour school buildings. A number of schools will host multiple sessions during a three-day period, with each session catering to a different grade level.
Every school year brings new faces to the classroom, and the Indian River School District has a handful of new administrators leading local education for the 2016-2017 school year.
Indian River High School is welcoming two new assistant principals, Chad Moletress and Laretha Payton, who filled vacancies left by Corey Heacock and Justin Miller.
Teachers are trusted to manage classrooms, from grades to discipline. But when parents are unhappy with a teacher’s decision, they’re sometimes taking advantage of the system, according one local teacher.
At Indian River High School, students aren’t getting equal treatment when parents demand that the administration intervene, said physical education teacher Wendy Megee.
This year, 10 students of all ages won college scholarships from the Indian River High School Alumni Association.
The group far surpassed their original goal of awarding four IR Pride Scholarships, which were presented to college students and to recent high school graduates at their Aug. 1 meeting.
Five recent grads won the $1,000 IR Pride Scholarship; four alumni won the $500 IR Pride Scholarships for Current Alumni; and one grad won a special memorial scholarship of $3,150.
The award celebrates school spirit, beyond the usual academics or athletics.
The Indian River School District recently announced its adult education course offerings for the fall of 2016. They can now be viewed online at irsd.net.
Fall 2016 courses for youth include:
• Babysitting Course by Delaware Safety Council (ages 11-16): Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 17-18, 5-7 p.m., $50, Southern Delaware School of the Arts library. Advance registration required.
The Indian River School District is continuing to produce new episodes of its “IRSD Spotlight” podcast. The episodes can be accessed free of charge through iTunes, soundcloud.com, the district website at irsd.net and several mobile podcast apps.