Chesterton Tribune



Duneland hails Olympic swimmer Blake Pieroni, welcomes more teachers

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It isn’t every Duneland School Board meeting that Superintendent David Pruis can include an Olympic gold medalist in his list of achievements by students from Duneland.

Tuesday was an exception as he, the board, and everyone in the audience was bursting with pride over 2014 CHS graduate and state champion swimmer Blake Pieroni being part of the Olympic relay team that won the U.S. a gold medal for the men’s 4x100 relay on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s a huge achievement. We’re extremely proud of Blake. We’re extremely proud of (CHS Swim) Coach (Kevin) Kinel, our swim club, the swimmers and all the moms and dads,” Pruis said. “We too would like to congratulate Blake on his outstanding achievement. That’s pretty cool. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Outside of the 2016 Summer Olympics, life goes on in Duneland. This week Girls Volleyball, Boys and Girls Soccer teams are underway with the first games of the season. Next week CHS Football and Tennis will start. The CHS Girls Golf team is already off to a strong start with wins over Warsaw and LaPorte last week.

“Everything’s going to get kicked into high gear pretty soon,” Pruis said.

New teachers and staff

In other business, the board welcomed a new group of teachers and staff members joining Duneland for the new school year.

Making introductions, Chesterton Middle School social studies teacher Christine Bullock said she would like to thank the voters in Duneland who passed the referendum in 2012 which directly led to the school’s ability to hire an additional four “core” teachers at CMS this year.

At the meeting was Don Hollandsworth who will teach social studies at CMS, having previously taught at Bowman Academy.

Yost Elementary Principal Anne Stillman introduced Ashley Anderson who will teach first grade.

Liberty Elementary Principal Christy Jarka introduced Courtney Schmidt who will teach third grade, having taught previously at Lake Station Schools.

For CHS, Principal Jeff Van Drie introduced Emily Wilt, the new media specialist who worked as the media secretary for Westchester Intermediate last year, and Thomas Garzella who is succeeding Jeff Larson as the Building Trades teacher.

PennyJo Veatch will teach English at CHS and Matt Walters will be the chair of the school’s Business Department. Phillip Loos will lead the CHS Orchestra and teach instrumental music.

Other hires in the personnel report include custodian Nancy Buza and kitchen helpers Krista Wellensiek, Lucia Dolk, Maria Pedroza and Rachel Alioto.

Two integration specialists hired are Jana Carney-Moran and Nicole Bell. Nicolette Basel-Johnson and Amy Losinski will be high ability aides. Karen Smith and Charlotte Vawter have been hired as bus drivers.

Russ Frauto will be a volunteer Cheer coach at CHS.

Transfers include Business teacher Allen Cochran and Luke Starkey from CMS to CHS. Kelly Bonich will be an English teacher at CHS, moving to full-time. Previous third grade teacher Breinne Ramker will be an interventionist at Liberty Elementary and, previous kindergarten teacher Emily Leonard will teach 2nd Grade at Jackson Elementary.

Resignations this month include CHS English teacher Patricia Stellfox, Bailly Elementary Title 1 aide Katherine Kirk, CHS Social Studies teacher Kent Butler, Yost Elementary first grade teacher Erin Rhodes, music teacher Thomas Santoyo, and bus driver Karin Vetor.

Back to school

School is back in session in one week, starting Aug. 17. Registration for 2016-17 is wrapping up for the high school and middle school this week and appears to be going smoothly. Registration for elementary and intermediate schools took place last week and online registrations have also been an option this year.

For new teachers, orientation will be Thursday morning starting at 7:45 a.m. at the Duneland Schools Administration Center, Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations and Human Resources Monte Moffett said. The session will start 15 minutes earlier than originally announced, he said.

Also, CHS will provide a new orientation program for incoming freshman this Thursday, at 8 a.m., which is being called “Trojan Charge.”

Van Drie said Assistant Principal Brent Martinson will lead the program which will outline what activities and opportunities are available to students that can help them in their career goals. Trojan Charge will last until 1 p.m. and lunch will be provided.

Facility projects

Summer projects at all the Duneland Schools are nearly finished, most will be complete before students return, Pruis said.

The Director of Support Services will be at the board’s next meeting on Monday, Aug. 22, to share updates. Right now, the entry way work at CMS is 80 percent or so complete, with a new awning and parking spaces, Pruis said.

The new entrance doors at CHS will be put in around the time school starts, but nothing will prevent classes from starting, Pruis added. The new band tower will be put in the week of Labor Day, he said.

Roof repairs are 98 percent done at Bailly Elementary and the nurses station is 80 percent complete at LIS. Painting and lighting has been put in at many of the schools.

Asphalt and card access security is near ready at the bus barn, he said.

The Brown Mansion restoration work will be done with painting and wood trim next week. The basement door will be replaced after that, Pruis said.


In business matters Tuesday, the board accepted providing a 10 percent match -- a total of $1,000 -- for a Library Services and Technology Act grant for Jackson Elementary. The grant will pay for cameras and studio equipment to give students the chance to create newscasts, such as weather reports from the school playground. The grant was secured with the help of media specialist Linda Eleftheri, Pruis said.

The board approved cooperative bids from Clover Crest Dairy and Alpha Baking for milk and bread at the schools.

The Corporation’s annual Finance Report for 2015, by Chief Financial Officer Lynn Kwilasz, has been released and was printed in Tuesday’s Chesterton Tribune, Pruis said.

In board comments, Kroeger said she felt “very good” about the school board conference attended by board members this past Friday and Saturday at Swan Lake Resort in Plymouth.

“We have some very positive momentum on some very important priorities,” Kroeger said.


Posted 8/10/2016





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