Chesterton Tribune

Duneland school board reflects on memorable year

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Last week’s well-attended Chesterton High School graduation ceremony was icing on the cake in a great year for the Duneland School Corporation, a sentiment expressed by Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer and members of the school board Monday.

At the end of last night’s school board meeting, cheers were offered all around for the speakers, CHS Principal James Goetz, his staff and the agreeable weather for the 2012 commencement held in the CHS football stadium on Thursday, June 7.

Having taught social studies at CHS for a number of years, board member Ralph Ayres remarked, “It was the best graduation I’ve seen.”

Baer said the ceremony was the culmination of all the great things he’s seen this past year in all programs, from academics to sports and to the arts which he has seen supported by the e-mails he gets from parents and community members.

“(All years) ended up being great but this one ended up being memorable,” he said.

On another note, Baer also took a moment to thank the community for voting “yes” in the May 8 schools referendum, which will increase property taxes by .22 per every $100 of assessed value to cover shortfalls in the school’s general fund budget used to fund salaries and programs. He acknowledged those who helped campaign for the favorable vote. “It was certainly a team effort.”

Baer said that the vote was made for the children and vowed that the school corporation “will be good stewards of those additional dollars” gained as a result of the tax increase. A committee to make recommendations on expenditure of those dollars is expected to be set up in the next few months.

Monday also marked the start of summer school classes and Baer said he knows the students are already performing tremendously.

“It makes you very proud to be part of our system,” said board member Mike Trout.

WSDO anniversary poster

Chesterton High School’s student-run radio station, WSDO 88.3 FM has reached the milestone of being “The Rock of Chesterton” for 35 years. The station went live on Nov. 24, 1976, operations manager Michele Stipanovich told the board.

To mark the occasion, professional illustrator Mitch Markovitz, who is known for his series of posters for the South Shore commuter rail line, created a poster for the station done in his signature style. The poster, which was dedicated to the board, is signed by student news director Nathan Babcock, co-program directors Patrick Menn and Billy Atherton, music director Jackie Santos and Chicago DJ John Records Landecker, who visited the station as a special guest earlier this year.

Baer said the poster will be hung on a wall inside the board meeting room.

According to Ayres, WSDO is the second oldest high school radio station in the state, behind WJEF in Lafayette. He said WSDO is the only one he knows of that reports local election results as they are coming in.

“If you talk about ‘the Duneland Difference, this is one of the differences we have,” said Ayres.

The radio class is open to all high schoolers, freshman through seniors, who can also receive college credit through the University of Southern Indiana if they wish, said Waters.

There are approximately 60 students in the WSDO club, Waters said, and 15 work steadily as DJs.

The station this year received high marks in areas such as radio imaging and copywriting from the Indiana Association of School Broadcasters, said Waters.

Baer complimented the students for showing a high level of professionalism in all of their radio programs.

Head Start takes a step

toward better health

The Head Start program is striving to make health and safety larger components of its efforts, program coordinator Ray Gartner told the board.

Duneland’s Head Start program began at Westchester Intermediate School more than 10 years ago to serve low income families by helping preschoolers prepare for kindergarten while monitoring the participant’s health and nutrition. Funds are received from the federal government and Gartner said there is currently enough in the budget to support a total of twenty students. The program has been running at full capacity and has a waiting list of about twenty names.

Gartner said this year Head Start has been successful in having all of its participants comply with their medical check requirements. Those include completing a physical check-up, receiving the proper immunizations, hemoglobin and lead screenings, and making a record of the participant’s height, weight and body mass index calculations, which are disclosed to parents.

The program formed a new partnership with the Porter County Career Center, initiating ways for the children to follow hygienic practices such as washing their hands and brushing their teeth properly. Gartner said more nutritional programs are becoming available to combat conditions such as obesity. In addition, the children participated in a “Stranger Danger” program assisted by the Chesterton Police Department.

Gartner said about half the parents have expressed their appreciation to him through e-mail messages. The program was reviewed by state and federal officials and has to follow about 1,800 stipulations.

Gartner thanked the board and those sitting in the audience for their support. “We continue to do well for the schools and community having supporters like you behind us.”

High Ability

Duneland Schools’ High Ability program also saw an active year.

In a presentation to the board, Tammy McEuen, instructor for Brummitt and Yost elementary schools, and a group of fourth grade students from Yost discussed their research of the Titanic luxury liner which sank 100 years ago. Each student picked an actual passenger to portray and told the board about their person.

Another presentation was given by Liberty Elementary second-grader Luke Stento who displayed his small-scale model of an 82-foot lighthouse located in New Harbor, Maine, and described the way it guides ships. Assisting was Kelly McBride who instructs High Ability in Liberty and Jackson elementary schools.

From the Middle School program at Liberty, seventh grade students Natalie Beglin and Sydney Ghoreishi, with the help of teacher Anne Starke, presented a three minute music video they worked on.

Liberty Elementary Principal Christy Jarka who coordinates the elementary programs said 14 percent overall of the K-4 students were in the high ability program this year and 23 percent for grades 5 and 6.

Students are chosen for the program if they demonstrate exceptional academic and leadership skills. Students can be nominated by parents or by teachers.

Information on nominations or appeals can now be found on the school website, Jarka said.

The board extended compliments to all of the presenters.

“It’s very humbling,” said board member Nick Jurasevich.

Textbook Fees

Also Monday, Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett read the 2012-2013 year rental fees for text books. Compared with this past year, all fees decreased or stayed the same with the exception of Kindergarten which saw a small increase of $2. The total fees, with the differences shown in parentheses, are: Kindergarten, $120 ($2 increase); first grade, $152 ($0); second grade, $142 (-$2); third grade, $130 (-$3); fourth grade, $130 (-$1); fifth grade, $138 ($0); and sixth grade, $141 ($0).

Fees for the higher grades vary based on the classes taken.


In personnel matters, the school board approved hiring Allison Nix for half time art at CHS. She is the daughter of CMS art teacher Jody Nix and is a graduate of Valparaiso High School and Aquinas College.

The board also approved a child care leave for the 2012-13 for CHS Spanish teacher Julia Clark. Resignations were approved for Yost Elementary 3rd grade teacher Ryan Erdelac, Liberty Elementary 1st grade teacher Emily Mateer-Bolin, and CMS art teacher Jody Nix.

In addition, the board approved driver’s education teachers and summer school teachers. Teaching this year’s driver’s education courses are Scott Truelove, Greg Kearney, Richard Hurey, Hank Matthys, Rob Hanson, Dennis Leonard and Rex Miller.


Posted 6/12/2012