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
“(All years) ended up being great but this one ended up being memorable,” he
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
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
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
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
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
Baer complimented the students for showing a high level of professionalism
in all of their radio programs.
Head Start takes
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
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.”
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
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.
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.