The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Comments should be respectful and pertain to the topic posted. Comments about personnel matters should be made directly to the administrators responsible. Blog moderators reserve the right to remove any comment determined not in keeping with these guidelines.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

WHS Commencement Reminder

The graduating seniors will be honored on Friday, June 2, 2006 at WHS at 7:00 PM.

Thanks to all the parents, grandparents and educators that played a part in their lives. Earning a high school diploma for some students is more difficult than it has been in my lifetime.

And still...a high school diploma is just a first step towards achieving independence.

The following changes have taken place, many of them in just the last 10 years or so:

1. High school graduation exit exam: This exam was first required in 2003. It was made more difficult in 2005 by increasing the academic standards. It also added more Algebra questions to it, almost turning Algebra I into a "gatekeeper" course to graduation. The test is given to 10th graders in the fall, although students get numerous chances to try again.

2. Eliminating lower level classes: In the last decade Indiana high schools have eliminated almost all lower level Math and English classes except for some for students with special learning needs.

3. Core 40 has become the default curriculum in the high school: It used to be that parents chose the college preparatory curriculum for their 8th graders entering high school. Now the Core 40 college prep courses are the default high school program and parents have to "opt out" of it if they don't want their children taking those classes.

4. Students with special needs must pass the same classes and take the same tests to receive the same diploma: They are allowed more accommodations although the academic standards tested must remain the same. Nevertheless, some students with special learning needs used to receive a diploma and now some of those students may receive a certificate of completion or attendance for going to four years of high school.

Statistics as of Wednesday, May 31, 2006:

The 2002 class of 8th graders had 275 students enrolled at the end of the year. The incoming freshman class showed a beginning enrollment of 282 students. The senior class of 2006 will graduate 208 students. Amazingly enough, according to guidance department numbers 194 students in this class were here all four years of high school.

There were 10 certificates of attendance and 2 certificates of completion given.

Commencement will be Friday, June 2, 2006 at 7:00 PM in the high school auditorium.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

2% circuit breaker: Will it blow the circuit?

The last state legislative session ended in a flurry with state lawmakers passing a law that has become known as the "2% Circuit Breaker." It's intended purpose was to cap your property tax payments at 2% of the assessed valuation of your property. Sounds simple and logical on its face. The side effects however, could be higher interest payments due to declining bond ratings; loss of funding for some schools, cities, libraries and towns where the total rate is over 2%; and possible loss of services and programs.

Proponents say people are worried over nothing. They evidently believe that rising property values will make this a non issue. (Reported here, in The Star.) Critics say the law was passed with absolutely no plan for replacing the lost funding. Critics also point out that if rising property values will keep the rates under 2% of assessed valuation then it's all a political lie anyway. If you still pay the same in property taxes then, "WHAT WAS THE POINT?" Was it just to pretend they lowered property taxes? Was it a pre-election year move?

Only time will tell if the lawmakers had intentions of passing some other type of revenue replacement for all the towns, cities, municipalities, schools and libraries that could lose funding as a result of this law. Or, only time will tell if property values rise so fast that most taxing locales end up under the 2% cap anyway.

Story from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette this weekend is here.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Charlton Scholarships Announced for Wawasee Students

1st Source Bank as Trustee for Donald L. Charlton has announced the establishment of the Donald L. Charlton Scholarship.

This scholarship trust was funded at Don's death in July 2004 and has assets in excess of 1.4 million dollars.

Don was a lifetime Milford resident and he created this scholarship fund for the benefit of graduates of Wawasee High School. While the amount of each scholarship will vary, there will be around $65,000 available the initial year. These scholarships may be renewable and also may be available to students already in 2 or 4 year colleges at the present time. Preference is given to students who reside in Van Buren or East of Jefferson Township and go to Wawasee High School. This was Don's wish as this is where he was born and raised. By spending only a small percentage of the fund in any year, this scholarship fund should provide ongoing financial support to qualified applicants for many years.

For more information contact John Elliott, Vice President and Trust Officer at 574-268-1207.

We are blessed to live in a community where our students are valued and remembered in such a manner.

Friday's Funnies

This has made the rounds before, but here is a modified version. Have a great weekend!

Jesus took his disciples up to the mountain; and gathering them around him, he taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek.
Blessed are they that mourn.
Blessed are the merciful.
Blessed are the pure in heart.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
Be glad and rejoice, for great is your reward in heaven.

Then Simon Peter said, "Are we supposed to know this?
And Andrew said, "Do we have to write this down?"
And James said, "Will we have a test on this?"
And Philip said, "I don't have any paper!"
And Bartholomew said, "Do we have to turn this in?"
And John said, "The other disciples didn't have to learn this!"
And Matthew said, "May I go to the bathroom?"
Then one of the Pharisees who was present asked to see Jesus' lesson plan and inquired of Jesus, "Is this compliant with Title I federal regulations? Does it align with the Indiana state standards and the NCLB?

And Jesus wept.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Summertime Blues

I have been an avid wakeboarder for around 6 years. Skiing is pretty boring (take that Ora Freeman!) compared to the freestyle fun of wakeboarding. However, lately my wife has been nagging me to act my age which I am pretty sure means "quit."

Our boat is a Supra Launch with a 37 gallon gas tank. In order to throw a really big wake we weigh it down with around 2,000 lbs of water filled "fat" sacks . The bad news is that when you pull the wakeboarder out of the water you can practically watch the gas gauge go down. The good news is that you can go "big" and crash in ever more creative ways.

I easily went through a half tank of gas in an early morning Saturday session.

With gas pushing three dollars a gallon I'll probably end up anchored in the middle of the lake on Saturday mornings with my feet dangling off the swim platform of a decked out wakeboard boat. Just sitting with a cane pole, watching the bobber bob up and down in the waves...just tryin' to act my age.

Oh well, that's not all bad.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Academy at Oakwood

I am making a plug for The Academy at Oakwood and its summer retreats. This youth leadership program provides a variety of customizable leadership activities for youth, adults, churches or businesses. And...its right here in our own backyard.

Check out their Grand Opening on June 1, 2006 from 4-6 PM when they unveil their state of the art 50 ft climbing wall, boulder room, giant swing and a 300 yard Zip Line. That's right! It's time to let that "inner James Bond" out!

Check out their web site describing their many programs at

Monday, May 22, 2006

What is a "failing school" under NCLB?

Recent news releases continue to publicize the "failing schools" under the federal law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). What is a "failing school" under this law?

Essentially there are 37 ways for a school to "fail" and one way to succeed. To start with, the definition of "failing" is misleading. Under the law, "failing" means the school didn't meet its progress goals that go up each year until the goal is 100% in 2013-2014.

A school must meet its goal of all children passing ISTEP tests by 2013-2014 and it must continue to have more students pass each year in order to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

In order for a school to avoid "failing" it also must have all subpopulations make progress till it makes 100%.

What are the subpopulations? Special Education students, Poverty students, Limited English students, White students, Asian students, African American students, Hispanic students, Native American students etc.

If any of these populations do not make their AYP towards 100%, than the entire school is labeled "failing."

Example: Let's say that everyone in the school passed the ISTEP tests except some Special Needs students with diagnosed handicaps. And let's say their AYP goal was 80% but only 75% of the Special Needs students taking ISTEP, passed it. In this scenario, the entire school would "fail."

By 2013-2014 most schools in America will be labeled "failing." Achieving perfection is certainly a noble goal to shoot for. However, labeling the entire school as a "failure" is misleading, and even disingenuous.

Here, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette lays out some of the NCLB issues.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday's Funnies

Open Wide...
On the morning announcements, a first grader announced, "Please get ready for a moment of silence and medication."

You Found it Where?
I teach 8th grade U.S. history. I constantly remind my students that accurate spelling is very important in social studies. Despite this, during our unit on colonization I cannot describe how many settlers were seeking religious freedom in William Penn's colon!!!

Cops & Robbers
Little Johnny's kindergarten class was on a field trip to their local police station where they saw pictures, tacked to a bulletin board, of the 10 most wanted criminals. One of the youngsters pointed to a picture and asked if it really was the photo of a wanted person. "Yes," said the policeman. "The detectives want very badly to capture him." Little Johnny asked, "Why didn't you keep him when you took his picture!"

Would you Believe...?
It was my first year of teaching, and I was blessed to teach 8th grade Language Arts. They had to do an autobiography of themselves. One male student did not turn his in till almost two weeks later. This is what he wrote: The biggest moment of my life was when I got my period for the very first time.

Maybe next time this gentleman will read the report before "borrowing" it for a grade.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pools and Press Boxes

Someone in the community recently posed a question similar to this... "How come the school board delayed and agonized over whether or not to reopen the high school pool for $30,000 but never batted an eye over replacing the press box on the high school track and football field for $130,000?"

  • The high school press box is a one time expense and might not have to be replaced for 20 or 30 years. It was the original box.

  • The money for the high school press box comes from construction funds which do not affect instructional programs

  • The press box was dangerous (I poked my finger through the rotting ceiling which was also supporting the floor for the deck on top)

  • The high school swimming pool cost of $30,000 is an annual cost from the General Fund which comes from the same fund as intructional programs

  • The swimming pool decision also included $43,000 in estimated upgrades and repairs that came from construction funds

These are just a few of things that the school board had to consider when wrestling with the issue.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More on video games

Many parents of middle schoolers may have noticed the amount of time their children spend on the internet playing "Runescape." It evidently is the latest thing.

Runescape is a multiplayer internet game where people play against each other by trying to get ahead in an imaginary world. Participants, borrow, trade and barter in an imaginary universe that is basically a giant global economy in cyberspace. They have to deal with unethical players as well as ethical players. If they enter unprotected areas (known as "the wild" according to my son) they can have their goods stolen. ("That's why I never go there," he told me. ) As they get more money and goods they are able to sell them to improve their weapons so they can protect themselves against bigger "monsters" which is evidently how they achieve higher ratings. While there is some violence it isn't your typical "shoot-em-up" graphically violent video game.

The irony is that students will likely remember more about economic interdependence through Runescape then they will by reading and testing on the chapter on "American Capitalism."

It isn't all good though. Sometimes my 12 year old won't even go outside for hours on end. Eyes are glazed. He forgets to eat. Chores? What chores?

A recent commenter on the first post wondered what the impact of all this is on teachers.

Current brain research is proving that students today seemed to be "wired" differently. They are growing up in a visually intense, highly stimulating world. Their need for novelty, fun, and interaction appears to be much higher than previous generations. I think it means as educators we need to provide much more variety in instructional methodologies than we currently do.

That's my take on it.

Video Games: Maybe they are not ALL bad.


A group of Indiana high school students traded in their textbooks for a multi-player video game and achieved higher test scores than students learning the exact same material the old-fashioned way.Under the watchful tutelage of David McDivitt, an enterprising Social Studies teacher at Oak Hill High School in Converse, 64 sophomore students played "Making History," the historical simulation game from Muzzy Lane Software. Another group of students used their standard history textbooks along with the usual lectures and assignments that define a typical day in high school.Both groups were attempting to learn the same material: the political and economic causes of World War II.Both groups were tested on their knowledge of key events, such as the 1938 Munich Conference and their general knowledge of European geography.

One group—the students who played "Making History"—learned more facts and wrote more sophisticated essays in tests conducted after a week of game play. According to Mr. McDivitt, "Making History" also addresses several key components of Indiana's state curriculum guidelines for secondary education."For every teacher using a video game in the classroom there are probably a hundred others watching and wondering about the real educational impact of this technology," says Mr. McDivitt."I am not an expert in statistics unless it has to do with points allowed by my defense on the Oak Hill Golden Eagle football team. But what I am seeing here is the game players are doing better on assessment. The kids who played the game scored as well or better on every single test question we administered."Mr. McDivitt applied a common set of questions to both groups of students prior to game week, and then tested the students with the same questions after each group had completed their learning cycles.What he found was a noticeable and in some cases stunning difference in the degree to which the game-play students improved compared with the textbook students.Here are some of the highlights (percentages indicate the relative increase in performance from the pre-lesson test to the post-lesson test):

Identify the countries of Europe on a blank map outline:
Game Players: 70%
Non-Game Players: 45%
Explain the significance of the 1938 Munch Conference:
Game Players: 90%
Non-Game Players: 55%
Define the reasons for the start of World War II:
Game Players: 67%
Non-Game Players: 35%

"I am not saying that games are the panacea for all of education's problems," says Mr. McDivitt. "But there is no doubt anymore that the right video game integrated properly with traditional curriculum has a clear and meaningful impact on the quality of learning."

Flame away! :-)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Graduating Early

Indiana has a seven semester rule which essentially means that students must complete at least 7 semesters of high school before graduating. Leaving after only three years requires special exceptions.

It has seldom if ever happened at Wawasee, but here is an article regarding some students who did and some students who were eligible to leave early and didn't.

With trimester credits there will be more students with enough credits for graduation but that doesn't mean they all will be ready for college a year early. Decisions like that are probably best made on a case-by-case basis.

2 hour delay Tuesday

Wawasee is on a two hour delay Tuesday.

The fog formed out of nowhere. It was clear around 5:00 AM and then it socked in.

Medium thick fog everywhere. Of course it could change again by the time this gets typed!

Drive carefully.

Monday, May 15, 2006

More on

Most parents are aware that children today do a lot of communicating through the internet. A number of interactive websites such as have become very popular. Like most things in this life, it isn't ALL good. Because there has been some abuse of these sites both by young people and by adults, there are people trying to limit their use.

Here, the LA Times reports a bill that would attempt to ban these sites from schools and public libraries.

First of all, many schools have already blocked access to these sites just to keep students "on task" if nothing else.

Here is a provocative article defending the use of such sites by children.

My position on this issue is that these trends are impossible to halt through simply passing laws that ban their use at school . It's like the current laws banning the sale of pop at school. It isn't that big of deal to ban pop at school. BUT, does anyone really think that this will change obesity patterns in society?

Parents must continue to monitor and be a part of their children's daily lives in a positive way. And, schools must support those efforts. That includes monitoring when possible what they put in their minds and what they put in their bodies. And still, children will push the limits and parents and schools will not always be looking over their shoulder.

Let's hope the values and ethics you have taught them as a parent will carry them through the day.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Friday's Funnies

Newly discovered quotes from mom's of now famous people:

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S MOTHER:"Again with the stovepipe hat, Abe? Can't you just wear a baseball cap like the other kids?"
BARNEY'S MOTHER: "I realize strained plums are your favorite, Barney, but you're starting to look a little purple!"
MARY'S MOTHER: "I'm not upset that the lamb followed you to school, Mary, but I would like to know how he got a better grade than you!"
BATMAN'S MOTHER: "It's a nice car, Bruce, but do you realize how much the insurance will be!"
GOLDILOCK'S MOTHER: "I've got a bill here for a busted chair from the bear family. You know anything about this Goldie?"
LITTLE MISS MUFFET'S MOTHER: "Well, all I've got to say is if you don't get off your tuffet and start cleaning your room, there'll be a lot more spiders around here!"
ALBERT EINSTEIN'S MOTHER: "But, Albert, it's your senior picture. Can't you do something about your hair? Styling gel, mousse, something....?"
GEORGE WASHINGTON'S MOTHER:"The next time I catch you throwing money across the Potomac, you can kiss your allowance good-bye!"
JONAH'S MOTHER:"That's a nice story, but now tell me where you've really been for the past 3 days!"
SUPERMAN'S MOTHER: "Clark, your father and I have discussed it, and we've decided you can have your own telephone line. Now will you quit spending so much time in all those phone booths!"
And finally...
THOMAS EDISON'S MOTHER:"Of course I'm proud that you invented the electric light bulb, dear. Now turn off that light and get to bed!"

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Board Meeting Highlights

Last night at the school board meeting the board...

1. Recognized students in several activities/events:
Mileage Competition in Indy
KYLA students
KEYS students
Danyl Wallace selected to IU Molecular Science program
WMS Academic Super Bowl Students
WHS Art students taking 1st place at Winona Lake

2. Approved Milford PTO donations and donations from Frontline Maufacturing
3. Approved claims, minutes and personnel items
4. Heard a report from Mr. Metcalf on the Career and Technical program
5. Approved the financial report
6. Approved Mr. Steve Perek as the new Dean of Students for WHS for 2006-2007
7. Aproved student handbook changes for 2006-2007
8. Approved 2007-2008 school calendar
9. Approved additional textbooks for various courses and subjects for 2006-2007
10.Discussed moving the June board meeting to June 6

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Tribute to Mom

This was posted last year in honor of upcoming Mother's Day.

My mother passed away a few years ago, leaving behind a wonderful tribute and family legacy. On Mothers' Day it seems appropriate to remember her.

When I was 8 years old, my father passed away after losing a battle with a brain tumor, leaving my mother a widow at age 32 with three children under the age of 8. Mother had been a stay-at-home mom and dad was an airline mechanic for Delta Airlines. Mom did not have marketable job training that would provide a living wage.

Unsure of what to do, she moved our family from Michigan to Ohio to be closer to her parents. She bought a small home and enrolled in college at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio. Her goal was to become a classroom teacher.

My brother, sister and I can still hear her late into the night, studying by reading outloud to herself. I can hardly imagine the stress and workload of a single, widowed mother of three young children taking a full load of classes at the university.

Mother graduated with academic honors in four years and got her first full-time employment as a third grade teacher at the age of 38. I can still remember how excited us children were that mom could finally afford to buy soda-pop for a family treat.

From my earliest memory, I knew that I was going to go to college because mom did, yet the greatest gift my mother left us was her spiritual example. She overcame all obstacles placed before her, and although her life could never have been described as easy, she was satisfied in what life had brought. She never complained, but set a solid example of honesty, integrity and work ethic that has remained a legacy, not only to her children but all who knew her. She never remarried, but chose to dedicate her life to God, her family and her elementary school students.

From her example of going to college and working hard, her three children continued their education as well. In her last few years while fighting cancer, she helped me finish my doctoral dissertation by entering all my data into spreadsheets. My sister completed her college degree and passed her CPA exams and my brother went back to school to finish an MBA.

The research says that one of the highest correlations for educational achievement for any individual is found by tracking the educational degree of the mother. It certainly seems true for our family.

Here in America, the greatest land of opportunity the world has ever known, let us be thankful for caring and dedicated mothers who model the values and work ethic that made America great. Especially those single mothers who must play many roles for their children.

Mothers, take courage, your children will not forget the legacy you leave them. May it be a positive one.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday's Funnies

A little girl came home from school and said to her mother, "Mommy, today in school I was punished for something that I didn't do."The mother exclaimed, "But that's terrible! I'm going to have a talk with your teacher about this ... by the way, what was it that you didn't do?"The little girl replied, "My homework."

The teacher came up with a good problem. "Suppose," she asked the second-graders, "there were a dozen sheep and six of them jumped over a fence. How many would be left?""None," answered little Norman."None? Norman, you don't know your arithmetic.""Teacher, you don't know your sheep. When one goes, they all go!"

The child comes home from his first day at school.Mother asks, "What did you learn today?"The kid replies, "Not enough. I have to go back tomorrow."

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

No Fog Delay Wednesday

Mostly light fog in our area with just a few medium-heavy spots.

Regular time today. It was worse around 5:00 am.

Have a good day.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What makes a high school great?

If you have 10 minutes, here is an interesting article on the question, "What makes a high school great?"

In the next 5 years there is going to be a great deal of national attention paid to the structure and curriculum of the American high school. Here is a look at what some are saying and doing about it.

Note: It is the Washington Post and it could require you to register.

Monday, May 01, 2006

WMS Academic Super Bowl Results

WMS teams finished in the following places on the state level at the recent state competition (in Class 2):

Math: 3rd
English: 9th
Science: 1st
Social Studies: 13th
Interdisciplinary: 9th

The science and math squads will get a plaque and individual medals from the state. The English and Interdisciplinary squads will get a certificate.

Well done, coaches and students!!!

The Great American Boycott

If any of you wish to follow the national boycott today, Education Wonks has put together a blog post with several national links that show how this is developing across the nation today.

Click here to follow the links.