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Drone Club expands students' horizons
Improvement seen through MTSS
new slt school board pic web
Park Elementary fifth grader Jasmine Figaroa speaks to the Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education, Thursday afternoon at Park School. Also pictured is Brock Funke, the schools technology coach. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Fifth grader Jasmine Figaroa was a featured speaker at Thursday’s school board meeting, sharing a video she made in Park School’s Drone Club.
Students in the after-school club do more than fly unmanned aerial videos, Park Elementary Principal Phil Heeke said. They’re also expanding their horizons, learning skills such as video production and public speaking.
Jasmine showed members of the Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education her video of the recent Kids Ag Day.
“It took me about two days,” she said. She pored through hundreds of still photos and video clips shot from the drone and on the ground. She edited them into a one-minute piece with titles and music.
Heeke said he also took six Drone Club members to the Great Bend Noon Kiwanis Club on Wednesday so they could give a presentation on what they’re learning.
Park Elementary got its first drone four years ago. Today, the Drone Club has Federal Aviation Administration certification and the students have produced videos of school and community events. Heeke said Jasmine showed him how to create a split screen effect on a video. A former club member who is now in the eighth grade has plans to earn her drone license and is already considering a future business where she can use the skills, he added.
Park Elementary’s videos are posted on the “Park Elementary School” Facebook page (click on “videos”).

School improvement
The school board holds a luncheon meeting once a month during the school year, visiting all of the learning centers during the course of the year. Park Elementary hosted Thursday’s meeting, the first one of the 2017-2018 school year.
The board also heard from the school’s reading coach, Lacey Hofflinger; math coach, Kelsey Perry; technology coach, Brock Funke; Kansas Reading Roadmap/LIFE coordinator Christina Ingram; and family support representative Alana Blessing. The reading and math coach reported that MTSS (multi-tiered system of supports) has led to improvements in students’ skill levels. For example, in the fall of 2015, 34 percent of the kindergartners were at the desired reading level, Tier 1. Students in Tier 2 need additional help and those in Tier 3 need even more help to catch up with their grade level. By the spring of 2016, the number of Tier 1 students has improved from 34 percent to 80 percent.
“We’re really happy with the MTSS process,” Hofflinger said. “We see it working.”
The process involves testing students often and giving them extra help — called interventions — for areas they haven’t completely grasped. The test scores are sent home to parents, who can contribute to their children’s success. Teachers explain this at parent-teacher conferences and the schools have sponsored “MTSS Nights,” Hofflinger said.
School board member Susan Young commented on the importance of parent involvement in MTSS.
“My hope of hopes is that parents would become advocates of this program in the community,” Young said.
Perry noted that teachers want to see more students in Tier 1 by the end of the school year, which means they also want to see fewer students in Tiers 2 and 3. Teachers can track students from year to year, but they don’t know what to expect when a child enters kindergarten.
“Kindergarten is its own world,” Perry said. This year, “we had a chunk of kiddos that couldn’t count to five (at the start of the year), and now they’re counting to 40.”
MTSS also offers positive behavioral intervention and supports for behavioral issues. The number one issue is attendance.

FFA gift; personnel
In action items Thursday:
•The school board accepted a donation for $860.55 from Zoetis Inc. to the Great Bend High School FFA Chapter. The donation is on behalf of three local veterinary clinics, Animal Medical Center, Countryside Vet and Hoisington Vet Hospital, who are distributors of Zoetis products.
• The board approved two new licensed teacher assignments. Heather Cleveland will move to Great Bend from Texas in December and will teach architecture and drafting at GBHS. Samantha Teri will teach special education adaptive classes at Park Elementary and at other schools as assigned.