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'Working the plan' pays off for Park School
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Principal Phil Heeke announces academic awards for Park Elementary School, Thursday at a school board meeting.

The number of Gold and Silver awards for good grades has soared at Park Elementary School in the past three years.

Park Principal Phil Heeke told the school board Thursday how “working the plan” outlined by the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) has improved student achievement at the school. The Kansas Department of Education uses MTSS to provide a system of prevention, early identification of problems and intervention to ensure every student learns math and reading skills. The move to MTSS began at Great Bend schools in 2015.

Every year, the staff looks at sixth graders’ report cards for the past three years and those who have earned all A’s and B’s from grades 3-6 receive a Silver Award, Heeke said, holding up a sample certificate. Those who have earned only A’s receive a Gold Award.

Heeke hadn’t presented any Gold Awards in his time as principal until the 2016-2017 school year, when the first one was presented. The next year, the school awarded six Golds and 10 Silvers. For the current school year, Heeke had to order more certificates than expected because there were 12 Gold award winners and 10 Silvers. “That’s over half of our sixth grade,” he said.

“We’re seeing great results working the plan. It’s showing up in our students in these academic awards.”

Leadership Club donates to animal rescue

Park Elementary’s Leadership Club was also featured at the board meeting, with several members attending. Heeke described a long list of club projects, such as reading to young students at breakfast, picking up trash, making posters and cooking a meal for the school board earlier this year. They learned the art of decorating napkin folding to prepare hundreds of napkins for the CASA Chocolate Auction earlier this year.

After a successful fundraiser selling suckers, Leadership Club members toured Landmark Bank and opened their own checking account, Heeke said. The sale raised over $800.

Earlier this month, Leadership Club student Adelle Smith’s grandmother, Chris Klima, brought some dogs from her Chasing Tails animal rescue to present a program. One dog Klima rescued from a shelter was found running at large with all of his white fur dyed purple. “I’ve given him baths but it won’t come out,” Klima told the children.

Leadership Club members decided to donate $500 to Chasing Tails Rescue – $200 for an adoption fee and $300 for supplies.

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Members of the Park Elementary School Leadership Club are shown with two dogs from Chasing Tails Rescue. Chris Klima from the animal rescue service is shown holding a $500 check donated by the club.