Indian River School District
Just three Delaware schools were named 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools, including Frankford’s own John M. Clayton Elementary School. JMC, Lake Forest North Elementary and the Academy of Dover charter school and are among the 337 schools that will be officially honored in November in Washington, D.C.
For nearly a decade in Dagsboro, Indian River High School has made a name for itself in sports, service, academics— in all ways, but one: literally.
IRHS has never had a school sign, until now.
A rainy Saturday couldn’t stop the new 10-by-14-foot electronic sign from proudly glowing on its dedication day. Funded by the IRHS Alumni Association, with support from the community and local legislators, the new sign was dedicated on Oct. 11.
When the new school building opened in the fall of 2005, former principal Mark Steele began socking away extra funds to eventually buy a sign. Principal Bennett Murray continued the tradition and brought that request to the IRHSAA, which began fundraising for it one year ago.
The dedication this week might not have happened for another decade without significant contributions from local lawmakers. State Reps. John Atkins and Ron Gray and state Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. all donated thousands of dollars, footing the majority of a $40,000 bill.
There is excitement amongst the fourth-graders at Lord Baltimore School in Ocean View. Their school is becoming a sister school with Samata Shiksha Niketan, near Kathmandu, in Nepal. The special focus will be an exchange of art and culture.
Each of the five fourth-grade classes taught by art teacher Melissa Kelly has been visited by Holly Kaufman and her mom, Amy Kaufman, to present the program and answer questions. Holly was herself a student of Kelly’s at Lord Baltimore about 10 years ago, and she has also taught at Samata.
Holly started her presentation with the typical Nepali greeting “Namaste,” her hands prayerfully together and with a little bow. She then proceeded to talk to the students in fluent Nepali, just to give them an idea of how the language sounds. They were impressed. Then Holly used slides to tell the children about Nepal and the differences between their schools and daily lives.
The children at first had difficulty understanding where to find Nepal on a map. Then one remembered that Nepal is where Mount Everest is located and another realized it must be in Asia, and another guessed it was sandwiched between China and India. Nepal is approximately the size of Tennessee. Holly told the students that, because of the high altitude, the Nepalese think their country is at the top of the world.
Indian River High School senior Taite Daisey recently attended the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Leadership Academy in Washington, D.C. Held Sept. 20-23, the event was attended by HOSA student leaders from across the United States. Daisey is vice president of Delaware’s HOSA chapter and plans to pursue a career as a physician after graduation.
Students were divided into 10-person teams during the four-day academy. They attended leadership courses, participated in team-building activities and toured Washington, D.C. Daisey’s team included students from Hawaii, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan and Wisconsin.
“It was a lot of fun to meet new friends from all over the country,” she said. “I think I learned a lot to bring back to the state.”
Shirley Townsend, an instructor in Indian River High School’s Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program, said Daisey has played a major role in building the school’s HOSA chapter, which is only two years old. Daisey also serves as vice president of the IRHS chapter.
“Taite is in a class by herself,” Townsend said. “She’s very much a go-getter.”
The Indian River School District’s Adult Education course offerings for Fall 2014 can now be viewed online at irsd.net, officials announced this week.
Nearly 10,000 students attend schools in the Indian River School District, and school officials aren’t done counting, since state funding is based on student populations on Sept. 30. At this point, the IRSD has 9,872 students — a number that will likely increase in the next week.
That’s already 437 students more than last year’s 9,435 students.
“That’s the state’s indication of how much money we are going to receive,” said Assistant Superintendent Mark Steele at the school board’s most recent meeting.
Because the State of Delaware funds a certain number of staff based on unit count, IRSD is currently understaffed, until that additional funding arrives for about 30 more positions.
Sussex County students can earn a lesson in politics — and pocket a little cash for their education — this election season, as the County is once again is sponsoring its Election Year Scholarship Contest for local students. As in elections past, students will be asked to predict which candidates will win office in the 2014 general election, set for Nov. 4.
After being ousted from his position as school principal in January, John Turssline of Ocean View is on administrative leave from Indian River School District after violating a personal restraining order. Turssline was the assistant head of school (similar to assistant principal) at G. W. Carver Academy, an alternative school in Frankford.
School bus routes are affecting more than just parents. Sharon Moore and her coworker stood before the Indian River School District Board of Education on Aug. 25 to share how direly the new bus schedule could affect Guardian Angel Daycare.
Living just 15 minutes from Phillip C. Showell Elementary, the school’s new principal can’t wait to get involved in her school community, and Heather Bethurum’s short commute to Selbyville means she can really live in her school community.
“It’s so much easier to be involved in evening things,” she said, coming from Millsboro. “It’s important to go to the festivals or see kids at the grocery store sometimes, and I didn’t see that at Seaford. I loved my school, but it was just time to consolidate.”
Bethurum was principal of Blades Elementary in Seaford for two years. Before becoming assistant principal, she taught art and enrichment.
In the beginning of her PCS tenure, Bethurum is “just getting to know everybody. There are so many things that are working here so well. The challenge is not to change things that are working so well,” but step into the system and make changes together. “The staff here is very capable. I’d rather come in alongside them.
“What a fabulous school. The staff has been so friendly,” Bethurum said. “The community’s been wonderful.”
She’s worked with returning Assistant Principal Brandon Snyder on a revamped schedule and local emergency responders for drills.
Head coach Steve Kilby and the Indian River High School soccer team will have a few streaks to defend this season, looking for not only their seventh consecutive conference championship, but another state championship, as well, after the team made history with their first ever DIAA title last season.
However, after graduating eight seniors from last year’s roster, the Indians will have to do so behind the leadership of a few key returners and a youth infusion from some talented incoming freshmen.
One of the most crucial roles that needed to be filled was in the goal, with All-State keeper Sam Cannon now playing at Lynchburg College. Kilby said this week that junior goalie Ian Walls was adjusting well to his new starting role.
“Ian’s looking very solid. We’ve been fortunate to have a legacy of goalkeepers at Indian River, and I think Ian’s gonna fit that role,” Kilby said. “He got in some big minutes in the conference championship game, and he played in several games for us last year.”
In the field, the Indians will rely on three returning All-State seniors and captains: midfielder Luis Cruz, midfielder Danny Garza and defender Sean Whelen.
“Luis is healthy. We’re kind of looking for him to play a big role in the central midfield, get him forward when we need to,” Kilby explained.
Selbyville Middle School has a new leader at the helm this year. Jason Macrides is excited to join SMS students, staff and parents.
“I come to the Indian River School District with a high level of excitement and enthusiasm, and they can count on getting my best every day,” he said.
Macrides (pronounced “mac-REED-ess”) was the principal at Delmar Middle School for two years and assistant principal there before that. He taught social studies at Stephen Decatur High School for 13 years prior to his administrative roles, also coaching lacrosse.
“Education allowed me to combine the things I loved as a younger person,” he said, pointing out that it has allowed him to share his love of history “and continuing my involvement in athletics via coaching.”
Originally from Syracuse, N.Y., Macrides came to Salisbury University for its lacrosse team, but stayed for the teaching program. Now he loves working at a middle school.
“I don’t think I’d have it any other way. Middle-school kids — they’re still malleable, they’re receptive, they’re eager. They come to school excited,” Macrides said. “That just makes for a great atmosphere. I really do enjoy working with the middle-school kids [although] they have their quirks.”
As Macrides often tells parents, his outlook changed when he joined their ranks and became a parent himself four years ago.
The Indian River School District is teaching at all hours of the day, having announced its Adult Education offerings for the fall of 2014, which include everything from babysitting certification to aerobics.
This year, Self-Defense and Karate returns to the lineup on Tuesday nights, Sept. 9 to Dec. 16, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at John M. Clayton Elementary. People can join to get a few self-defense basics that might come in handy in a dark parking lot, or they can begin long-term training, so the person who dreams of a black belt can continue taking these sessions in winter or spring.
Classes are flexible, so people can skip a semester or work side-by-side with people at vastly different skill levels.
The Indian River School District will host a special public information session regarding school choice on Monday, Aug. 25, at Sussex Central High School at 6 p.m. The session will take place prior to the regularly-scheduled Board of Education meeting at 7 p.m.
Kids at Phillip C. Showell Elementary School can now go outside the classroom to learn, thanks to the help of Eagle Scout Michael Thompson.
Like it or not, September is coming, but Indian River High School officials want new students to feel at home immediately. IRHS is inviting all incoming ninth-graders and any transfer students to a New Student Orientation on Thursday, Aug. 21, at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s something that we’ve always wanted to do” — prepare students for the next four years, said Principal Bennett Murray.
The Indian River School District’s Adult Education course offerings for Fall 2014 can now be viewed online at irsd.net, officials announced this week.
Fall 2014 courses for youth include:
• Babysitting Course — Delaware Safety Council: Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 6-7, 4:30-7 p.m., $50, Lord Baltimore Elementary School library. Advance registration required.
District adds 16 minutes to school day
The tribulations of the nation’s Southern boarders have reached up to pinch Delaware this week as the Indian River School District Board of Education discussed the impact of immigration on local schools.
It took some persuading, but the Indian River School District will now begin planning a new health curriculum. The district’s school board unanimously OK’d the purchase of a six-book HealthSmart program and formation of a committee to write the district’s new health curriculum.
Property owners will keep a few dollars in their pocket after the Indian River Board of Education voted recently to reduce the school district’s property tax rate by 5 cents. The tax rate for the 2015 fiscal year decreased from $2.743 to $2.693 per $100 of assessed value.
Indian River High School recently announced its final honor roll for the 2013-2014 school year. Receiving High Honors for grades between 93 and 100 were:
During a long school day, any physical activity can be a welcome break. That’s why Robert “Bob” Hahn makes physical education a positive thing at G.W. Carver Academy, where he was named Teacher of the Year this year.
“I’m here to teach them to try to keep themselves physically fit, find things that they like to do to keep them active and try to keep them out of trouble,” he said.
The Indian River School Board of Education this week discussed, and ultimately rejected, a free meals program. Funded by the U.S. government, students could get free breakfast and lunch though Community Eligibility Provision, regardless of economic necessity. The CEP aims to feed children in high-poverty areas.
Jamie Moore’s day begins at 4 a.m., when she takes time to write nine different art lessons for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. But that’s OK. She’ll get to watch those 450 students blossom over time at Southern Delaware School of the Arts.
“That’s the advantage of having such an age range. The little ones see what big kids do,” Moore said. “I get to grow them. And not many people get to do that.”
Even with decades of experience, Moore’s enthusiasm and new ideas earned her recognition as SDSA’s 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year.
“I teach creative thinking and problem-solving,” she said. “SDSA affords me the chance to be a risk-taker.”
Moore gets more class time than typical art teachers. But she also lets kids do great things.
“I think if kids are given an opportunity and a place to feel free … they’re just being themselves, and themselves are pretty interesting.”
Kayla Bollinger may only be in her 20s, but kids have long looked up to this Teacher of the Year.
“When I was younger, everyone referred to me as ‘Mom.’ I would go to different events with my parents, and the kids were just drawn to me,” said Bollinger, labeling herself calm and soft-spoken.
Now teaching fourth grade at Lord Baltimore Elementary School, Bollinger has transferred that motherliness to her own new family and that calm to the classroom.
“What I like about her classroom atmosphere is there’s always a sense of calm in her room. You always walk in and just go ‘Ahh,’” said fellow teacher Donna Smith. “Not too over the top and out of control … and the kids seem so happy.”
But don’t let the tranquility fool you. Bollinger stays sharp, always thinking ahead.
This year’s Indian River High School Hall of Fame inductee is a doctor, mother, fundraiser and cancer survivor. She was also voted “Most Likely to Study on a Thursday Night” in college.
Consistency and community are the most important things to 2014 inductee Devi Enerio-Ellant, Class of ’87.
Children are less likely these days to lose important paperwork in their backpacks, since the Indian River School District is offering a new paperless information system. Parents will now receive promotional literature in the form of emails, instead of the traditional paper fliers.
Dark clouds may have pushed Indian River High School’s graduation indoors, but that couldn’t stop the joy of 230 graduates, along with their families, friends, teachers and administrators, on May 27.
“You really made this school and community proud,” said former principal Mark Steele, attending his first graduation as assistant superintendent of the Indian River School District.