The Juice. Good News Weekly. [9.8.14]

Posted in: Wilkinsburg School District News
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Start the Presses! The Sixth Grade Newspaper is Underway!

Sixth grade students at Kelly Elementary School have volunteered to engage in a project of completing a newspaper edition.  This project is an extension of a reading assignment involving manuscripts and publishing. Articles will include new staff, food, favorite topics of typical sixth grade students, and hopefully a pen pal article from a student in another state.
Contact:  Rosalind Fisher, Principal at Kelly Elementary

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Backpack Donations from Covenant Church

Backpacks were donated and distributed on the first day of school by Covenant Church at both Kelly and Turner Elementary schools. Covenant Church has been donating back packs to Wilkinsburg students for over ten years.
Contact: Rosalind Fisher and/or Tanya Smith, Principals at Kelly and Turner Elementary Schools

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Consolidation of Middle School and High School Operations Seen as a Positive
Move to consolidate allows flexibility in scheduling, avoids duplication of services, and utilizes teacher strengths

Like all school districts, the Wilkinsburg Borough School District has been hard hit by decreasing levels of financial support from the state level.  Needing to “do more with less” while tacking student achievement levels, the Wilkinsburg School District revised the model under which the Middle School and High School operate.

While holding onto the strengths of the former model such as a separation of the Middle School students from the High School students whenever possible and the flexible grouping of students at the middle school to so as to best support their emerging academic needs, the new model utilizes one building principal and one assistant principal and combines the faculties of the middle school and high school.  It is now likely that a teacher who formerly taught only middle level courses will also be teaching an upper grade level course.  Similarly, teachers who had in the past only taught courses in grades nine through 12 may well be teaching a seventh or eighth grade level course.

When decisions were made as to who would teach course, careful consideration was given to each teacher’s area of expertise, beyond just area of certification.  As a result, Wilkinsburg can maintain its high percentage of highly qualified teachers teaching courses while at the same time placing those teachers in courses where they have both a passion for the content and a level of expertise unique to them.  It is hoped that the result will be a highly engaged student body led by a focused and well prepared teacher.
Contact: Steve Puskar, MS/HS Principal

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Return of Honors Level Courses and Increased Electives Offerings Inspire Students
Summer of 2014. A busy one as Board, Administration, and Faculty Redesign Course Offerings at Wilkinsburg High School.

Listening to the voices of students and parents, the school board, in concert with the administration and faculty, reinvigorated the Program Of Studies at Wilkinsburg High School. Several courses, including honors level courses, were reintroduced; many of which had not been offered in over five years. Additionally, a few new courses were offered, including Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

In a move aimed at embracing the District’s Mission to “promote academic excellence and enhance physical, intellectual, socio-emotional, and cultural growth in all students,” honors level courses in each of the four core content areas of English, math, science, and social studies and an increase in electives in most departments will challenge students to maximize their potential by embracing a wider palate of courses.
Contact: Steve Puskar, MS/HS Principal 

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Wilkinsburg Faculty and Students Embrace Cell Phone Ban
Policy Change by the Wilkinsburg School Board Aimed at Supporting a Reduction in Building Disruptions

The 2014-2015 school year ushered in a new rule for students returning to classes: a ban on personal electronic devices (PEDs) including cell phones.  Students who bring a cell phone or other personal electronic device to school must turn the device in upon entry to school.   The device will be kept by staff until the conclusion of the school day, at which point the device is returned to the student.  Students who fail to voluntarily submit their device face disciplinary action if found to be in possession of a cell phone or other electronic device during the school day.  At Wilkinsburg Jr./Sr. High School, students quickly adapted to the new rule, entering the school building and submitting their device to a team of teachers whose responsibility it is to collect the cell phones.

At a time when many schools embrace a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy in an effort to engage students in learning by utilizing their devices in a productive manner, the school board and administration are exploring how technology can best be utilized in the Wilkinsburg School District. We will continue to support a “back to basics” approach to learning, focusing on a rigorous and relevant curriculum, sound instruction, fair assessment, and a classroom environment conducive to learning.
Contact: Dr. Daniel J. Matsook, Supt.

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