Category Archives: Youth

Summer Education Opp: Tough Love

We’ve written a lot about the Washington Youth Academy, a publicly funded residential high school intervention program for students who have dropped out or been expelled.

We heard from the Bremerton branch of the academy, which is a statewide program, when we asked for “Summer Education opportunities” for children and teens.

We did not include the listing in our Summer Ed Opps list, because the upcoming session, in which students/cadets can earn up to eight credits toward high school graduation, runs July 19 through Dec. 20. I call it to your attention here, because it is a great opportunity for youth who need help getting their lives in order and who need academic credit recovery.

Note the deadline to apply is June 20.

Washington Youth Academy
Ages: 16-18
Where: 1207 Carver Street, Bremerton
Description: At-risk youth can earn up to eight credits toward a high school diploma in five-and-a-half weeks. Next session runs July 19 through Dec. 20; applications are due by June 20.
Eligibility criteria: Students must be a high school dropout or expellee, a U.S. citizen and resident of Washington State, never convicted of a felony and have no legal action pending, free of illegal drugs at time of enrollment, and physically and mentally able to complete the program.
Program incorporates a highly structured quasi-military format emphasizing self-discipline, personal responsibility and positive motivation.
Cost: No cost for qualified candidates. The program is run through a cooperative agreement between the National Guard Bureau and Washington State.
Contact Kasie Roach at Kassondra.roach@mil.wa.gov or 360-473-2629, http://mil.wa.gov/WYA/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/NGYCP-Washington-Youth-Academy/71515853230.

Get a quick snapshot of how your child’s school measures up

On Saturday, we will run a story about struggling schools in Kitsap and North Mason counties, as identified by the State Board of Education.

The schools, identified in the Washington State Board of Education’s achievement index among the state’s lowest performing schools, are Cedar Heights Junior High School in South Kitsap School District, Hawkins Middle School in North Mason School District, Fairview Junior High School in Central Kitsap School District and Central Kitsap’s Off Campus Program.

The good news is that these schools have made some progress over the past three years with financial help and professional guidance from the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. And they’ll continue to get that help, despite Washington State’s loss of a waiver under No Child Left Behind.

In the course of researching this story, I found a handy, dandy tool that every parent of a school-age child can find useful.

Low (and high) performing schools in Washington State are identified through data evaluated in the achievement index. About a year ago, the SBE complied the data (available in a jahonking Exel file if that’s your preference) into a user-friendly dashboard data tool that gives a visual snapshot of each school in the state.

I don’t think this data tool was widely publicized. At least I never saw a press release about it. So they may have given it a “soft rollout” as the saying goes. But maybe I’ve just been behind the curve. I do know that the state is moving toward better public access and transparency of data.

OSPI’s school and district report card, which offers a wealth of information, has been available for a long time. I use it regularly.

Find the achievement index here. From the main drop down window, select your district of choice, then your child’s school to view data on academic proficiency and growth among all students and subgroups of students who have historically lagged behind their grade level peers.

Notice that dark blue represents the highest tier, with dark green at the next level and light green in the middle. Orange and red signify the lowest tiers. Having orange or even red boxes doesn’t automatically raise a red flag, under the SBE’s high-low ID system, which takes into account data over past three years. The system also measures students’ relative academic growth rather than growth against a fixed standard, as under the federal No Child Left Behind standards.

In addition to struggling schools, the Board of Education also identified high performing schools, including 17 in Kitsap and North Mason, which were recognized by OSPI in April.

Seeking summer educational opportunities for listing

The end of the school means fun in the sun (or rain), but learning continues during summer break.
The Kitsap Sun is compiling a list of educational opportunities available this summer in Kitsap and North Mason. The list will run June 10.
Submit items to sunnews@kitsapsun.com.
Put “Summer Education” in the subject line. Include times, dates, location, range of ages, fee (if applicable) and contact information.
For information, contact education reporter Chris Henry at chenry@kitsapsun.com or 360-792-9219.

Guy rents billboard for prom-posal

When Jacob Ness was considering how to ask his girlfriend Abby King to Olympic High School’s prom he wanted to pull out all the stops.

Ness had seen messages of a personal nature on the Mentor billboard near the Warren Avenue Bridge in East Bremerton and, “I just thought that putting that up there would be the mother lode of everything that would be up there.”

He rented the billboard, $80 for three days over a weekend in late May, and roped Abby’s mom, Patti King, in as an accomplice. The two drove Abby to the sign blindfolded. Abby was understandably apprehensive. They spun her around and pulled off the blindfold to reveal the message. Abby was speechless with surprise.
prom

“It worked out perfect,” Jacob said. “I went over and touched her, and she grabbed onto me and started crying.”

In short, she said, “Yes.” Oly’s prom is Saturday. Jacob and Abby will wear outfits that match in what Jacob describes as “seafoamy green.”

Prom-posals, extravagant public displays of affection related to that all important dance, are nothing brand new (the first one that actually got media attention was in 2001, according to a recent article in Time). But the stakes have escalated within the past few years, as teens vie to come up with the most original and clever way to drop the question. And always there is the requisite posting on social media.

Prom-posals are delivered on footballs, vehicles and T-shirts. Guys write them on pets and on themselves. Food — and for some strange reason, chicken — seems to be a trend.
football

vehicle

Tshirt

catgroup

Someprom-posals are romantic in a quirky way, inappropriate way. One of my son’s friends last year pretended to get hurt while playing soccer. The girl he asked was in sports medicine and rushed to attend to him. He lifted his pant leg to show the word “Prom?” on his calf.

bathroom

Yet other other prom-posals, like sunburning the word “prom?” on your back, or reclining in your underwear with rose petals and a giant teddy bear, just seem like a bad idea out the gate.

sunburnbadidea

BHS, KSS bands plans marching marathon

Marching bands from Bremerton High School and Klahowya Secondary School in Central Kitsap plan a marathon of performances on Saturday, starting in Bremerton’s Armed Forces Day Parade and ending in Spokane for the Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade.

KSS band director Lia Morgan, new to Klahowya this year, wanted to resurrect a tradition from years past by bringing the marching band to Spokane. The band will play recently composed music by the a cappella group Pentatonix. In the Torchlight Parade, they will crry glow sticks for effect.

On Sunday, the marathon will continue when the KSS jazz band plays at Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho. Many jazz band members also play in the marching band. The rest of the band will “support them as members of the audience,” Morgan said. Afterward, all of the students, Morgan and a number of parents who are going along as groupies will take a well deserved break by enjoying the rides.

Morgan is proud of her musicians, a number of whom have performed in and won awards in solo competitions this school year. “We have had an exciting and busy year at Klahowya this year and I’m looking forward to more years and activities to come,” she said.

This is the first time Bremerton High’s marching band has played in the Torchlight Parade.

“I thought that would be kind of fun, to do two parades in one day,” said Band director, Max Karler, who is in his first year as director of instrumental music at BHS. Before then, he taught band and orchestra at Mt. Tahoma high.

The Spokane parade starts at 7:45 p.m., but the BHS band’s staging time is 8:15 p.m. Karler figures his group will have time to make the roughly six-hour drive to Spokane in between parades.

No, it’s not by school bus. They are renting charter buses, so the kids can snooze or watch movies as long as it’s “not something I hate,” Karler said. As a student, he once got stuck on a band road trip where the flute section had this obsession with a particularly bad Bollywood movie. But I digress.

Luckily, BHS is near the front of the Armed Forces parade, so they expect to be done by noon-ish.

“When we get done there (Bremerton’s Armed Forces Day Parade), we’re going to get out of our clothes (band outfits), eat some lunch, hop on the bus and go over to their torchlight parade,” Karler said.

Karler is impressed with the group’s can-do attitude and eagerness to try new things.

“It’s totally awesome, just lots of support,” Karler said. “The kids are very capable, lots of strong players and strong leaders.”

Karler let the students suggest the playlist. They’re going with the top three tunes: the BHS fight song (to the tune of “Anchors Aweigh), “Take on Me” (by The A-ha) and “Conga” by Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.

“I’m really excited for it. I think they’re going to do really well,” Karler said.

BHS performed earlier this month in the Sequim Irrigation Festival and won first place for AA and AAA school bands. Go Knights!

SAT changes: rewarding risk

Among changes coming to the SAT college entrance exam in 2016 is a new provision that there will be no penalty for wrong answers.

It’s no secret that strategies for taking the high stakes test are seen as almost as (if not more) important than the content. In the past, students have been coached to answer questions when, by process of elimination and other methods of sifting evidence, they can say with near certainty which answer is correct, according to Franklyn MacKenzie, director of secondary education at Central Kitsap School District.

Calculated risk taking is a useful skill that schools endorse, Mackenzie said. Under the new standard, the SAT will reward that behavior to a much greater level. That is, they won’t be penalized for taking that risk if they happen to be wrong. Schools typically encourage such calculated risk-taking, MacKenzie said. Now the test will be more like what students experience in school.

Chris Swanson, career and college counselor at Bremerton High School, also sees the no-penalty-for-wrong-answers change as a positive. In the past, he said, SAT coaches have made kids crazy by telling them not to answer questions if they’re not almost 100 percent sure. For eager students it feels like slacking and counter-intuitive to what they’ve been taught on school tests.

Swanson believes the old strategies won’t work well on the new SAT. The new test also calls on students to demonstrate why they know something is right, a huge trend in schools these days.

“It sounds to me like in the future those strategies will likely not be the keys to success that they are today, but rather your ability to provide the evidence to back up answers,” Swanson said.

The change could be a good thing for cautious students. But what if you have a student who is perfectly comfortable taking risks, who sees the change as a green light to answer questions willy nilly. The College Board’s press release on the SAT changes doesn’t say how or if the test will screen for such an approach. Perhaps, as Swanson suggests, the call for evidence-based answers will weed out the wanton risk-takers.

Sample questions due out in April are likely to provide more insight into what new strategies will be called for.

Students, what SAT strategies have you found most useful? What was the hardest thing about the test? Knowing what you do now, is there anything you would have done differently to prepare?

Empty bellies and student discipline

The link between discipline in schools and student achievement has gotten considerable attention over the past year in Olympia. The Legislature last year passed a bill, effective in September, requiring that districts take steps to reduce expulsions and bring kids who have been expelled back into the fold, whenever possible.

A bill introduced this session (SHB 2536) connects the dots between misbehavior and hunger. The bill, which passed the House last week 67-31, would require districts with high numbers of low-income students to implement so-called “breakfast after the bell” programs.

In most districts, breakfast is available before school starts (not after the first bell). Although available to all students, breakfast before the bell is meant to ensure that children financially eligible for free- and reduced-cost meals have a shot at what nutritionists call the most important meal of the day. But low-income kids can feel stigmatized by the arrangement, say child advocates backing the bill. Sometimes transportation is an issue … as if there weren’t already enough reasons to skip breakfast.

The bill cites evidence that school breakfast is associated with “improved outcomes” for students, including fewer discipline incidents, better attendance and improved performance on standardized tests. Washington State ranks forty-first in the nation for participation in school breakfast programs, according to the text of the bill.

The bill, now with the Senate, calls for a four-year, phased-in process for providing breakfast after the bell in “high needs” schools. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, all high needs elementary schools in the state would be required to offer some form of breakfast after the bell; the requirement would extend to all high needs schools the following years.

Schools could use whatever model best suits their student population and logistical requirements. Models proposed in the bill include, but are not limited to, breakfast in the classroom, “grab and go” breakfast, or a breakfast after first period.

An amended to the bill would allow high needs schools to obtain waivers from the requirement if they could show that their direct costs for the program, including food service staff, would exceed available revenues.

Funding would come from federal school nutrition sources and the cost to the state would be “minimal,” according to Sara Levin, of the United Way of King County, which would help with start up costs in that county, and Katie Mosehauer of Washington Appleseed, a public policy organization aimed at social justice. The Breakfast After the Bell program will cost an estimated $9.6 million per year when fully implemented.

Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, doubts the bill will make it through the Senate, at least in this version. Haigh, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, said even proponents of the bill feel there are issues inadequately addressed, including cost. There are other concerns around the logistical challenge of allowing food in classrooms and ensuring the nutritional quality of what students are eating.

Nonetheless, said Haigh, passing a law to promote wider access to breakfast in schools is something the Legislature should pursue. “We’ve got to keep working on this,” she said.

District policies call for immediate expulsion for gun in school

One person who commented on today’s story about the impact of expulsions on families said he thought expulsion was too harsh a punishment for a 9-year-old boy who brought a gun to school in February 2012, resulting in the critical injury of an 8-year-old classmate. The girl survived, but her health remains compromised, a spokeswoman for the family has said.

Here is the comment from Larry Croix and my response outlining the rights and responsibilities of school officials, students and parents in cases where students bring a gun to school. In short, most districts, under state law and their own polices, have no choice but to expel the student. Students are entitled to due process, including the right to appeal.

Larry says, “There was a lot about the 9 year old in this story that I could not fathom. I don’t want to minimize the past and future pain and suffering of the victim. That said I don’t understand how a 9 year old could be criminally guilty of anything. I thought and still think a years expulsion was wrong headed given the circumstances. Changing his school certainly, but anything beyond that was excessive and I have to wonder what they were thinking beyond avoiding having to deal with over wrought parents of other children.”

My response, “Under state law, bringing a gun to school is “grounds for” expulsion. Bremerton, like most districts, spells out in its parent handbook a policy that students who bring a gun to school will be immediately expelled.

The law says students who suspended or expelled are entitled to due process including the right to appeal (the link here is to a document posted on the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website), but schools can emergency expel a student who poses an immediate threat. The emergency expulsion, must be followed within 24-hours by written notification to parents/ guardians and converted to some other form of discipline.

So in the case of the 9-year-old, the district was bound by state law and its own policies to expel the boy. His guardian doesn’t dispute the district’s actions immediately following the shooting.”

Chris Henry, reporter

Video of Bremerton teacher shows challenge of classroom management

Note on Feb. 24: My apologies. Due to a coding error, the video did not show up when I posted it. Video should work now. Chris Henry, reporter

Today’s story in our six-part series on student discipline focuses on a Bremerton classroom, where teacher Veda Langford manages her students with a blend of compassion and discipline.

Here’s the video of Langford’s class, which posted on Day 1, in case you missed it.

Race, it’s complicated

Two students’ stories illustrate the elusive influence of race on behavior and discipline.

By Chris Henry
chenry@kitsapsun.com
360-792-9219
Educators, including top officials in Kitsap and North Mason school districts, agree that some groups of students — kids of color, those with learning disabilities and the poor — are disciplined more often and more harshly than the majority white, middle-class students.
What’s not always clear is the interplay among contributing factors that may include family dynamics, the student’s personality, mental health issues, teachers’ bias or a combination of the above.
Clearly educators, students and their parents all have their roles to play. But as these students’ stories show, it’s hard to pinpoint when, where and why behavior starts to go off track.

GOOD BOY, BAD DECISIONS
Cedric Turner was a sophomore at Central Kitsap High School when he was arrested Nov. 11, 2011, for bringing a gun to schools in Central Kitsap and North Kitsap and firing off a round at Raab Park in Poulsbo. No one was injured.
The Turner family, who are black and in the military, felt a culture shock moving to predominantly white Kitsap County, said Lapeachtriss Turner, Cedric’s mom. Cedric felt out of his element after living in more diverse communities, his mother said. A good student, socially adrift, he hooked up with some troublesome kids.
The Raab Park incident stemmed from bullying at school with racial undertones, Lapeachtriss said. Cedric got drawn in trying to defend friends in his racially mixed group. So yes, race was “a huge factor” in his getting kicked out of school, she said.
Cedric is a good boy who made bad decisions, his mother says. She excuses none of her son’s behavior. The family was frustrated, however, by what they describe as uneven support and communication from district administrators before and after the arrest. Central Kitsap School District officials won’t comment on behavior records of individual students.
Cedric’s cause was complicated by an earlier, similar firearms charge in California. In Kitsap County Superior Court, he pleaded guilty to three felony charges, including possession of a dangerous weapon at school.
Expelled from CKHS and on probation, Cedric took classes at the Kitsap Alternative Transition School, where students under court supervision can earn credits while suspended or expelled.
Cedric progressed well, but after several months, he ran away and began skipping school, violating terms of his probation. Taken back into custody, he completed his sentence in the juvenile detention center.
Cedric was sent to live with his grandmother in Georgia. He caught up by taking extra credits, first at an alternative school, later at a regular high school. But when his parents tried to move him to the North Carolina district in which they now live, his felony record dogged him, and officials were reluctant to admit him. The family has worked on an alternative plan for Cedric to complete his high school education.
All he sees, said his mom, are doors closing left and right.
“He did what he did, and he should have been punished. I’m the first one to say that,” Lapeachtriss said. “I just want us to get past all of this and move forward. I don’t want him to get punished for the rest of his life.”
TonyR1
WHAT MAKES TONY TICK?
Statistically, Tony Riojas, 18, has two strikes against him: he has learning disabilities and he is multi-cultured. His father is black, his mother is Mexican, and his stepdad is white.
Tony’s military family lived in ethnically diverse towns before moving to Kitsap County. He spent time with his father in Florida, but says his dad’s neighborhood is “ghetto,” rife with conflict. He prefers Poulsbo where his ethnicity makes him a standout.
“I love being different,” he said. “I’m pretty sure my skin color makes me who I am in Poulsbo. Everybody knows me as the black kid, so if I wasn’t the black kid, who would I be?”
Sociable, smart, athletic, Tony has been in trouble since fifth grade, his angry outbursts landing him in the principal’s office time after time. He’s been arrested twice; charges were dropped both times.
Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Tony had a specialized learning plan at North Kitsap High School that required him to follow a behavior “contract.” Therapists also diagnosed “oppositional defiance disorder,” described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as “an ongoing pattern of anger-guided disobedience, hostility, and defiant behavior toward authority figures.” The district, which declined to comment, would not recognize the condition, according to Tony’s mother, Corine Proctor.
Tony thinks race and disability might be factors for some students who get in trouble, but not for him.
“I’ll probably be the only person you will talk to who will admit to just causing trouble,” he said. “I was very hot headed. … Honestly, I didn’t care, ‘cause that was just me.’ Up until 11th grade, I didn’t care about what anybody thought or what anybody did or the consequences of my actions.”
Conflict was the norm. Tony admits using his blackness to intimidate people.
Tony continued getting in trouble on returning from Florida to Poulsbo as a senior.
“I had a past with that school,” he said. “Every little thing I did, if I was late to class they’d write me up.”
This fall, a kid from the high school, a former friend, crossed him.
“I saw him at school one day. I said, ‘Listen, if I see you off campus you will legitimately be dead,’ Tony said. And he meant it.
There was a confrontation in the Dairy Queen parking lot, and the kid reported feeling threatened. The school took it as a credible threat, and because of Tony’s lengthy discipline record, they expelled him.
Tony’s mother and stepfather reached the end of their rope and kicked him out of the house. He ended up couch surfing, wondering what to do next.
Tony has no interest in going back to the high school, but he blew off the options offered by his mom, Corine said.
She thinks she should have drawn a line in the sand years ago.
“I’m tired of this scrub life I’m living. I have no money, no job, no diploma,” Tony said. “I know now if I would have just stayed on the straight and narrow, I’d be done with school and in the Navy, going places, going abroad and having it all.”