Brownstown adapting to changes

BROWNSTOWN

Students and staff were greeted by a few changes at the three Brownstown school buildings Tuesday as the 2017-18 school year kicked off.

Fortunately, all three principals reported a smooth day.

At the elementary school, Child Care Network is offering a Kids Klub before- and after-school program, and there is a new preschool program available through On My Way Pre-K.

Kids Klub starts at 6 a.m., and there is an after-school program until 6 p.m. The offerings include homework help, crafts and science, technology, engineering and math activities. A healthy snack also is offered during the afternoon session.

There is a $25 registration fee, and then depending on what activities students choose, the cost is $25 to $50 per week.

“Very few kids are enrolled now, but it really helps our working parents to have somewhere else to take their kids,” Principal Chrystal Street said.

The elementary has had a special education preschool for several years, but the On My Way Pre-K preschool is just beginning. There are six students enrolled.

“I am confident that once people know that it’s here and available at Brownstown that it will pick up,” Street said. “That will also transition into hopefully not as many kids needing Jump Start (a program that prepares kids for kindergarten) when school starts. We’re really looking forward to that enrollment increasing.”

Street also has challenged her staff with the theme of “Every kid needs a champion.” Students come from different situations at home, and Street said it’s important for her staff to be there for all of the kids.

“Every single kid needs somebody in their life that’s just willing to go that extra step,” she said. “We are their champions a lot of times, so we have to be in that corner for them.”

The middle school has implemented a couple of new initiatives.

One is an enrichment learning period, which will be an hour in the middle of each Wednesday devoted to teachers and students interacting in clubs based on their interests. That’s the result of a survey of students and staff in the spring.

So far, there are booster, classic television, euchre, exercising and walking, spotless (cleanup projects around the corporation’s schools), Frankenstein book and hour of code clubs.

“We feel it is important for adults to build and have and maintain positive relationships with their students,” Principal Doug McClure said. “We’re going to take a break from our normal routine going to clubs and hopefully make some positive connections with some kids.”

Also new is period aid extension, which involves students using the last five minutes of the school day double-checking all of their assignments before they head home. Teachers will put assignments into a Google Doc so they can be shared with other teachers and students.

“We stress homework a lot at the middle school, and sometimes, getting out of the door with all of your materials and belongings and things can be challenging for middle school students,” McClure said.

This also will be helpful to students who have doctor appointments in the middle of the day and return to school because they will be able to see what assignments they missed.

Parents also have been trained on how to access their child’s assignments.

“We think that five minutes could be potentially impactful for our kids and our communication with our parents just in terms of keeping those open lines,” McClure said.

The middle school also is going to be active on Twitter this year. By following @bcgrowingbrave, people will be able to check out what’s going on at the school throughout the year.

McClure also developed the motto “TRAIL of the Braves,” which stands for time, relationships, attitude, investment and learning. He said the acquisition of knowledge takes time, caring and constructive relationships, a positive and resilient attitude and a personal investment of effort on everybody’s part for learning to occur that leads to a healthy and balanced life.

At the high school, construction projects inside and outside the building were in full force over the summer and for the most part were finished by the time students returned for the new school year.

New heating, ventilation and air conditioning units have been installed, and most classrooms have new LED lighting. Work also was done in the gymnasiums, on the tennis courts and at the football stadium.

“If you would have told us when we had a tour (recently), I never thought it would have been ready, but actually, it was pretty good,” Principal Joe Sheffer said.

“I had no complaints whatsoever,” he said. “The air was working in all of the rooms. The cafeteria was great. The facilities were clean. They still have some loose ends to tie up, of course, but as far as construction, the kids were there, and nobody said a word. It was just school as normal.”

Work is wrapping up on the tennis courts and in the gymnasiums, and Sheffer said he’s hopeful they will be ready as teams begin competing next week.

“The first day at BCHS was great,” he said. “The school was great. Everybody was pleased and in good spirits, so we’re just ready for 179 more just like it.”

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.