SMCSC board honors district contributors

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PENDLETON — South Madison Community Schools presented Academic Spotlight Awards Thursday, Nov. 17, where the some students and staff from Pendleton Heights Middle School took center stage.

PHMS Principal Dan Joyce took a moment to thank a community partner, Pendleton Planning and Zoning Coordinator Rachel Christenson.

Joyce thanked Christenson for her leadership in helping obtain grant money to get the Safe Routes to School project off the ground. Through her work on the project, students can now walk on sidewalks where before they would have been walking on the street.

“Rachel continues to work on projects that will positively affect our students,” Joyce said. “Most recently, she has begun the process of gathering community partners to establish a master plan for walkers and bicyclists in our community. It’s easy to see why Rachel Christenson is such a valuable resource for PHMS and our community.”

Joyce then honored six students, all eighth-graders, for their strong character. The students were among many who were nominated by teachers, who then voted on the candidates.

Logan Bollinger (Caring), Jack Hudson (Citizenship), Ashton Newkirk-Carr (Respect), Jaraco Watson (Responsibility), and Joel Gaar and Hannah Tisdale (Trust) were awarded certificates by Joyce, who read comments from teachers commending the students for their behavior.

Special education substitute teacher and seveth-grade volleyball coach Elizabeth Reed, a 2011 graduate of PHHS, was also honored by Joyce with the Above and Beyond award.

“Both jobs can be difficult ones,” Joyce said. “But her patience with students and student-athletes creates a positive atmosphere in the classroom and on the court. What we appreciate most about having Elizabeth at PHMS is the cheerful and professional manner in which she presents herself.”

Joyce then spent a few moments going through the extensive accomplishments of PHMS over the last year. In athletics, the cheerleading squad won its fifth straight state championship, and the sports teams won three Hoosier Heritage Conference and five Madison County titles. Students volunteered more than 5,000 hours in the community and raised nearly $6,000 for charity. Both the honor and symphonic bands were awarded a gold rating by the Indiana State School Music Association, and the school has added a French club.

In other business:

• ISTEP results were released by the state Thursday, Nov. 17, and while the scores statewide were down about 2 percent, SMCSC did well compared to the rest of Indiana and Madison County.

In the language portion of the test, SMCSC students passed at 7.2 percent higher rate than the rest of Indiana, compared to 2.2 percent higher for the math section. Districtwide, 54.8 percent of students passed both sections, which was also 3.2 percent higher than the state average. Fifty students posted a perfect score of 650, the most ever for SMCSC, and assistant superintendent Sandra Hudson pointed out that the district’s third- and seventh-graders scored very well against the state by comparison.

“Overall, we’re pleased that our averages exceeded the state average,” she said.

•  The awards continued to roll in for WEEM, the Pendleton Heights High School student-run radio station. Program Director Zoe Dwiggins and Audrey Hosier were given the John Drury Award from Columbia College in Chicago, the top award for radio drama. This regional award qualifies them for the national competition, which takes place after the first of the year.