Archive for Tuesday, December 13, 2011

First Bell: School board honors students; bomb threat means longer days ahead at Free State High School

December 13, 2011


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Lawrence school board meetings aren’t exactly the most exciting events on earth.

No news there.

But some high-achieving students did manage to liven the place up a bit Monday evening, as they stood up, heard their names called and achievements recounted before lining up to accept hearty handshakes and “good jobs” from the elected officials and Rick Doll, superintendent of the Lawrence school district.

Here’s a list of the students who were scheduled to be recognized for their collective tremendousness, most of whom attended Monday evening’s meeting at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive:

• Engineering students from Lawrence High School, as participants on four teams that placed in the top five during the Kansas University School of Engineering’s High School Design Competition: Connor Murphy, Chance Barritt, Adam Ramos and Constantine Ochs; Joe Odrowski, Jacob Pfeiffer, Brady Murrish and Josh Song; Kayla Hicks, Alesia Herd, Isaac Rinke and Kailey Wingert; and Adrian Rivera, Randy Walter, Keenan Wycoff and Zach Wustefeld.

• Students in the FFA chapter at Free State High School, who are moving on in state competitions: Kayla Gore and Wyatt Schumann.

• Members of the state champion gymnastics team at Free State High School: Grace Bartle, Haley Johnson, Hannah Moran, Annie Soderberg and Jackie Zaitz.

Board members also thanked the teachers and coaches who have helped lead them to success: Charlie Louts for the engineers, Laura Priest for the agricultural leaders, and Danielle Hayes and Jenn Pogge for the gymnasts.

I’d list all the board members, too, but they already get plenty of pub.


So, it looks like the more than 1,500 students at Free State High School will get to spend another couple minutes in class each day for the third and fourth quarters, thanks to a day of canceled classes because of a bomb threat.

The bomb threat, discovered early Dec. 1, led to a total evacuation of the school just before the bell rang for the school’s earliest classes. That meant the school day never officially began.

Students need to be in school for 1,116 hours of instruction in order to complete a year, whether that’s going from being a freshman to a sophomore or from a senior to a graduate.

But because the district had built only about two hours of cushion into the calendar for high schoolers, the canceling of school back on Dec. 1 left the Firebirds short on time: 4.81 hours, or 289 minutes.

Doll, the district’s superintendent, said that the most likely solution would be to add a couple minutes onto the end of each school day at Free State, starting Jan. 5 with the resumption of classes following winter break.

While such a schedule change isn’t the best for instruction, he said, it does make sense given the circumstances. The bomb threat affected only one school, after all, not the entire district.

“We certainly could bring the Free State High School students back another day, and we talked some about that,” Doll told board members Monday night. “But we believe, in this circumstance, that it probably makes sense to do (this).”


cato_the_elder 6 years, 3 months ago

The high school north of 15th has an FFA chapter? Never would have believed it.

Michael Stanclift 6 years, 3 months ago

When I went to school there it was surrounded by nothing but farmland. Seems logical.

Daniel Speicher 6 years, 3 months ago

Keep in mind that Free State has a ton of students from North Lawrence and areas to the North and Northeast of town that are still in Lawrence's district boundaries. All of these areas are highly agricultural. And, trust me when I say... These students know their stuff. Ms. Priest is a great teacher who has been blessed with some equally great students this year, especially. The FFA chapter ought to be applauded for their success.

--Danny Speicher

cato_the_elder 6 years, 3 months ago

If you know, have they added auto mechanics too? That used to be offered only at LHS.

mfagan 6 years, 3 months ago

I don't know why the district schedules so "tight," either. FYI: The district has one day built into the schedule for a snow day. During last night's board meeting, Rick Doll, district superintendent, noted that some other districts in the state set aside more, as in five or six. Last year, as I recall, the Lawrence district had built two days into its schedule for inclement weather. - Mark Fagan, Schools reporter

tomatogrower 6 years, 3 months ago

Cushions should be built in for snow days, but I think time lost on bomb threats should always be made up. It might make the stupid person who called in the bomb threat think twice, and it might make his buddies who thought it was funny at first, turn the creep in.

Rick Werner 6 years, 3 months ago

Here's a dumb idea. Have them go a full day on every Wednesday's and Thursday's. Not only can they make up from he bomb threat, they can get out of school a few weeks earlier. Wait!! That makes way too much sense. My bad.

Siveler 6 years, 3 months ago

Adding a couple minutes to the end of the day doesn' t make much of a difference in terms of learning. It's just a pointless way to make up the hours missed, as it does not provide enough time each day to make up the lesson that was missed due to the cancelation.

mfagan 6 years, 3 months ago

Rick Doll, district superintendent, acknowledges this, and readily admits that this move -- adding a few minutes at the beginning or end of each day -- won't make much of a difference, if any, in terms of instruction. Administrators had considered bringing back all Free State students for an extra day of school, Doll said, but opted against it. - Mark Fagan, Schools reporter

Irenaku 6 years, 3 months ago

who was responsible for the bomb threat?

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