Archive for Thursday, March 17, 2011

First Bell: Keith Diaz Moore chats today; junior highs still need ‘new’ names; LHS grad earns German military medal

March 17, 2011


A few education-oriented items from around the area, and beyond:

Keith Diaz Moore will be in The News Center later this morning to answer questions about his plans for schools.

At 11 a.m., visit to participate in our online chat with Diaz Moore, an associate professor and associate dean of graduate studies at Kansas University's School of Architecture, Planning & Design.

He's one of nine people campaigning for four available seats on the Lawrence school board, and he'll be the fourth candidate to sit in and answer questions live.

I'll be here, moderating the chat. That means posting the questions that you ask for him to answer. You can submit questions from now up through the end of the chat, which will be expected to last an hour.

To ask a question, just follow the links that are posted alongside this story. You can send in questions for future chats, too, or go back to read transcripts of previous chats.

The general election is April 5.


The Lawrence school board will conduct a formal public hearing March 28 to help determine whether to close Wakarusa Valley School next year, one of the consensus — and certainly contentious — recommendations forwarded last month by the Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force.

That promises to gather a crowd that night at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

No word yet on whether the meeting agenda will include other recommendations that have drawn plenty of attention for different reasons: Recommended names for the district’s four junior high schools, buildings that are set to become middle schools July 1.

Board members, on a 4-3 vote, decided to pursue new names for the schools. They had hoped to receive recommendations for names that would be different from the directional nature of the existing names.

Rick Doll, district superintendent, has said that he would expect to receive formal recommendations from school principals “sometime around spring break,” which is next week. And principals of the four schools already have said their school communities would prefer to retain the roots of their building names:

• South Junior High School would become South Middle School.

• Southwest Junior High School would become Southwest Middle School.

• West Junior High School would become West Middle School.

Only Central Junior High School has offered a different tack, supporting the incorporation of the building’s original name — Liberty Memorial High School — in whatever comes up next.

The recommendation forwarded by the school’s Site Council Committee: “Central and Liberty be combined such as Central Liberty Middle School, Liberty Central Middle School, (or) Central Middle School, Liberty Memorial Building.”

We’ll see if that recommendation comes up for approval March 28 — that’s the first meeting after spring break — or, more likely, sometime in April.


How’s this for military proficiency...

Paul Bender, a graduate of Lawrence High School, managed to:

• run 100 meters.

• run 1,000 meters.

• run 3,000 meters.

• swim 200 meters.

• complete a shot-put throw and long jump.

• shoot a 9 mm pistol.

• complete a 12-kilometer road march.

That sounds challenging enough, but by meeting established times and other performance criteria for all such events — in full combat uniform for the road march, no less — Bender earned the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency.

Bender, a junior studying geography at Kansas University, earned the gold badge during a two-day competition earlier this month at Pittsburg State University, where cadets from ROTC units at Kansas University and other regional schools were competing.

Overseeing the competition was German Army Sgt. Maj. Matthias Lueck, who bestowed proficiency badges to 38 cadets who completed the events within established standards. In all, 68 cadets participated.

“All of the cadets who earned the gold badge are now authorized to wear the badge on their uniforms for the rest of their careers,” said Maj. Aaron Cornett, executive officer for Army ROTC at KU. “It is a foreign award, but one that is authorized for wear on the U.S. Army uniform.”


6 years, 9 months ago

how about you save some money and don't change the names at all!

Take_a_letter_Maria 6 years, 9 months ago

I've seen posters challenge you before Mark. I've even done it. Since you haven't taken up the challenge thrown to you, or you weren't capable of figuring out the answer, I did the work for you. There are 91 schools in the state that are still using the title of Junior High with grades of 7/8, 6/7/8 or 5/6/7/8. NOW, since I've done that work for you, maybe you can ask the question again about WHY we need to spend money to change the names of the schools at all.

mfagan 6 years, 9 months ago

Hello, Take_a_letter_Maria. Thanks for the post. But as I'm sure you understand, the challenge is not mine. It's the school board's. Remember: The board voted, 4-3, to seek new names -- or, at least, recommendations so that they could consider approving new names. (Mary Loveland had said she didn't like the "directional" nature of the names, which she considers inaccurate these days; Vanessa Sanburn noted that she's like to see some more creative options; several noted that if the names were to be changed, that this would be the appropriate time, because of all the other changes going on, especially with a full two-thirds of the student populations at each school turning over next year.) That's some of what those four board members were saying, anyway. Leading up to that earlier board vote, of course, the principals at each school already had indicated support for changing the names only so far as to shift from "Junior High" to "Middle School." That's what the administration forwarded to the board for consideration. At that time, administrators had said that the district likely wouldn't spend any "extra" money next year to implement any change: Stationery would be used until it was all gone. Only then would the names be changed, as stationery was reordered through the district's own printing operations. Existing uniforms for sports would remain in use, up until new ones would be purchased in accordance with the same, regular replacement schedule. The idea: No "new" money would be spent on uniforms. * Left a bit uncertain is whether the district would spend money to change the signs on the schools themselves. That certainly would cost money, but -- as you might imagine -- such changes would not be necessary, at least not right away. The message: The names of the schools would change, even if the signs out front might not, or at least not right away. I haven't checked in on this, but there may be a requirement to publish a legal notice to implement a name change. This would be an additional cost, I'd imagine, and therefore one that could be avoided altogether if the names did not, in fact, change. (Then again, as I understand it, the district does have to officially "close" the schools, then reopen them, to implement the shift in grade levels, so perhaps all this could be implemented using that single notice. Who knows?) My point: Yes, it would be a change to rename the schools. But it wouldn't necessarily have to cost anything (other than, perhaps, the cost of a legal notice or other such regulatory items). The expense would come with putting up new signs, repainting gym floors, etc., which officials already have indicated that they are reluctant -- or even unwilling -- to do, at least early on Your point, as I understand it: Why bother changing the names at all? The answer to that challenge will be answered when the board considers the naming recommendations, whenever that may be. Hope this helps... - Mark

Take_a_letter_Maria 6 years, 9 months ago

Mark - my point is the reasoning behind the change is invalid. We've been spoonfed a line of BS that there is a fundamental difference between Middle Schools and Junior High Schools. This is simply not true, at least not the way it is being presented to us right now. What they are describing as the difference has already been done at least twice previously in the JH settings that exist now. The other reason given for the change is that Lawrence is the only district in the state that still has Junior Highs. While it might be true that we are the last district to have 7/8/9 in the same building, I just pointed out there are 91 other schools (I didn't count the individual districts which is obviously less than 91) that still use Junior High instead of Middle School. The challenge is for you to get to the real reason for the change - which apparently right now is nothing more than BECAUSE WE CAN - since the two primary reasons we've been given are bunk.

GMom05 6 years, 9 months ago

I think you have great points! Have you written a letter to the editor or your own emails to board members?

Take_a_letter_Maria 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes, I have written to the board, no not to the editor. The one reply I received from a board member was rather condescending and said that I just didn't understand the difference between middle schools and junior high schools. News flash for that board member, I may not be an educator, but I am from a family of educators (Mom, Dad and three sisters) so I know.

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