Published On: Thu, Mar 20th, 2008

Strong Relationship Developing Between Area Schools


LAUREL — The sky seems to be the limit for four area schools sharing staff and services.
The four schools hosted an Innovation Labs workshop in Laurel last week.
The conference was filled with enthusiam
“Four schools but one community,” –  was how one person defined the unique relationship that continues to develop among the people in the Laurel-Concord, Coleridge, Newcastle and Wynot Schools.
Over 200 people attended the first part of the workshop, which was open to the public.

At the start of the workshop a variety of areas were set up to allow everyone to see what was being offered among the four schools.
Distance Education, Webcam, Power School along with the Early Childhood, Credit Recovery and the Autism programs were some of the items featured at various areas in the school gym.
Supt. Dan Hoesing called the group together to view a video that shows how different the world is today for  students. Life for the students seems to have evolved into a paperless world, he said.
While some kids may be reading only a few books during the year they are sitting in front of a computer screen reading thousands of e-mails or doing research online. Facebook and text messaging are a normal part of their day.
“We need to create a new curve in education for our kids today,” said Hoesing. “We need to prepare our kids for college – we need to prepare them for the kind of world they will enter.”
A video featuring the Credit Recovery Program, which is a new program at the Coleridge School this year, was also shown.
The video centered around nine students from across northeast Nebraska who are taking advantage of the program which allows students who have fallen behind in school to leave the traditional classroom setting in order to catch up and graduate.
“There is a misconception that Credit Recovery or alternative education is a slack deal – it is not,” said Hoesing. “These kids complete courses in a short amount of time – it is not an easier way out.”
Hoesing said the schools need to think beyond the setting of traditional education.
“We need to re-think high school and re-connect kids to education,” Hoesing said.
The Laurel school board, administration and others in the community took the step to work along side other school districts in a concept that is new for the entire state.
The four schools that are united in an inter-local agreement for sharing started out the 2007-08 school year with three goals:
• Maintain a school in every community
• Maintain a quality education program for all students
• Operate in the most cost efficient manner possible.
Those goals are still a top priority.

Wynot Principal Rich Higgins addressed the crowd and said Wynot came aboard last year with some uncertainties.
“One year ago we had a lot of unanswered questions,” said Higgins. “We did not know where we were going.”

Higgins said the students, from the seniors down through the elementary grades, desperately wanted to keep their school open.
Higgins relayed what happened with some elementary students at the Wynot School.
“One day some fifth graders handed me a box – inside was a note,” said Higgins.
The note read:
“We earned about $13 for this school. We want to try and keep this school open. We hope this school will stay open until we graduate.”
It was signed by four fifth graders and followed by a P.S. which read: “We love this school.”

“It says it all,” said Higgins.
Not only has Wynot kept its school open there have been new opportunities for the students plus new friendships have been formed among the students in the four schools.
Shawna Wiepen, a senior at Wynot High School, said she likes having her school be involved in sharing with the other three schools.
“I have been able to take classes that had not normally been offered before. I am earning six college credits in English this year,” said Wiepen. “It has given me a chance to get to know more people.”