Washington schools face changes for 2008-09

Donelle Pardee Whiting

When students and teachers return for the 2008-09 school year, they will face changes for the better.

Washington Community High School

With the addition of Five Points Washington to the community, high school students have been able to stage performances in the Caterpillar Performing Arts Center.

The new theater allowed the performing arts department to put on productions using a state-of-the-art accoustic shell and up-to-date sound system.

Audiences were treated to new comfortable seats as opposed to bleacher seating in the gym at the school.

In addition to continuing performances in the theater, the high school will now have access to an indoor competition pool.

Superintendent Dr. Jim Dunnan said WCHS will have girls and boys swim teams for the first time.

In the past, the high school would sponsor swimmers in regional and sectional swim meets.

However, because of a lack of an indoor pool, they would have to find winter swim teams elsewhere in order to compete in regular meets.

The girls swim season begins in August, with the first meet scheduled Sept. 9.

The boys season will start sometime in November, with the first meet scheduled for Dec. 11.

At this time, both teams will have three home meets.

Dunnan added that first and seventh period PE classes will add a swim unit as part of the curriculum.

Other changes at the high school include new lights for both the football and baseball fields.

Thanks to a donation by Brian and Kyle Wisher, the school was able to replace the existing lights at the football field.

Dunnan said the new lights are three times as bright.

Because the old poles had to be removed, the school board is unsure what they want to do with the old lights.

At a previous meeting, board members discussed using the old football stadium lights for the soccer fields.

However, they tabled making a decision until they could research what would be in the best interest of the school and neighboring residents.

The Wishers also donated lights for the baseball field, allowing for more options in scheduling.

Dunnan said this is another first for the school.

As with any school year, WCHS also has staff and faculty changes.

Becky Liescheidt will take over as the English department chair from Karen Stevens, who stepped down to take the position of assistant dean of students.

Dunnan said it was a necessary step with the recent increase in students.

Stevens will help with administrative duties, which will include evaluation of faulty members and supervision at school events.

Ongoing projects for the high school include evaluating the possibility of increasing the amount of bleacher seating at the football field and the ongoing study on possible remodeling and expansion of the school itself.

Dunnan said there will be a special board meeting Monday to meet with the architectural firm in charge of conducting a needs and wants assessment of the school.

District 52

District 52 superintendent John Tignor said the biggest change students will see upon returning to school will be new baseball and softball diamonds behind Washington Middle School.

Previously, both teams would play at the fields behind Lincoln Grade School.

Although the fields are not 100 percent complete, Tignor said students are currently using them for practice. The fields will be ready for game play at the start of school, he added.

The main things still needing to be completed are concrete pads in the dugouts, new roofs for the dugouts and setting up the scoreboards and foul posts.

“The fields themselves are more or less done,” Tignor said.

Students at LGS will see some new faces, as some teachers have left and new ones were hired.

Central Grade School

Although Central Grade School students will have a newly expanded gym, the kindergarten-through-second-grade building will not be completed until fall 2009, superintendent Chad Allaman said.

Because of recent population growth, Central has had to expand to accommodate the influx of new students and to stop its reliance on portable classrooms.

K-3 principal Brian Hoelscher said there are no new programs in the works at CGS because of the building renovations and construction.

However, he said, he expects there will be new programs in the works for next year.

Allaman said the school board is currently in the process of reviewing its misison, values and plans to include district stakeholders in the process.

District 50

Students at both Beverly Manor School and John L. Hensey School will experience a new technology explosion at the school.

Superintendent Susan Dudley said both school will not only have WiFi access, but will also have all new computers.

“What I do for one, I do for both,” she said.

Teachers will all have a wireless laptop for their use, allowing them to do more teaching with technology.

All students will have access to more than 300 computers.

In addition to every classroom at both schools having new computers, there will be new computer labs.

The library at each school will have about 30 computers for student use.

“We are really taking technology by the horns,” Dudley said, adding they also expanded the teaching lab at Beverly Manor.