The 2018-19 school year is in the books.
Across the New Albany-Plain Local School District, we saw tremendous learning and growth, and we have much to celebrate as we fulfill our district purpose, "to create a culture of accountability that achieves the best academic and developmental outcomes for each student."
Nearly 343 teachers, 266 support-staff members, 34 administrators, five school board members, more than 10,000 parents and our community have partnered to increase achievement, growth and well-being for more than 5,000 students this past school year.
We graduated a senior class of 395 students, with six National Merit Scholarship Program finalists, 22 commended scholars, 48 student athletes who committed to playing interscholastic athletics at the next level and more than $3.3 million in scholarships to support higher education. Eight of our graduates also committed to serve our country in a military branch. The class of 2019 is the highest-achieving class to graduate from New Albany High School to date.
New Albany Middle School also excelled.
Academically, our students rocked the state tournament for Power of the Pen by earning second place in the state, four Best of Round awards and two Best of the Best awards, with students' writings published in the "Book of Winners." Students competed and ranked in Science Olympiad, FIRST Lego League, Ohio Model United Nations and Math Counts.
Athletically, New Albany Middle School students represented the state and community on ESPN in the Great Lakes Regional Little League Baseball Tournament and were champions on and off the court or field.
Band, choir and orchestras earned superior ratings, and student artists earned Gold and Silver Key awards in the annual Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
The middle school earned a School Spirit Award from LifeCare Alliance for our students' and parents' participation in the Meals on Wheels program. Students also raised more than $2,700 to support a student and his family battling cancer, donated more than 3,500 food items and raised an additional $1,604 in the annual Pennies For Poultry drive.
We witnessed the ingenuity of 361 fourth-graders as they brainstormed, developed, marketed and sold their products at the annual Entrepreneur Day. They raised more than $19,000 for nine charities or events selected by students.
Additionally, fifth- and sixth-grade students excelled during the science fair to receive awards of excellence and superior ratings from the state of Ohio, while New Albany Intermediate School received the Central District Science Day School Award.
The fifth-grade choir also took first place at the elementary level at the Music in the Parks competition at Kings Island.
It was a busy year at New Albany Intermediate School, with a one-to-one technology initiative, implementation of new "College Preparatory Mathematics" curriculum, as well as "Units of Study in Writing" curriculum across the building.
We proudly celebrate other accomplishments of our students and staff members.
For a third year, we will achieve a 100% passage rate on the Ohio Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
With support from the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts and our PTO, first-graders continued our tradition of performing "The Carnival of the Animals."
Second-graders learned more about science through hands-on learning with COSI on Wheels.
Lastly, our third-graders shared their musical talents with performances this spring that will become a new tradition at New Albany Primary School.
The New Albany Early Learning Center welcomed nearly 500 preschool and kindergarten students for the 2018-19 school year. With hard work and dedication, the preschool staff and administration earned a 5-star quality rating, the highest rating possible with the Ohio Department of Education for the preschool program. This program continues to align curriculum and assessment work with a full implementation of the Bridges in Mathematics program next school year to align with a K-5 initiative. The kindergarten program continues to prepare students for the transition to the primary building ,with an emphasis on the Bridges math program, Fundations and a pilot for writing. The kindergarten team will introduce the "Calkins Units of Writing" curriculum during the 2019-20 school year to align fully with grades 1-5.
We celebrated amazing achievements in academics, fine arts, performing arts and athletics as our talented students excelled in band, choir, orchestra, theater, visual arts and 28 interscholastic and club sport teams. "Once on This Island," "Footloose," "Singin' in the Rain" and "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" allowed our middle and high school theater students to shine on stage. Students' participation in activities beyond the classroom enriches lives, enhances school culture and builds community, while also increasing academic achievements.
We expanded our well-being initiative to empower a caring community with resources that help maximize the mental and physical well-being of each student. We partnered with local, state and national experts to implement age-appropriate programs to measure improved developmental outcomes for students.
We implemented the R Factor training for students and families to build upon our culture by instilling common language and behavior expectations necessary to promote achievement, growth and well-being. We challenged students to understand the power of their "R" (response) when navigating "E's" (events) to create desired "O's" (outcomes). Our efforts to infuse E + R = O into our daily school culture and lives will continue next school year.
The school board and administration continue to search for additional cost savings to benefit our taxpayers. We reduced fiscal 2019 expenditures by more than $1 million. And we are advocating for legislators to make fair-funding changes in the unconstitutional public-school funding formula used in Ohio.
Summer is upon us and it is a well-earned opportunity to pause, reflect, vacation, rejuvenate and play. The giant yellow taxis are on break until the first day of school for grades 1-12 on Aug. 15.
Until then, unplug, read a great book, catch a game, put on your helmet and take a bike ride, go for a walk, run, hike, blow bubbles, skip rope, draw, reconnect, chase butterflies, go fishing and take time to enjoy the sunshine and the occasional raindrops as you watch out for children running around our neighborhoods.
Finally, thank you to the faculty, staff, administrators, PTOs, booster organizations, parents, board members and community for the efforts to support the incredible students of New Albany-Plain Local during the 2018-19 school year. You are appreciated.
Michael Sawyers is superintendent of the New Albany-Plain Local School District.