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Schools

Local mom claims Piedmont schools violating federal law

James White image

James White

Melanie Berry image

Melanie Berry

By Tim Farley
News Editor
Melanie Berry wants Piedmont school officials to do their job and help her teenage son with problems stemming from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

After years of dealing with the district’s Special Services Director Lynda White and Superintendent James White, Berry was fed up with the lack of action regarding her son and daughter, both of whom require special services for their educational disabilities.

In June, Berry filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging Piedmont school administrators discriminated against her eighth-grade son because of his disability. Berry claims her son’s ADHD “substantially limits his ability to concentrate, think and communicate.”

Superintendent White said the district has not received official notification of a civil rights complaint.

Berry’s son is intelligent and has a high IQ. He’s enrolled in Advanced Placement classes and scores high on tests. He’s also been on the Academic Team since fourth grade.

“His working memory is at the top of the charts, but his processing speed is at the bottom of the charts,” Berry said. “His brain is working so fast he can retain it all, but then he tries to write it out and the brakes go on.” Read more →

Report cards show progress

Piedmont School's report card

By Tim Farley
News Editor
Piedmont Superintendent James White doesn’t put much faith in state-issued report cards for individual schools.

It’s not because the high school dropped from an A to a B or that Piedmont Elementary went from an A to a B+. In fact, there were mixed results this year with Stone Ridge Elementary elevating its grade slightly while others like Piedmont Intermediate remained steady.

“We’re about in line with what it’s been in past years,” White said. “It’s really hard to put much stock in them because of how they’re adjusted from year to year. They’re nice grades to get but it’s not necessarily any goals we’ve set.”

Instead, Piedmont school officials would rather focus on graduation rates, attendance figures and ACT scores.

“We can monitor each of those every year and see if we improved or not,” White said.

School officials also like to brag about national honors such as the Blue Ribbon Award received recently by Northwood Elementary as one of the top schools in the country. White, school principal Lisa Campbell and four teachers traveled to Washington, D.C. earlier this month to accept the award. Read more →

Punt Pass Kick Challenge offered by Great Plains Bank

Punt, Pass, Kick Challenge imageGreat Plains Bank’s Piedmont location is bringing the Punt, Pass, Kick Challenge to all home Wildcat football games.

Here’s how it works:

  • Wildcat fans sign-up to be entered into the drawing to be the Punt, Pass, Kick participant
  • Sign-up through the online registration system
  • Must be 18 years of age or older to enter
  • Punt, Pass, Kick participants will be drawn at 12 p.m. the day of all home games
  • The selected participant will be notified by a Great Plains Bank representative
  • The selected participant will join the Great Plains Bank staff at the 50 yard line during half-time. The participant will then punt the ball from the 50 yard line, then pass the ball from the spot the punt lands and then kick a field goal from the spot the pass lands.
  • If the participant makes the field goal, he/she will receive $500
  • If the participant does not make the field goal, he/she will receive a $25 to open a Free Rewards Checking account with Great Plains Bank. If the participant already has a Free Rewards Checking account, the $25 will be deposited into that account.

Rules and Regulations:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older to enter
  • Online registration will be available the week of the game until 12 p.m. the day of each home game, at which time a name will be randomly selected.
  • The selected participant will be notified by a Great Plains Bank representative and given instructions on where to meet for the challenge.
  • Great Plains Bank employees and household family members are not eligible.
  • Participants who win the $500 will be required to visit the Piedmont Branch, 12001 NW Expressway, to receive their prize money. Prize money must be claimed within one full week from teh date the prize was won.
  • Participants are required to complete a photo release, allowing Great Plains Bank to use photo, video and name in online, print and social media posts/articles.

Board recognizes state competitors

peggy_academic_team

Scholars – Members of the Piedmont Middle School Academic Team which  placed fourth in the State Competition are, front left to right, are Brooke Heister, Stormey Warner and Tobias Johnson, who was named to the All State Tournament Team.  Back row left  to right, Alex Phan, Brice DiGiacinto. Sydney Deily and Tyce Honer.  Not pictured is is team member Jacob Shropshire, team member, and team coach Nikki Lujan.

Peggy Ormson
Correspondent
Students from Piedmont’s High School and Middle School competing in state competition were given special recognition during the April Piedmont Board of Education.

A large group of students, their parents and families, were in attendance for the recognition of Piedmont students who have distinguished themselves in state competition.

Katherine Stroh, Oklahoma Academic All-State and National Merit Finalist, and Ann Elizabeth Tebow, Oklahoma Academic All-Stater were recognized by the school board, along with the High School Academic Team, consisting of Ashley Moore, Mollie Wilkinson, Wesley Dorn, Blake Thomas, Heath Urton, Jennifer Fallon and Nick Henderson. The PHS Ascademic Team is coached by Mike Eaton, head coach, and Claire Piersol assistant coach, The team finished fourth at the state competition. Read more →

Sharon Morgan named as a finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year

sharon-morgan

Sharon Morgan

Sharon Morgan

Piedmont school district Teacher of the Year Sharon Morgan has been named one of 12 finalists for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

State Superintendent of Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced Oklahoma’s 12 Teacher of the Year finalists at the EngageOK Conference on Thursday, July 9 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

For the past three years, Morgan has taught first grade at Piedmont Elementary School. She has been teaching for a total of 17 years.

“These teachers demonstrate incredible talent, creativity and dedication. They represent the best-of-the best, and that is not an easy achievement when you consider how many amazing teachers our state has in all of its schools,” Hofmeister said. “I am honored to recognize our finalists, and I look forward to collaborating with them and sharing their successes with all of Oklahoma.”

The winner will be announced Aug. 25.

Piedmont Elementary third, fourth graders get real Pals

Piedmont Elementary PALS

High School student council members
mentor, tutor elementary students

A program at the elementary school matching up high school student council members as tutors and mentors with Piedmont Elementary third and fourth graders is in its second year this school year and appears to be paying big dividends.

This is the second year for the program, known as the P. A. L. program P.A.L. stands for Piedmont’s Awesome Leaders.

The program is collaboration between Piedmont Elementary and Piedmont High School where every Tuesday, 24 Student Council members from Alissa Antwine and Kathy Davis’ class come to Piedmont Elementary to mentor and tutor third and fourth grade students.

Mrs. Antwine and Mrs. Davis train and prepare their high school students to work with elementary age children. Read more →

School board filing begins Dec. 1

By Traci Chapman

A Piedmont School Board seat will be up for grabs in a Feb. 10 election, and the filing period for candidates is rapidly approaching.

Jerrod Moser

Anyone wishing to file for the seat – for Office No. 5 – must do so between Dec. 1 and Dec. 3. Filing ends at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, Canadian County Election Board Secretary Wanda Armold said. All candidate filings must be completed at the election board office, located at 200 S. Bickford in El Reno, Armold said.

“The Board of Education positions at stake will be filled at the annual school election scheduled for Feb. 10, 2015,” Armold said. “If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the total votes cast in this election, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes will meet in a runoff election on Tuesday, April 7, 2015.

“If only one candidate files an election will not be necessary,” she said.

Jerrod Moser currently holds Piedmont’s Office No. 5 seat. It was unclear whether he intended to file for the seat again this term as of press time.

Piedmont Board of Education meetings are held the second Monday of every month beginning at 6 p.m. in the Piedmont Administration Annex, located at 723 Piedmont Road. Read more →

Piedmont schools receive A’s, B’s on A-F Report Card

By Matt Montgomery
editor@piedmontnewsonline.com

The Piedmont School District was one of 77 districts statewide that received all A’s and B’s on its A-F Report Card from the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Stone Ridge Elementary received the highest score of Piedmont’s seven school sites, with an A+.

The other Piedmont school site grades were as follows: Piedmont Elementary – B; Piedmont Primary – N/A; Northwood Elementary – A; Piedmont Intermediate-B; Piedmont Middle School – B+; Piedmont High School – A.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) released the 2014 A-F Report Card for public schools statewide last week. In this third year of A-F, more than one-third of Oklahoma schools improved their overall score, with 289 receiving A’s. Unfortunately, this year also saw a rise in F schools with 200, or 11 percent, as compared to 163 in 2013.

Mandated by state law, the school grades provide parents, students, businesses and communities with a clear, easily understood snapshot of how local schools are performing.

“The A-F report cards are vital to ensuring accountability. Parents and communities must know what schools are excelling and what schools need additional help,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi. “In so doing, Oklahoma educators and schools can build on successes and focus on particular challenges.”

The 2014 school grades are as follows:
A — 289 (16.1 percent)
B — 473 (26.4 percent)
C — 504 (28.1 percent)
D — 299 (16.7 percent)F — 200 (11.1 percent)
No report card — 30 (1.6 percent)

While the A-F calculation essentially remained the same from last year, there were a few modifications.
The Piedmont School District received an A on its 2013 grade.

High school End-of-Instruction (EOI) tests taken by middle school students only counted for middle school and not high school, as previously had been the case.

Moreover, middle school students taking an EOI in math were not required to also take the grade-level math assessment.

In contrast to 2013, the A-F calculation this year factored in advanced coursework and year-to-year growth for high school bonus categories, such as graduation rates.

Eleven districts with more than one school site received all A’s: Amber-Pocasset, Thomas-Fay-Custer Unified, Arapaho-Butler, Burlington, Freedom, Lomega, Mountain View-Gotebo, Reydon, Ripley, Tushka and Waynoka.

Fifteen single-site districts received an A: Banner, Bishop, Cottonwood, Flower Mound, McCord, Moffett, Oakdale, Pioneer, Deborah Brown Community School (Tulsa), Dove Science Academy (Oklahoma City), Dove Science Academy Elementary School (Oklahoma City), Harding Charter Preparatory High School (Oklahoma City), Harding Fine Arts Academy (Oklahoma City), KIPP Reach College Preparatory (Oklahoma City) and Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences.

Seventy-seven districts received entirely A’s or B’s.

Barresi emphasized that the A-F grades enhance accountability and are not a punitive measure.

“This is about empowering parents and students,” said Barresi. “These grades do not tell the entire story of a school, nor are they intended to. But they do provide an important and concise look at how a school is performing in terms of academic achievement.”

Piedmont High School welcomes new band director

Laura Ketchum

By Matt Montgomery
editor@piedmontnewsonline.com

When Darnell Zook resigned as Piedmont High School’s band director earlier this year, administrators found his replacement not from Oklahoma, but from Michigan.

Laura Ketchum, of Kalamazoo, Mich., will lead the multi-state champion Pride of Piedmont Marching Band this year.

She graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, and earned her Master’s Degree from Southern Oregon University. Her B.A. is in music education and her master’s is in conducting.
Ketchum brings a lot of experience to the table, having taught music at several schools in Michigan, including Brandon High School, Big Rapids High School and Flushing High School. She was head band director at Flushing High School. That school had a competitive marching band comparable to the Pride of Piedmont. That school is slightly larger than Piedmont High School. Read more →

Piedmont High school construction nearing completion

Matt Montgomery/Gazette
Construction of the addition to Piedmont High School is nearing completion. The facade of the school is virtually complete. This view is from the south end, entrance to the school.

By Matt Montgomery
editor@piedmontnewsonline.com

Summer is almost over and school is almost back in session, but when students from Piedmont High School return to school Aug. 19, they will see a larger main building.

Over the summer, construction crews have been hard at work to complete the additions to Piedmont High School.

Those additions include a secured entrance and attendance office in the front of the building, two additional classrooms and restrooms, and a physical education gymnasium, wrestling room, restrooms, locker rooms and training room.

“This much needed construction will meet a number of pressing needs as our enrollment continues to increase at a rapid pace,” the district wrote in an update earlier this year. “First, this project includes an expansion of the current cafeteria space. With an expected enrollment of almost 900 students in the high school next year, this added space will be extremely beneficial.”

Piedmont Schools Superintendent James White said Tuesday, the construction isn’t fully completed but is almost there.

“Construction at the high school is still ongoing, but it is in the final stages,” White said. “The classroom and restroom addition is complete, and the flooring is being installed in the cafeteria today (Tuesday). There will be a few finishing touches taking place after school resumes; however it won’t be a hindrance to the school day.”

The gymnasium section of the addition was much needed in addition to more classroom space, since the district has had to bus their student-athletes to Piedmont Elementary for many years. Read more →

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