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Elwood School Notebook: Consolidation Update, WiFi and More

Innovative foreign language programs and future plans for the middle school were all topics of discussion at the Feb. 3 Board of Ed meeting

District Consolidation Update
At the Elwood Board of Education's most recent board meeting, Trustee Andrew Kaplan asked Superintendent Peter Scordo for an update on the issue of with Elwood’s contiguous school districts. Scordo said that there has been no formal response from South Huntington, Northport, Commack, Half Hollow Hills, or Harborfields to the letter which the Elwood district had sent out in December seeking to determine interest in possible consolidation.

Spotlight on the Foreign Language Department
Thanks to the use of online resources and new technology at John Glenn High School in the form of Netbooks,  Foreign Language students are experiencing some new, challenging, and culturally enriching programs. Eileen Kelly-Gorman gave a demonstration of VoiceThread, a web program that allows students to record stories both at school and at home with little or no cost to the district.

Students at the high school are also doing recordings through the use of newly purchased Netbooks which allows for greater flexibility in classroom use. Students also engage with other high schools in live video conferences to compete against one other in Family Feud matches, and they discuss museum artifacts and cultural history with staff at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Future Plans for Elwood Middle School
A complete Wi-Fi environment, a weekly, real-time newscast run by students, and an expanded eighth grade curriculum -- these were just a few of the plans that Principal Hugh Gigante said were in the future for students at the Elwood Middle School.

Saying that it’s “not an overnight process, Gigante detailed the work involved in plans to introduce Earth Science, Integrated Algebra, and Studio Art 1 – all courses currently being offered at the high school – to the eighth grader level.  He said change would need to be made beginning with the fourth grade curriculum so that students would be prepared to take on these more rigorous classes in the eighth grade.

Gigante also discussed the social vision for the school. In addition to continuing YES (Young Elwood Students), Operation Respect, and the Mentoring Program, a team is working to develop a “sliding scale of student expectations.” This scale would take into account the emotional maturity of students as they progress from the first day of middle school through graduation. Gigante said a working plan should be ready in the next couple of months.

Class spaces will also be realigned so that grade levels are inclusive to specific areas of the building. Student schedules will also be reconfigured to allow for more time in core subject areas.

On the technology front, Wi-Fi access will be expanded to allow for the use of technology throughout the building. And a weekly, real-time newscast will be up and running within the month.

As for green initiatives, Gigante said several options to save energy costs are being explored, including the timed shutdown of district computers each day.

Upcoming Meetings
The next Board of Education meeting will take place at the Elwood Middle School on Thursday, February 17 at 7:30.

FYI February 18, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Scordo is a former assistant superintendent from Northport. He's very able to assess the fit between the two districts. He was good for Northport, fair but strong and very capable. One of the good ones who got away!

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