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New School Safety Measures in Place

At CCSD, the health and safety of our students is of the utmost importance to the administration and staff. We have and always will go to great lengths to provide our students with a safe and secure learning environment, and this year is no exception. Although intruder incidents are rare, several updates have been made to the district’s safety plans to ensure our students and staff are safe in the event of an incident.

This year, we are partnering with the ALICE Training Institute (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) to better prepare our staff in responding to a potentially dangerous situation. ALICE is considered the number one active shooter civilian response training for all organizations and is widely used by schools across the country. In fact, more than 5,500 K-12 school districts have used the ALICE training method. Early this year, CCSD staff will participate in online response courses and active shooter trainings, and the overall district plan for safety will be evaluated by the ALICE Institute. At the conclusion of the training, the district will become ALICE Certified.

“We’re really looking forward to implementing the ALICE training program,” says Aaron Brown, director of secondary services and safety for CCSD. “The safety of our students and staff is the highest priority for the district. It’s imperative we give our staff the tools and training they need to respond safely in the unlikely event of an unwanted intruder.”

In addition to implementing the ALICE program, the district is focused on making all buildings more secure by installing state-of-the-art camera systems, a new key card entry system, and placing full-time resource officers and assigned local law enforcement officers in every building. In addition, two new initiatives focused on feedback from students and parents have been established.

“We want students and parents to feel safe through added security measures and training, but we also want to give them the resources they need to feel like they have agency in school safety as well,” says Brown. “That’s why we’ve created the Student Safety Council and implemented a Safe School Helpline.”

The Student Safety Council was created to give students a voice in our school safety protocols by providing feedback to the administration on current plans and identifying areas for improvement. The Safe School Helpline gives parents and students the opportunity to anonymously communicate their safety concerns, like bullying or threats, to district administration. Students and parents can call 1-800-418-6423 ext. 359 or go online at www.safeschoolhelpline.com.

For more information about district safety plans and contact procedures, contact Aaron Brown at aaron.brown@ccsd.us.  

Students Learn Valuable Skills Through STEM

It’s critical for students to have a well-rounded education so they are best suited for any career they choose to pursue. In fact, a 2018 study by Global Jobs Report concluded that nearly three out of four children entering primary school will hold jobs that don’t currently exist. To ensure students are getting the skills they need to one day hold those positions, Chillicothe City School District developed and implemented a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program for students in kindergarten through second grade. Last year, the district applied for STEM designation and quickly received it – a major accomplishment considering the program was established only two years prior. Now, the primary school has one of only four K-2 STEM programs in central Ohio.

CCSD STEM staff chose to integrate the program into schools with grades K-2 so that students wouldn’t have to wait until high school to be introduced to STEM curriculum. The goal is for students to be well-acquainted with STEM by the time they reach high school, as the curriculum is developed to immerse students in the program on a daily basis.

“One area of focus we’ve implemented in students’ day-to-day learning is an engineering program called ‘Adventures in Innovation,’” says Dana Letts, STEM specialist. “All students in grades K-2 are given a special notebook to use for their lessons and are taught how to use steps in the engineering design process to solve problems written about popular children’s storybooks. We’re always working to find new, creative ways to keep students engaged in STEM.”

Another student-favorite is the Muddy Boots and Backpacks environmental science program. The K-6 program was established in partnership with the Ross County Parks District, allowing students to have free access to all park properties. Students learn how to conduct research and have the opportunity go on expeditions in search of answers to their questions.

“In our early introduction to environmental science, students study ‘mini beasts,’ which are insects, worms and spiders,” says Heather Tarlton, STEM facilitator. “They learn general information about mini beasts in kindergarten, dive into more detail in first grade and go on to focus specifically on pollinators by second grade. Building upon previous years’ lessons and utilizing hands-on education, makes students enthusiastic for what they’ll learn moving forward.”

In addition to fundamental STEM lessons that are integrated into students’ everyday curriculums, the district has also developed VOICE (Variety of Individualized Choices in Education) lessons. Students are asked to vote for subjects they want to learn more about, such as zoology or botany, giving them influence and ownership in what they learn. The most popular subjects are added to the curriculum, while the topics with fewer votes are still taught through smaller units that students can choose to participate. VOICE allows students to be inquisitive and explore their interests, so when they join the workforce someday, they will hopefully know where their passions lie.  

Letts and Tarlton are excited to see how the STEM program evolves and impacts students in the future. They hope students will take more risks, see failure as an opportunity and invest in their own learning, skills that are just as important as the core curriculum areas outside of STEM.

“In five years, we hope to be the model for STEM programs at other schools in the area,” says Letts. “Before we implemented our program, we were in a STEM desert – meaning there weren’t any districts with that designation between Columbus and Cincinnati. We want to be able to give our kids, and kids in surrounding areas, a cutting-edge education.”

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New School Safety Measures in Place
Students Learn Valuable Skills Through STEM