THE RAPTOR | Issue 9-10
A NEWSLETTER FOR THE NORTH FAYETTE VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL COMMUNITY
What the Heck is a Hackathon?
On April 15 two teachers and fifteen students from NFVHS will travel to Keystone AEA to participate in a “Hackathon” facilitated by students associated with the Iowa BIG North program. The Iowa BIG North program includes a consortium of schools that includes Osage, New Hampton, Charles City, Ruud-Rockford-Marble Rock, and Turkey Valley. Students in this community base program partner with businesses and organizations on projects. In essence, the business or organization is the client.
The Hackathon is an activity that involves the students in BIG going through a series of exercises where they come up with “hacks" or projects. NFV students that go to Keystone AEA will learn how the process works and participate in it to get a sense of whether or not this would be a process that could be adopted and implemented in our district. The heart of the process is to empower the students to identify and take ownership of projects that in their opinion would benefit or enhance the community.
A number of individuals from NFVHS have visited Iowa BIG North programs, and have had conversations with teachers, administrators and students who have been involved in the program since its inception. That program has evolved over the past few years, and in addition to holding an annual Hackathon, another day is set aside for community entities to come and present a pitch for the support of the students. One of the strong components of the program is the ownership students have for the projects. When a business or community organization has “contracted” for services, there is a strong sense of responsibility. Another factor to consider is that this experience is truly real life.
We look forward to our students having this experience as we determine whether to bring this program to NFVHS.
IN THIS ISSUE
Each month NFVHS Principal Todd Wolverton shares his thoughts on a variety of topics, most of them having to do with school!
Hey Mr. Clark!
School counselor Bill Clark shares pertinent information relative to the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students.
WHAT’S GOING ON AT NFVHS
College graduation rate:42%
4 Yr. College graduation rate: Of students attending four-year colleges and universities in Iowa, 41.5% graduated in four years.
6 Yr College graduation rate68%
6 Yr. College graduation rate: Of students attending four-year colleges and universities in Iowa, 68.4% graduated in six years.
by Todd F. Wolverton
One can hope that we have made it through winter and are not surprised with any early spring snow storms! However, I have a picture from one last April, so we are not out of the woods yet. As you all know by now, the last day for students is now June 5, and the teachers will finish up a couple of days later. We are hopeful that we have smooth sailing as we move forward for the remainder of the 2018-19 school year.
As I write this we are close to finishing up the senior Capstone projects. We are a little behind where we thought we could be due to missing twelve days of school when our evaluators would have been working through the papers that the seniors wrote. Some of the students are still making corrections and improvements to their papers and otherwise pulling together some of the other things they need to have in their portfolios. The presentations are completed and by the middle of this month we will have talked to the juniors as some of them are starting to think a little bit about next year.
I do want to make a couple of observations specific to this year’s seniors and this project. First of all, they have been outstanding in terms of meeting the deadlines and turning in a quality product. We did make a few adjustments that we believe contributed to this, but most of the credit goes to the students who have a strong sense of responsibility and understand the importance of meeting deadlines. In fact, we had a little over a dozen students hand in their papers a week early this year!
In regard to the papers, our evaluators have remarked that as a group, this is the best set of papers we have received since we started the project. A number of the students started work on their papers well in advance, some of them toward the end of their junior year in their composition course. Giving themselves a significant amount of time naturally results in a better organized and thought out paper. Many of them were very enjoyable to read and when it came to corrections and improvements, most have not had a lot of work to do.
Amy Ihde informed me last week that she had gone back through information on the presentations when she was checking off portfolio contents and found that the average length of the presentations this year was between 18 and 19-minutes. The length of the presentation is secondary to its quality, but this is something else to celebrate with this group of seniors and their projects. When you think about it, for a high percentage of our students, they had to be more concerned about going too long than not having a long enough presentation! Again, hats off to them!
We do like having the presentations during the time set aside for parent-teacher conferences, though we do not have it where we want it yet. I envision an evening that truly is a celebration, with parents and family members coming out and watching a number of different presentations. Most parents are able to attend with the new schedule, and some other students do come to support the presenters. It is an evening where students emerge from the presentation room with a smile and a strong sense of accomplishment!
We are finishing up the fifth year of the Capstone Project. There are still critics who question why we do it, and to them my initial response is “come watch the presentations” and when a student finishes, ask them how they feel about themselves. About nine years ago I was given the mission of strengthening the academic program at our school, specifically the senior year. We made adjustments throughout the four grades to accomplish that goal. The fundamental purpose is to prepare students for the next stage in their life. The Capstone is the culminating experience of that effort.
It is important to understand that it is not supposed to be easy. It is supposed to be hard, to be a challenge for each of the students. Struggle is good and more important, overcoming a challenge is something that all of our students are going to have to do repeatedly as they go forward in life.
This project has also gained quite a bit of acceptance in the community. We are to the point where we have community members seeking me out to volunteer to evaluate the presentations. Each year when the students are finished, there are always compliments about how well they did, as well as statements about what a person learned. Some of these folks have in turn asked students to present to different groups and organizations. When we started, one of the stated purposes was to have our community validate the education we were providing our students. The Capstone has become a vehicle for that validation.
There was a bit of a furor on Facebook a little over a year ago and while I saw and read very little of it, perhaps the most impactful part of the thread were a number of posts by former students who had completed the project. One in particular stood out to me from a student that had a lot of struggles in her four years of high school. She expressed how she exceeded her own expectations and how the hard work was worth it in the end. It is an individual journey with a positive end.
Hey, Mr. Clark!
by Bill Clark, School Counselor
My Son Says No To College, I’m Not Sure How Hard I Should Push Him
Edited version from: Grown and Flown by Katie Bingham Smith
How hard do you push your kid to got to college? Every time the college discussion comes up, my son (who is a sophomore in high school) cringes. He says he’s not interested in going away to school and the very thought of another four years of school makes his stomach turn.
I am going to be really transparent right now and say I want my son to have a degree for a few reasons. Yes, I feel it will give him more options and open his mind to other opportunities, but I am also aware that there is a stigma surrounding not going to college.
But, my son could not care less. I need to put my ideas and my ego aside and let him make his own decision. As much as we would like him to attend college, his father and I aren’t interested in spending tens of thousands of dollars to send him to a school he doesn’t want to go to and risk him dropping out.
However, I’m not giving up just yet because that would be doing him a disservice. I won’t force him to go to school, but will force him to open his mind and visit a few different schools.
I’m not above getting out my old college pictures and telling him how amazing my college experience was. I’m also on the hunt for a college-aged person to sit with him and talk about their experience because I refuse to accept his hard “no” right now. I will be careful not to push too hard. We all know how that usually goes.
My son has tunnel vision right now and seems really excited about learning his father’s trade of plumbing, something he already has a good jump on. There is a 100-year old family business waiting for him to get his hands on it with the possibility of taking it over one day. His father can train him and teach him everything he needs to know; including the business side of things. There is a huge demand for plumbers and the business has, for a long time now, sustained itself and supported many families.
My main goal in this situation is to make sure my kids have a career they love, no matter how that looks. I’m lucky enough to have work I love and so does their father. It has improved our quality of our lives tremendously and I want nothing less for my kids.
If he does decide against going away to college, there are still ways he can get his Bachelor’s Degree: He can take classes online or he can work and save money for a few years and then go.
And honestly, if he does decide to work for his father right out of high school, he might just be one of the lucky ones who takes a nosedive into a career he loves, is debt free, and learns independence and life-skills through work instead of school.
In the end, we all want our kids to have a life they choose and one that makes them happy. So, if a college visit, positive encouragement from his parents, and talking with other people who have had great college experiences doesn’t make him waiver, I am going to let it go and let him do his thing.
He will be a young adult when he graduates, and as difficult as it may be for me to have a child who doesn’t go to college, in the long run it’s more important for him to take the reins here. After all, this is his life to live, I got to make the choices that were best for me when I was his age without interference.
I am really thankful for that, and I owe him the same.
PROUD TO BE NFV!
The Tribes of Volga Park spent two days learning about team building and winter survival during March Madness.
Students had a chance to develop their craftsmanship building wooden trucks during March Madness.
Pet Capades was a very popular choice among students who had a chance to learn more about the importance of pets in one’s life.
Young Women’s Empowerment Day
On March 27, a group of young ladies from North Fayette Valley High School, accompanied by teachers Cassie Gruman and Sarah Pisney, attended the Young Women’s Empowerment Day held at New Hampton High School. This was the first year for the event designed to bring high school age young women together to learn more about how to recognize their strengths, develop their skills, and become more independent and in control of their lives.
Throughout the day the students were able to listen to and learn from a number of speakers, including keynoter, Amanda Goodman, former news anchor for KWWL and current executive director of the Family and Children’s Council of Waterloo.
Other presenters included business owners and triathletes Heather Rausch and Carrie Tysdahl; Elisa Russ, former State FFA President; elementary principal and former college athlete Brenda Lansing; and Marcus Newsom, head coach at Wartburg who talked about powerful women in his life.
The day ended with a call to action for the participants to use their voice to advocate on behalf of young women, as well as on issues that have an impact on them at their schools.
North Fayette Valley High School Staff
Administration and Guidance
Todd Wolverton - Principal
Bill Clark - School Counselor
Ron Imoehl - Liaison
Robin Albert - Secretary
Barb Schroeder - Secretary
Stephanie Wagner - Nurse
Cassie Peterson - Interventionist
Brent Kuker - Teacher
Jacob Pedersen - Interventionist
Antwyan Cullar - Associate
Debbie Ruroden - Associate
Neal Bentley, Garrett Crandall, Megan DeBack, Stephanie Ellis, Darcy Einck, Tim Feldman, Cassie Gruman, Kathy Hageman, Elaine Hanson, Kyle Harms, Cyndy Hinton, Molly Holthaus, Ryan Holthaus, Dan Hovden, Amy Ihde, Kelli Kovarik, Matt Krambeer, Jon Kullen, Bob Lape, Brooke Lodge, Julianne Meyer, Tracy Nuss, Sarah Pisney, Kayla Pollock, Ted Schacherer, Molli Steffens, Kari Straube, Rachael Strong, Denice Vandersee
Bobbi Jo Koch