Power to Stand

As our students enjoy their summer break, the Knoxville Community School District is reflecting on a school year full of outstanding achievements on the part of our students, staff and community.

“We started the school year with a number of ambitious goals to raise the bar for achievement, and also to promote life skills, career development and student well-being,” said Cassi Pearson, KCSD Superintendent. “I am proud of the commitment our students and staff gave to help us accomplish these goals.”

Academic growth and achievement

Throughout Knoxville schools, the district’s youngest learners are making considerable gains in reading. At West Elementary, students realized 5 percent growth on the FAST reading assessment. And, at Northstar Elementary, the average growth of students proficient in content was at an impressive 4.3 percent.

All grade-level median scores in reading and math were above benchmarks at the middle and high schools, and 99 percent of the seniors who started the school year at KHS graduated this spring.

Knoxville is rapidly becoming known as a district that gives its students a head start on higher education. This year, 173 students earned at least one college credit. Overall, students completed a total of 1,423 college credits. This gives them a big advantage in seeking an associate or bachelor’s degree.

KCSD provides students with a wide variety of opportunities that prepare them for college and career success. This was evident again this year as seven students job shadowed at Weiler, 22 students attended 3M Smart Girls Rock STEM Program and several others participated in the Hospital Boot Camp.

The list of accomplishments for Panther students does not end there. Here are some additional highlights:

● Reed Ramirez won the state Math Counts competition

● Asa Leonard (Mr. Mushnick in “Little Shop of Horrors”) received outstanding performance in a principal role from IHSMTA

● Nikolle Kussatz earned 4th place in the state shooting competition

● Our eighth grade and high school Mock Trial teams advanced to state and Tierney Heffron was named an all-state outstanding attorney

● Amy Sullivan qualified for the state girls golf tournament

● Boys’ soccer qualified for the state tournament

● Alex Griggs and Anna Sanderson qualified for the state girls tennis tournament

● Mickayla McGill was elected as the Iowa FFA South Central State Vice President

Service-learning opportunities

One of the top goals at KCSD is to be a Caring Community. At every level, students achieved this goal through a variety of service-learning projects.

West Elementary students held a soup can drive for a food pantry, while students at Northstar made multiple nursing home visits. A guitar group of elementary students called “Folk Group Friends” performed at community events.

The middle school Reading Counts class read to residents at Homestead (an assisted living community), and the student council created signs to place on staff members’ doors. Those signs included a picture and several things students appreciated about each faculty member.

At the high school, six seniors received the inaugural Silver Cord awarded by KCSD, earned through the completion of at least 50 hours of community service. As a whole, KHS students served more than 1,380 hours in the community this school year.

In addition, the Dance Team was one of four (out of 250) to receive an outstanding community service award.

The staff at KCSD also donated more the $10,000 to local charities. These funds created scholarships, helped the Salvation Army, United Way, Food Pantry, The Well, and other organizations that support families in Marion County.

Social and emotional health

This school year, West Elementary implemented PAW-sitive Panther Time, in which students explore key social, emotional and behavioral skills. Each month, there is a theme incorporated into every facet of the school day. Next year, some of those themes will include Growth Mindset, Feelings/Emotions and Friendships/Relationships.

The PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) program at Northstar took a big step forward this year. The school implemented a new PBIS Panther Store, along with yoga and mindfulness in the classroom. The school was even invited to present its PBIS success story at the DE Wellness Conference.

One of the most noteworthy events of the year happened April 1. The school district hosted an all-day mental health conference for high school students, something no other school in Iowa has done in the past. It was a terrific event that gave our students and staff an incredibly valuable learning experience.

“The future is very bright for our Panthers,” said Pearson. “We are working hard to make the 2019-20 school year even better. Expanding community partnerships, increasing career exploration opportunities, introducing our Portrait of a Panther, and providing innovative tools and resources are just a few ways we plan to positively impact our families and staff at KCSD.”

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