Thursday, March 13, 2014

Its Good to be a Pirate!

Just when we thought that the winter would never end! The days are getting longer (daylight saving time), the average daily temperature is on the rise (finally), and spring break is right around the corner. It really wasn't until the waning days of February that we were finally able to get a full week of school in. School days cancelled, late starts, and early dismissals seemed to be the norm from week to week, and for a while we just couldn't seem to catch a break. It was dark, it was cold, and there was a lot of snow on the ground. To add insult to injury, it was too cold for much of the winter for our young students to enjoy playing in the snow. But in spite of all that, we have found a remedy: #piratepower!

There is just so much to be excited about right now in our school that it makes it difficult to feel anything but happy and thrilled to be a part of something so special! Have you had a chance to see the art work that Mrs. McNeal is having her students complete and then share around the community? The Art It Forward project is an awesome way of giving our young people the opportunity to showcase and share their work with those beyond the classroom teacher and their own parents. These students recently had the opportunity to participate in an art show sponsored by St. Timothy's Church right here in Hudson. What a great experience for these burgeoning artists!

I am sure you are also aware of the fact that our elementary staff is hard at work in the first year of implementation of a brand new math curriculum. This reform based curriculum is beginning to pay great dividends as student outcomes are on the rise. Implementing a new curriculum was a pretty big shift for our faculty and required in many cases a change in instructional practice. The faculty has responded famously and are becoming more comfortable with the material daily. This same group is now in the process of studying and testing a comprehensive English/Language Arts curriculum with a goal of recommending an adoption for the 2014-2015 academic year. Did you realize that it has been well over a decade since the District underwent a major comprehensive curriculum adoption, and they are now in the process of completing two within two years?

How about the secondary level? We are only three short months into the implementation of a connected learning initiative and continue to improve learning opportunities daily. The idea of a connected learning initiative was conceived more than five years ago, and today it has become a reality. We are beginning to realize the power of a connected learning environment as students from all strata of our student body are given access to these amazing tools!

Our academic accomplishments also speak for themselves! Take for example our fifth and sixth grade math bee competition under the guidance of Mrs. Christopher. This group recently placed five out of twenty-six in the math bee competition! To top that off, one student scored in the top ten of individual scores! It doesn't end there. As we speak, the middle school students are right in the middle of preparing for the National History Day competition, where we continue to compete year after year at the highest level. Did someone say dynasty? In the high school, we have two students who are National Merit scholar finalists, who scored at the highest levels on the ACT! These students are making plans to attend some of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the country! Also worthy of note is the fact that the Department of Education released the graduation and dropout rates for the 2012 and 2013 cohort groups. The 2013 (4) year cohort graduation rate for Hudson was 100%; and the 2012 (5) year graduation rate was 98.44%. The state rate was 89.7% for the 2013 (4) year cohort and 82.1% for the 2012 (5) year cohort. Crushed it!

Before I forget, you may be aware that the third quarter just came to an end. At the end of the third quarter in grades 5-12, we only had 1% of students who failed a course. In addition, the percentage of students who currently carry a grade point average of less than 2.0 is less than 1%--almost too small to count! This is a testament to the hard work of our students, teachers, and administrators who work hard every day to ensure that we create effective learning environments that result in success for all students!

Of course, and article like this wouldn't be complete if we didn't take a few minutes to give a shout out to our athletics and fine arts performers, now would it? First off, we have 2A State Champion wrestler with Luke Huber who amazed us with his ability and hard work this season. Way to go Luke! Our boys basketball team had a great season as well and were a ton of fun to watch! You gave us some great nail biters and came away with some very impressive victories. The girls basketball team was truly amazing this year. At the beginning of the season I suspected that this team was going to do something special, and they sure didn't disappoint with their best finish in school history! 

Fine arts at Hudson continue to be a dominant force on the state stage as well. The show choir finished in first place at the North Polk competition earlier in the month, and the jazz band won their 3rd straight NEIBA championship, qualifying them for their 3rd trip to the Iowa Jazz Championships on April 8th (there is that dynasty word again).

There is no doubt that this has been a very cold, dark, and long winter. But during all those cold days, there sure have been a lot of bright spots, haven't there? I don't think I would be alone in stating that it has been worth it. I am so proud of the accomplishments of our school district! Here's to spring, and it sure is Good to Be a Pirate!

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