Showing posts with label ColumbiaMissourian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ColumbiaMissourian. Show all posts

Friday, September 26, 1997

Hickman seniors commended: Nine students are eligible for National Merit Scholarships, and 18 were named semifinalists

Published in the Columbia Missourian

Twenty-seven Hickman High School seniors have been honored with national commendations. Nine are National Merit semifinalists, eligible for college scholarship awards from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Hickman also has 18 National Merit commended students not eligible for National Merit money but who hold Letters of Commendation. The letters were earned by only 35,000 high school seniors nationwide.

Semifinalists are: Matthew Arthur, Aimee Blanchard, Michael Dixon, Ian Harrison, Erin McElroy, Angela Paneck, Ben Parks, Andrew Riskin, and Prashant Velagaleti. They are members of a group of about 15,000 students nationwide. Ninety percent of semifinalists become finalists by fulfilling additional requirements. Half of the finalists will earn the National Merit Scholar designation. Scholarship winners will be announced beginning April 1998.

Hickman's Commended Students are: Sabri Benachour, Phillip Coleman, Lindsey Erickson, Erin Gallagher, Justin Gerke, Elizabeth Havey, Nahyoung Lee, Naichang Li, Paul Lightner, Travis Linneman, Christina Losapio, Joel Miller, Andrew Misfeldt, Morgan Smith, Bruce Troyke, Wesley Walker, Lindley Wall and Megan Williams. "We're really pleased with the achievement of our students," said Bragg Stanley, Hickman's Director of Guidance.

More than 1 million high school students nationwide participated in this year's Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test during their junior year of high school.

High school students interested in participating in the PSAT/NMSQT program can find more information at their high schools' guidance offices.

Thursday, September 25, 1997

Students recognized for scores: Area high schoolers in the National Merit program could receive money for college

Published in the Columbia Missourian

Five Rock Bridge High School seniors have been honored in the 1998 National Merit scholarship program. One is a National Merit semifinalist, and four are commended students.

Hickman High School is waiting for its list of National Achievement Scholars before releasing a list of this year's student achievers.

Marina Somers is Rock Bridge's only semifinalist, one of 15,000 nationwide. About half will be chosen as National Merit scholars and awarded money toward college tuition.

"I was pretty surprised," Somers said. "I guess I must have eaten a good breakfast the day of the test."

Seniors Gil Alexander, Anne Hillman, Corey Webel and Aaron Wright will receive letters of commendation from the school and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation at the school's homecoming assembly Friday.

Last year, Rock Bridge had four semifinalists and five commended students, said Principal Jim King.

"Counselors encourage students about testing programs," he said. King also said the school's guidance office runs in-house test preparation programs.

"It's important for students who are serious to take it seriously," King said. Nationwide, 35,000 students will be honored this year as commended students. Although they are not eligible for National Merit scholarships awarded next spring, these local students are in the top 5 percent of more than a million students who entered the 1998 Merit Program by taking the 1996 Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Outgoing senior Somers is preparing to take the SAT again in November. She uses commercially available practice books.

She said she hopes to attend MU, Rice University, the College of William and Mary, Yale University, Wake Forest University or the University of Richmond. Somers, co-editor of The Rock, Rock Bridge's student newspaper, might major in journalism.

However, she is applying for a Rotary Club youth exchange that would permit her to live in Germany for a year. She has studied German for six years. "It's kind of scary, but it will be a good experience," Somers said. Webel, Wright and Alexander said they are happy with their test results. Alexander and Webel said they have older brothers who were National Merit finalists but are proud to be commended students.

Colleges and universities are interested, too.

"You get sent a lot of mail," Alexander laughed. Wright and Webel also are getting promotional mail from numerous colleges.

Alexander, who said he is ready to wander a bit farther from home, plans to study music in college. He said he hopes to attend Northwestern University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor or Rice University.

Wright decided he wants to be a college professor, though he hasn't decided in which area he would like to teach. He intends to go to MU, Washington University, Grinnell College or Carleton College.

Webel has a large number of interests, including academics, sports and music. He will apply to MU, Truman State University and Wheaton College, though he doesn't know what he'll study.

Sunday, September 14, 1997

Schools use fewer trailers: The district is experiencing temporary relief from the overcrowding problem

Published in the Columbia Missourian

Columbia public schools are using fewer mobile classrooms this year than in the past, in an attempt to bring students into permanent school buildings. School officials are optimistic about eventually moving away from trailer use, but say that the district's bonding capacity limit prevents them from moving forward more quickly.

This year, there are 121 mobile classrooms around the Columbia Public School District, down 15 from last year. Ten of those are at Lange Middle School, which opened with them this year because of an inability to finance a larger permanent facility.

Many students and teachers like the trailer-classrooms, for their space, atmosphere and climate control.

"It was a lot smaller, and I liked it because it had air conditioning," said Andrea Smith, a fourth-grader at Fairview Elementary, whose class was held in a trailer last year.

"I enjoyed my trailer because they're large," said Joan Rawson, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Oakland Junior High.

"You're out here by yourself," said Justin Towe, a sixth-grade math teacher at Lange. "We have the same facilities other people in the school have except that we're outside."

However, Two Mile Prairie Elementary's art teacher, Kathy Dwyer, is happy she's back inside. Dwyer was in a trailer last year with no running water, which made cleanup more difficult.

Harris Cooper, president of the school board, calls mobile classrooms a temporary solution to an overcrowding problem.

"Mobile classrooms ought to be used in a very limited fashion," Cooper said. He wants them replaced in time with permanent structures. Trailers can only increase classroom space and not infrastructure; bathrooms, lunchrooms, auditoriums, and gymnasiums become inadequate for the student population size, he said.

Financing problems
Major renovations are needed at some schools; most schools need more classroom space than they have. School officials say there is not enough money for everything.

By law, Missouri school districts can only issue bonds worth 10 percent of the district's assessed property value. In 1996, voters defeated a statewide constitutional amendment that would have permitted an increase of bonding capacity to 15 percent.

The Columbia district is already bonded to its maximum capacity. An expansion of that capacity would have permitted over $40 million of additional bonds to be proposed by the board, still subject to public approval.

Renting vs. buying
Deputy Superintendent Marjorie Spaedy said no records are kept for annual mobile classroom maintenance. The district leases 87 trailers with an option to buy and rents 28, according to Greg Cooper, district purchasing agent.

The trailers each cost between $6,500 and $7,000 annually to rent, Spaedy said. The district has moved from leases with buy options to rentals, Spaedy said. "Recently, we've been hoping we would be able to return some as we built new buildings," she said.

Replacing all of the existing trailers with permanent classroom space would cost nearly $11.5 million.

The main company renting trailers to the school district is Missouri Equipment Leasing, of Springfield. Purchasing a trailer there would cost between $35,000 and $45,000, including transportation and installation. With a toilet included, it would cost at least $40,000 delivered and installed.

Tony Andrews, of Modular Technologies Inc., of Kinston, North Carolina, said the district is "coming out a lot better" by renting trailers from his company than by purchasing them. He said purchasing a trailer from Modular costs around $25,000 , not including transportation or installation. In their leases, Modular Technologies includes transportation, installation, and removal as well as structural maintenance.

Planning for the future
Cooper noted that while enrollment stabilization is difficult to predict, some catching up has been possible with the opening of Lange Middle School. Also helping this year is the fact that enrollment increased by only 23 students, far lower than projected. He hopes that new bond issues will be able to continue to relieve overcrowding.

Lange Principal Carole Kennedy said the use of trailers "really isn't poor planning." Lange opened with 10 trailers because there was no money to build a larger facility, she said.

Spaedy reported that the planning process for each of the three middle schools includes plans to double their capacities, though that construction would require further district bond issues. Kennedy said school facilities plans also include trailers.

The district maintains all the trailers it uses.

"Their life span depends on how long you make them last," Spaedy said. A typical lifetime is between 10 and 30 years, she said, noting that she is not aware of any trailers discarded by the district.

More pressing concerns?
"It's clear that they don't plan to move these trailers," said Helen Burnham, a parent of four students in the district.

Burnham doesn't consider mobile classrooms a major problem.

"They're not that big a deal," she said. "My children tend to want to have classes in trailers."

Burnham would rather the district focused on reducing class size rather than reducing trailer numbers. Most of the district's educational goals could be met, she said, by lowering class numbers and giving teachers more time with each student. "A nice group of 15 or 20 of them in a trailer is fine."

Tuesday, August 26, 1997

Family gears up for new school year: The Sedalia family is like many getting ready for school this week

Published in the Columbia Missourian

Savannah Szymanski, 12, walked up to her mother with a different shoe on each foot.

"No, we're only doing one pair," said her mother, Ramona Mefford. Several minutes later, Mefford called to her children: "Look, here's Mom paying. That's what she does best."

The back-to-school shopping trip was over at last. The Sedalia family spent Monday in Columbia, as did many mid-Missouri families, getting ready for school to start this week. The amounts of time and money spent, while necessary, are never as moderate as parents hope.

"I dread it," Mefford said of the annual expedition. Mefford cares for her children as well as working at a Mexican restaurant. Her husband, David, has been pulling overtime at his job "so we can pay for all this," she said. "It makes them happy," she said of her children. "They really look forward to it." The day began at 10:30 a.m. in Sedalia. The baby, Anna, stayed home with her grandmother. Jacob, 3, insisted on going shopping with his older sisters. Savannah and her sister Stephanie, 10, each brought a friend. Kristin Ash, 11, and Samantha Ash, 9, already did their shopping for school, but came along to keep the Szymanski girls company. After more than five hours in Columbia, the group headed home. Mefford said peers at school now influence the buying process more than when the girls were younger. That outside pressure helped make this year's trip more hectic than usual, though the children helped watch Jacob.

"It can get real expensive," Mefford said of the girls' desire for brand-name items. "We can't go to Payless for shoes anymore." That is why they all ended up at the Columbia Mall. Savannah was in search of Nike or Adidas shoes, though Stephanie selected her old standard, Keds.

Savannah was helpful, keeping her eye out for sales or discounts on the shoes she looks for. Her mom appreciates that. "I don't like using a credit card so I have to save up," Mefford said.

The family enjoys coming to the Columbia Mall because it's a convenient place to shop, with the whole space air-conditioned and indoors. The mall also has a wider variety of stores than Sedalia. They can even go out to eat - a real family trea t - without having to drive anywhere else and find a parking space. The convenience hides the cost, however. Savannah needed new glasses, which cost $200. To be ready for school, she needed to buy shoes, for $65, various sports clothes, for about $20 per item, and jeans, found on sale for $22. All told, Mefford said, she spent $328 Monday on clothes for her two school-age children. Last week she spent just more than $100 on the girls' school supplies. "They're worth it ," she said with a proud smile. The girls also help around the house to get allowances, which, their mom said, they conveniently spend just before the big shopping trips.

The girls do help pay for things they want throughout the school year, from extra classroom supplies to clothes they want. Savannah and Kristin will soon be sharing a paper route to earn an additional $76 a month, which they will split. As the kids got hungry, they got restless and the family headed off in search of pretzels or pizza. With Jacob in tow, the four girls strolling along, Mefford pushed the stroller laden with purchases and quipped, "That's why I got a minivan."