By Sue Moore
The Vicksburg School Board annually meets in each one its five buildings to review school activities and hear from its leadership. In January, it was Keevin O’Neill’s turn in the spotlight as the high school principal. His message to the board: complimenting the other building principals for their work.
“The numbers we present on our high school achievements are due to the total school district effort by teachers and principals from elementary to middle school and beyond.” He cited the college readiness percentages on the SAT, which was taken by all juniors at the high school the previous spring. In math, VHS ranked second in the Wolverine Conference, just a bit behind Edwardsburg. In the English portion of the SAT, the class of 2017 was only one or two percentage points behind Edwardsburg and Paw Paw. Another measurement: In the conference, Vicksburg students were second only to Edwardsburg in the proportion of college-ready students who took the SAT.
O’Neill was also proud of the number of high school students enrolled in Advance Placement (AP) courses. Vicksburg offers 18 courses as preparation for the level of difficulty of study when students get to college. If they pass the exam with a three or better, the course may count as credit at some higher level institutions. Vicksburg has 617 enrollments in AP courses this year, with some students taking more than one AP class. Of the 2016 graduating class, 80 percent were enrolled in higher education upon graduation, the highest in Kalamazoo County, he said.
The future looks bright with the expectation of adding AP Spanish and an Engineering Development and Production Lab to allow students to manufacture products. In Project Lead the Way, O’Neill plans on adding an additional Engineering and Design section and four sections of Introduction to Computer Science for the 2017-2018 school year. An additional section of Veterinary Science will be added, and science staff will be implementing next generation science standards with more hands-on and problem-solving challenges for students.
In other business, Warren Lawrence brought the board up to date on the activities of the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation, which gives grants to teachers and students and scholarships to seniors. “We are the frosting on the cake, [with our grant money]” he said, “the school board is the cake [with its operation funds].”
Superintendent Charlie Glaes said he was displeased with legislation that is likely to be requested by the Gov. Rick Snyder this month to again attempt to shift income tax funds earmarked for the School Aid Fund to the General Fund. “It’s like a raid on the chicken coop. The legislature needs to hear its citizens squawk so they won’t even try it in the new session.”