School News

News for Marion Community Schools


Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
From the Chronicle-Tribune

Schools across Grant County are stepping up encouragement to inspire students to excel as the first half of 2013’s ISTEP+ exam begins today.

“It’s all about confidence now,” said McCulloch Junior High School Principal Jim Fox. “We’ve been working on standards all year long … and now it’s about students being confident enough to apply that and do their best.”

Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
More than a dozen students were recognized for academic success and more Feb. 27, 2013, by the Marion Community Schools Board of School Trustees.

Those honored were:


Bradley Dennis, Marion High School senior, who earned a perfect score on his English 10 end-of-course assessment after moving into the school district from out of state, and Truman Bennet, McCulloch Junior High School eighth-grader, who earned a perfect score on his Algebra I end-of-course assessment.  Also seen in the picture are Assistant Superintendent Dr. Ken Folks, school board members Cathy Moritz, Scott Murphy, Pam Hutchison, Harry Hall, Greg Kitts, Katie Morgan, and Aaron Vermilion.



Corey Deaton, a Marion High School senior soccer player who was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s 2012 High School Scholar All-America Team, and Kyle Clark, MHS senior soccer player, who was named to the NSCAA’s 2012 High School Scholar All-Central Region Team. Learn more here. Also seen in the picture are Assistant Superintendent Dr. Ken Folks, school board members Cathy Moritz, Scott Murphy, Pam Hutchison, Harry Hall, Greg Kitts, Katie Morgan, and Aaron Vermilion.



Michael Culley, a Marion High School senior wrestler who was named to the 2013 IHSWCA Senior All-Academic Team, Hunter Williams, an MHS junior wrestler named to the 2013 IHSWCA Junior All-Academic Team, and Trevor Hiles, an MHS junior wrestler who earned honorable mention. Learn more here. Also seen in the picture are Assistant Superintendent Dr. Ken Folks, school board members Cathy Moritz, Scott Murphy, Pam Hutchison, Harry Hall, Greg Kitts, Katie Morgan, and Aaron Vermilion, along with wrestling coach Steve Swinson.



Michael Walters, Brenton Scott, Abbi Swafford, Moara Amagh, Arande Jones, Michael Berry, and Colton Johnson (and Shelby Simpson and Victoria Burk, not pictured), Marion High School JROTC members who earned third place at the Purdue Drill Meet. Learn more here. Also seen in the picture are Assistant Superintendent Dr. Ken Folks, school board members Cathy Moritz, Scott Murphy, Pam Hutchison, Harry Hall, Greg Kitts, Katie Morgan, and Aaron Vermilion, along with Command Sgt. Maj. Jon Smith.
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
From the Chronicle-Tribune

Marion Community Schools’ Head Start program will suffer under $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts that went into effect Friday, but most local law enforcement and school officials are still waiting to find out how they’ll be affected.

Head Start Coordinator Heather Pratt said the program will not have to cut from its 168-student enrollment or 19-person staff as it loses about $53,000 from its annual grant of about $1 million.

Head Start’s six classrooms, five at Tucker Career and Technology Center and one at Frances Slocum Elementary School, will not be so lucky.

Pratt said luxuries including books for children to take home and keep; semiannual take-home instructional bags; and “kindergarten bags” that help students stay sharp over the summer after graduating from Head Start could be cut.

The cuts will also make it much more difficult for Head Start to expand, she said.

“In 2012, we had 237 applicants (for 168 spots),” she said. “This number does not include the number of families that came in requesting information on how to apply for Head Start.”

Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
From the Chronicle-Tribune

Marion High School’s unprecedented turnaround continues to reach new heights.

MHS hit a recorded high with a 91.1 percent graduation rate for the 2011-12 school year.

That rate is a near-10 percent improvement over 2010-11, when the school improved from 68.2 percent to 81.9 percent and finally ended more than five years on academic probation.

“We’re very proud of our graduation rate for the class of 2012. … It’s even an improvement over what we anticipated (90.8 percent),” said Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Ken Folks, who is filling in for Superintendent Steve Edwards during a medical leave. “I attribute it to so many things … dedication from the students, our staff, our administration, our community. It’s a village. It’s a team effort.

The school achieved a graduation rate of only 58.2 percent as recently as 2005-06, the first year it was calculated using the current system.

Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
MARION (Feb. 28, 2013) — Finalized numbers certified by the state have confirmed what leaders at Marion Community Schools had projected: The graduation rate at Marion High School has jumped again and is now higher than the state rate.

For the 2011-12 school year, the MHS graduation rate was 91.1 percent. That’s an 11 percent jump from the previous year’s rate, 81.9. But a slightly longer view reveals a more impressive accomplishment: The 2011-12 rate is a 57 percent increase since 2006-07, when the rate was 58 percent.

2011-12 also marks the first time in many years that the MHS graduation rate has topped the overall state rate, which was 87.9 percent for public schools.

That’s a remarkable stat for a school that just two years ago was on academic probation and facing the possibility of state takeover after years of struggle.

Staff rises to the challenge

Those dark days actually served as a motivating force. An independent evaluation, the Cambridge report, highlighted problem areas, and staff members rose to the challenge.

They took a stand, said MHS Principal Lennon Brown, who arrived in early 2011, after the state urged a change in the school’s administration. In response to the report and the threat of state takeover, he said, the prevailing attitude was: “This is not going to happen to us. We’re better than this.”

That was the kick-start that was needed.

Terry Lakes, chair of the English Department at MHS, agreed.

“Cambridge was eye-opening for us, he said. “From that day forward, we didn’t whine about it, we didn’t gripe about it. We came to the conclusion: What do we need to do to get better?”

A major component of that answer was better data, and better use of that data.

The school committed to following up on students who left MHS, realizing how big of an impact they could still have on the school’s statistics, Brown said. They now work to ensure that record transfers are complete and all needed paperwork is properly filed, so that the graduation rate offers a more accurate picture of their current student population.

The school also has emphasized direct involvement with families of struggling students.

Data drives success

Data plays a critical role in the success of the school’s students and teachers day-to-day too, Lakes said.

From STI testing, which helps evaluate individual students on individual curriculum standards on a continuous basis, to the TAP System, which helps teachers then integrate that test data to tailor their classroom instruction, the whole process is designed to allow teachers and students to take more personal responsibility for their own performance – and to give them the tools to improve.

Lakes has been at MHS since 1985. He was there for the struggle and the painful decline, and now he’s playing an integral role in the rise.

The passage rate for the English 10 end-of-course assessment, one of the tests students must pass to graduate, is up 44 percent since the 2009-10 school year. And that’s largely due to the focus on state standards and how students measure up to them, Lakes said.

On the other ECA students must pass to graduate, the Algebra 1 test, passage rates have risen 87 percent.

Faculty members have worked tirelessly to improve those scores, Lakes said.

But before the new data-based changes, he said, “We were just shooting in the dark.”

Team effort pays off

Now it’s a whole different outlook, with administration and staff collaborating to determine what action to take, Lakes said.

The reliance on data, combined with leadership from Brown, along with Freshman Center Principal James Bragg and Superintendent Steve Edwards, made way for the drastic improvements, Lakes said.

“Once we got the ship righted, we knew what we needed to do,” he said.

The changes started out, Brown said, as simply doing anything to stop the bleeding. But it grew into a whole new way of thinking and dealing with challenges, he said.

The turnaround, said Marion Community Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Ken Folks, is a credit to the team effort and the hard work of not only the administrators and teachers, but of the students, school board and community at large as well.

He specifically praised the administration at MHS, though, for their pinpoint focus on the progress of those students in danger of not graduating. Progress is monitored on a weekly basis, and that data is then funneled into the systems in place for student and teacher improvement.

When the school was tumbling, Brown said, the right conversations were not happening.

Now, he said, “We’re on top of what’s happening to us.”

Lakes agreed.

“We know where we’ve been,” he said. “Now we know where we need to go.”