Harry S Truman Elementary School is being recognized nationally for the second time in six years.
Principal Jodi Bennett unofficially told the Webb City R-7 School Board members Tuesday that she’s been notified that Truman Elementary is one of two schools in Missouri to be selected as a National ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Distinguished School.
Official announcement is expected soon, and local representatives of the district will receive the honor in February at a conference in Indianapolis, Ind.
Bennett explained that selection is based on academic progress achieved through the federal Title I program. She introduced Kelly Woodring, the Title I instructional coach at Truman but said credit is shared by other staff members and students.
“This is a big deal,” said Superintendent Tony Rossetti.
The first time Truman was nationally recognized was in 2016 when it was named a National Blue Ribbon School.
Brenten Byrd, assistant superintendent for instructional services, noted, “In one year we’ve had two schools nationally recognized for academics improvement.” Eugene Field Elementary became a National Blue Ribbon School this fall.
Board members were positive about adding esports as an extracurricular activity and appeared likely to approve the specifics in January.
Dakota Newby, a high school math and coding instructor, said the main thing about esports is that draws in students who aren’t involved in other extracurricular activities. In fact, he cited a study that showed esports was the first extracurricular activity that 82% of the participants had ever been involved with.
He noted there are 110 Missouri schools competing in esports through the Missouri Scholastic Esports Federation. Seven of the them are other schools in the Central Ozark Conference.
He said competing in esports is credited with participants’ improved grades and attendance. And the better players go on to compete in college. There are even careers involving esports.
There are three esports seasons during the school year, with weekly competitions for varsity and junior varsity teams. Unlike other sports, teams compete online so there will be no travel expenses, except if they make it to the state championship. Not traveling means Webb City could compete regularly against distant schools.
It’s estimated the initial cost will be $55,600 for gaming consoles and other equipment plus $1,200 for the annual state registration and game subscriptions. There will be a classroom in the new addition which could be dedicated to esports.
Three of the Webb City High School students enrolled in the MOSO CAPS career exploratory program reported to the board on how they’ve done during the first semester of the new program.
Payton Marshall, Jace Miller and Sydney Strickland each told board members about the positive experiences they’ve had job shadowing.
Suzanne Hull, director of the program, said students are finding out there are “great careers in their own back yard.” She said the number of industry partners has grown to 45 and more are interested.
Miller said he’s now considering going to college to become an attorney because of his exposure to the field. His mother told the board that she is thankful that because of the program he has become an adult in one semester.
Marshall’s parents were also at the meeting and added their praise of the program.
Rossetti told the students and parents to spread the word because the district has open spots to fill next year. The full-year dual-enrollment program is limited to juniors and seniors. Webb City is issued 35 spots but only half are filled this year.
The purchase of two new buses was recommended, even though the price has gone up a considerable amount.
Board members, however, asked for a full report next month on the age of the bus fleet because they may want to order more than two.
The board hesitated momentarily to accept the retirement letter submitted by John Roderique, head football coach for the past 26 seasons. He’ll continue to be the athletic director until the end of the school year.
The board promoted Megan Henson to replace Dina Winningham, who is retiring as the food service director. Henson has been Winningham’s longtime assistant and has obtained an associate’s degree to meet a requirement to be considered for her new position.
Kylee Smith was hired as an occupational therapist.
Deanna Dawson was hired as an early childhood special education teacher at Heritage Preschool.
Rossetti thanked the board for allowing Kevin Cooper to stay on this last semester to guide his replacement, Josh Flora, as the assistant superintendent for business operations.
Rossetti said Cooper “has been a great right hand” for him the last 11 years.
He invited board members to attend a retirement reception for Cooper from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, at the Central Office.
It was announced that the Webb City R-7 Schools Foundation annual banquet will be held March 13. Shane Newby will be honored as the Distinguished Citizen of the year.
Unfortunately, Rossetti said actor James Jordan won’t be able to attend the banquet for his induction into the Hall of Fame because of a conflict with his filming schedule.
Others being honored that night will be the Cardinal Teachers and Pillars of Education.
It was announced that commencement will be held Friday, May 19 (a night that it won’t rain) at Cardinal Stadium. Board members were assured there won’t be a microphone problem again.
Friday, May 26, is scheduled to be the last day of school.
Four candidates for three openings on the school board have signed up. The deadline to file is Tuesday, Dec. 27.
The three incumbents have filed. They are David Collard, Jeanne Newby and William Roderique.
Erin Taylor is the fourth candidate so far.