Jr. High Cheerleaders to Compete at Nationals

The Old Rochester Regional School Committee granted the Junior High cheerleaders permission to travel to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for a national cheerleading competition, as well as to fundraise for the trip, at their regular meeting on Wednesday, December 12.

Members of the cheerleading team, which is largely composed of students from the Junior High but partially the High School varsity team, were attending the meeting along with parents and ORR Cheerleading Coach Patricia McArdle.

“They won a regional contest,” said Michael Devoll, Principal of ORRHS. “It’s a tremendous achievement. The intent is that this be at no cost to the student.”

The team hopes to raise $12,000 to fund the trip. Currently, the team is not sure which type of fundraiser they will pursue, which temporarily stalled the Committee from approving a blanket fundraising request.

“Our way of doing things in the past has been approving specific fundraisers,” Superintendent Douglas White advised the Committee, “but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t give some leeway.”

Committee Chairman Peter Bangs asked McArdle to list the fundraisers the team might pursue. McArdle suggested pancake breakfasts, dances, discounted legal services and an adults-only trip to Foxwoods.

Devoll informed the Committee that, if they approved fundraising, he would work with the team in refining their list.

“I know what you’ve approved before, I know what you didn’t approve,” Devoll said.

Ultimately, the Committee voted to approve the fundraisers mentioned by the team provided that any additional fundraisers are under the discretion of both White and Devoll and that the team works in respect to other school groups who might be fundraising.

The Committee also approved a fundraiser proposed by Kevin Brogioli, Principal of ORRJHS. The fundraiser would allow parents to order novelty items decorated with their child’s artwork. The funds raised by sales would directly pay for the school’s art supplies.

Elise Frangos, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the district, introduced the district’s new English Language Learner instructor, Teah Mazzoni, to the Committee. After discussing her work for the district, in which Mazzoni teaches and monitors students who speak another language at home and are learning English, Mazzoni explained the new endorsement requirements for teacher licensure.

By 2016, Mazzoni said, core academic teachers may not teach ELL students without having an endorsement, which simply means the completion of ELL professional development.  Both Mazzoni and Frangos are working on professional development plans so that all district teachers will have the endorsement.

Committee members asked Brogioli if he had any comments about recent editorials that have appeared in local newspapers, including The Wanderer, regarding the school’s annual Thanksgiving dinner for senior citizens.

“The goal was not to create an adversarial relationship with teachers,” Brogioli said. “The kids did the right thing.”

Brogioli declined to say anything more on the subject.

Committee members also questioned Devoll about recent press coverage that indicated some teachers were fulfilling the bare minimum of their contract requirements. The chief concern was that some teachers might have been offering after-school extra help for only one hour on only one day of the week, which is the contract requirement.

“I hope that’s the minority of teachers,” Devoll said. “I’ve never heard a teacher say ‘I’ll stay one day’ and stick to the contract.”

Devoll added that all teachers in his building would not refuse to help a student who requested academic assistance.

According to the Superintendent’s report included in the meeting’s documents, “The agreements with the Old Rochester teachers, custodians/cafeteria workers as well as the Marion custodians/cafeteria workers are very close to being finalized.”

In his report, Devoll commended the new co-ed swim team for their first win, which was also their first meet.

Devoll also commended ORR English teacher Kathleen Brunelle, who has announced the publishing of her second book, which is entitled Cape Cod’s Highfield & Tanglewood: A Tale of Two Cottages. Brunelle’s first book, Bellamy’s Bride: The Search for Maria Hallett of Cape Cod, was published in 2010.

The School Committee closed the meeting by discussing the upcoming budget discussions, as it is nearing FY14 budgeting season. White said that he is working on streamlining the budgeting process and will have more information for the Committee at the next meeting on Wednesday, January 9 at 6:00 pm in the Conference Room of the Superintendent’s office.

By Anne Smith

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