Allamakee Community School District celebrates many aspects of learning in observance of American Education Week

Enhancing learning in the ACSD ... Recent enhancements to learning within the Allamakee Community School District are just part of the many aspects being celebrated by the school district during American Education Week, November 12-16. Pictured above, eighth grade students (left to right) Brock Bockman and Berlin Troendle use their school-issued laptop computers to research terms in English. Pictured below, senior students meditate at the start of one of their classes. Photos submitted by the Allamakee Schools Education Association.

submitted by the Allamakee Schools Education Association

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) brings out the best in the community. Those who attend any event, from an elementary concert to a middle school track meet, to a high school musical, witness all ages celebrating the talents of young people.

These public events, while integral to the mission of the school, are only part of the offerings and opportunities. ACSD is a place for diverse opportunities that are worthy of celebrating throughout the year, not just during American Education Week, which is being observed November 12-16 this year.

Younger students are afforded opportunities to explore music, art, technology and sports while learning the necessary skills to succeed in later grades. In middle school, the diversity of those opportunities continues to grow. Once the high school years arrive, options are enormous. High school students may spend classroom time building a house, writing a resumé, harvesting crops, writing computer code or producing media. All of this is in addition to the traditional material of math, science, English and social studies.

The public tends to be aware of the celebrated sports successes. Waukon football has celebrated many milestones the last few years, as have the cheerleaders and cross country runners. The wrestling program and track teams are sending athletes consistently to state competitions. All sports succeed at some level, such as when a basketball player returns after an injury or the golf team gets its lowest score of the season. These accomplishments are worthy of noting, but there are more.

Vocal music is sending students to the All-state Choir, different students to the Opus Honor Choir. Meanwhile, several singers will be part of the Northeast Iowa Conference (NEIC) music festival. Instrumental music will also be sending a large contingent to the NEIC music festival. In a final display of performance art, the high school musical played three sold out shows two weeks ago.

One of the prominent school organizations in Waukon revolves around agriculture, FFA. This group had American Degree recipients for the first time in the history of the chapter (81 years) - not just one, but three individuals were recognized. Less than one percent of all FFA members obtain this honor. In addition, several FFA participants successfully competed at the national conference in October.

Other organizations that contribute to the school and the community include Future Business Leaders of America and National Honor Society. Both groups include community service elements. Students help in the area doing a variety of things. Some of the more frequent examples include working with churches at funerals, assisting the elderly, picking up trash during a clean-up day, or volunteering to help the after school program.

Another element worthy of recognition is the use of technology to enhance student education. Allamakee Schools were among the earliest public schools in the state to give secondary students a laptop to use during the school year. This program is in its eighth year. In addition to laptops, students have access to various tablets, drones, robots, touchscreens and media equipment. In some cases, the technology is the lesson. In most cases, the technology is a means to enhance learning. One of those enhancements is the school district’s website.

The website has connections for students, parents, staff or interested individuals. These too complement student achievement. For example, the library page connects directly to helpful tools that can help the study of history. Students put in headphones and follow along as a story is read aloud to them while being animated. Or, students practice math skills as if it were a video game. There are thousands of applications available for nearly every topic imaginable, all in one convenient starting spot.

Yet another reason to celebrate Allamakee education has been the steady increase in offerings from Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC). This semester, NICC has Waukon high school students enrolled in 1,135 concurrent credits. Concurrent credit classes provide students with the opportunity to earn college credit and high school credit at the same time.

For example, a high school senior can enroll in Composition I. If the student fulfills the requirements in the semester, that student will get credit toward high school graduation and credits that can be transferred to an Iowa public university or most private colleges. Even before the Waukon NICC Center opened in 2008, students had several options to take some of these classes. Today, several of these classes are physically conducted in the high school. Further, some classes have direct and immediate impact.

In one instance, a student who is currently a senior at Waukon High School took a welding class through NICC as a junior. He said the class was challenging and interesting. Today, he works for a local welding company. The class provided him with job skills, high school credit and college credit. Even more, the student did not have to pay tuition.

One mother commented that the savings amounted to real money. Her son graduated two years ago with 26 credits that transferred to a public university. She added, “The curriculum introduced (her sons) to a higher standard and more rigor with the safety net of a controlled environment. They were comfortable working at NICC and had instructors who were familiar.” Many of the NICC teachers are also high school teachers.

More than just American Education Week, Allamakee school district residents have reason to celebrate. Arts, sports, academics, clubs, technology for the 21st century and community service continue to effectively serve young people and this community.

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