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Monday, June 30, 2014

Activities at Columbia School District!

This year I have taken hundreds of pictures of children playing on the playground, studying in their classrooms, getting help from their teachers and participating in activities in school. In each of the pictures are smiling and active students are happy to be at one of our Columbia Schools. This summer, while we are missing our smiling, happy students, there is still a lot of activity.

Columbia School District has contracted with Bloom Roofing to replace the roofs on all four of our schools. Currently, they are about fifty percent finished at Columbia Elementary, twenty-five percent completed at Columbia Middle School and just beginning at Options and Columbia Central High Schools. The roofers are working diligently to ensure proper installation of all aspects of the roof. If you are visiting our Brooklyn Campus of Columbia Middle and Elementary Schools, please use the rear entrance to the Middle School and the main entrance to the Elementary School.

The excavators and asphalt trucks are getting ready to begin working on the parking areas and drives. Columbia School District has contracted with Bailey Excavation and American Asphalt to complete the parking areas, parent drop off locations and drives. If you are in the area, please be mindful that they are working to get everything finished prior to school beginning in September. We want to make sure the area is safe, but it is a construction zone. We anticipate many people attending the fireworks and will have construction areas marked with caution tape. Please help us keep children and adults out of the construction zones.

In addition to the construction and renovations taking place at Columbia School District, we also have our summer school programs currently going on at Options and Columbia Middle School. Options High School is hosting a credit recovery program and Columbia Middle School has a new STEM accelerated math and science program. The accelerated program offers middle school students an opportunity to earn high school credit in math and science through a blended learning activity. Our child care program is also continuing this summer at Columbia Elementary School.

In August the Columbia Middle School Leadership program will begin. Students of middle school age from any area school may participate for only $25. The program brochure is online at just to the right of our video link. Also in the brochure is the description of the Columbia Central High School summer school credit recovery program. This program offers students from area high schools an opportunity to catch up on their credits. Each ½ credit is $125.

If you have questions regarding our summer programs or our construction projects, please contact me at or call 517-592-6641.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Improvements at Columbia Schools

Walking through the hallways everything seems too quiet.  The students have gone home and are on vacation for the summer.  An occasional teacher works in their room putting the end of the year gear away and planning for next fall.  Next week and the following week we will have teachers and principals at school improvement seminars.  Next week I am attending a superintendent’s seminar focused on improving schools.  During July several of our teachers will be at Advanced Placement seminars and very soon, Mrs. Eastman will attend a grant funded seminar in California.

Although this week ended on a quiet note, beginning June 16th and accelerating throughout the summer, bond funded improvements will begin.  Initially, the improvements will begin with the abatement of a material that includes asbestos and was used in the soffits and flashing areas of our roofs.  Following the abatement, the areas will be covered with plastic sheeting until the roofing contractor seals the area with new material. 

The roofers are using a 90 mil Firestone type roof on Columbia Central High School, Columbia Middle School and Columbia Elementary School.  This type of roofing material will give us a 30 year warranty and is backed by the manufacture for both installation and material failure.  The roofing will begin in a couple of weeks.  On the Columbia Community Education/Options High School building the roofers will be using a 60 mil Firestone type of roofing material which has a 20 year warranty. 

Along with the roofing project at Columbia Middle and Columbia Elementary School, earth movers will be working to construct the new bus drive along the east side of the middle school property.  The asphalt company will install a new parking area west of Columbia Elementary School and a parent drop-off area and parking lot between the elementary and middle school.  New fences and a playground for the future third through sixth grade area will also be constructed.

While all of the construction and improvements are exciting, we will pleased to have Phase 1 completed and have our terrific students back in school next fall.  If you are interested in sending your child to Columbia School District, please email me at or call 5175926641.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Technology Integration into Columbia's Curriculum

Keyboards are a part of everyday life for most of us. Essential to our jobs and access to the internet, we depend on all types of keyboards: virtual keyboards, comfortable keyboards, ergo dynamic keyboards and a weird keyboard entitled Franken keyboard. Most of the keyboards in use today use the QWERTY letter arrangement. Although it seems strange when you first begin to type, you soon get used to the arrangement of the letters on the QWERTY keyboard and learn to overcome your initial doubts.

In much the same way, the use of the internet and computers initially seemed strange in education and people were not sure how to use it to benefit our students. Through the use of the internet Columbia School District teachers are able to open up the world to our students. In our English courses teachers assign blogging to their students. Sometimes a student will blog and other students give feedback and comment on the blog entry. Even our first grade students use blogging to help develop their writing skills.

Other classrooms use the power of the internet to do research with up to date information. When most of us were in school we used sources that were several years old to do our research. Students today have the opportunity to read research that has just been released.

Our middle school students are using Chromebooks in various classes to increase their ability to compete in a 21st Century learning environment. They are experiencing technology integrated directly into the curriculum. Social studies class provides an excellent example of technology integration into the curriculum. Earlier this year students in middle school social studies were researching early American history beginning with the 13 Colonies. Each student had to use internet resources to research one of the 13 Colonies, report on the demographics and events that happened during that time. They created a web page to report their findings to their teachers and fellow classmates.

Early in their student careers, our preschool students have the opportunity to become acquainted with technology in the form of iPads. The students use the iPads and special preschool apps to practice their alphabet complete with sounds. They also work on learning their numbers. In addition, there are apps that help students grasp the concepts of matching, patterning, adding and subtraction.

As part of our Bond Issue Projects the Columbia School District is expanding our technology infrastructure and ability to offer our students the best in technology integration. As we move into the next year, our technology coordination team will begin installing the updated infrastructure, ordering additional devices and installing additional wireless access points. We are all very excited about the updated technology because our teachers and students will benefit greatly.

If you would like to learn more about Columbia School District or our programs, please call me at 5175926641 or email me at .

Sunday, June 1, 2014

STEM Options for Summer Learning Opportunities!

School will be over in a couple of weeks and during the summer many of us will load our children into the car and go on vacation. The trip in the car gives you a great chance to work on your child’s math skills and keep them occupied all at the same time!

Work on their math computation skills. Fill a plastic bag with pennies and give them out as your children answer math questions correctly. If they answer incorrectly, you may want to take a penny back from your child. If you have children on different levels, you may alternate the difficulty of the questions with the children. Beyond asking questions such as ‘6+4= what,” you can make longer math sentences filled with addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

Work on clock math. Ask your children questions based upon the question, “when are we going to get there?” The question would be phrased similar to, “It is 5:49, what time will it be in 27 minutes?” You may want to give out pennies for correct answers during the clock math “game.”

Work on graphing. While playing the license plate game, graph the results. A favorite type for the license plate game would be a bar graph. You may choose to graph the results by player, remember you can play too, or graph the results by state.

Build their basic algebraic skills. Talk about the ratio of miles per hour, miles per minute and how to compute gas mileage. On some maps the exits are indicated by “mile markers” so you can teach your children how to figure out the answer to “how long will it take,” based upon the rate of speed you are traveling. The math games will help to teach your children that math is fun and it is all around us. As you travel the games will help keep your children occupied as they earn “spending money” for the next rest stop.

If you are not planning a vacation this summer, you may want to have your child participate in a summer activity at Columbia Schools. Below are two options:

Columbia Advanced STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) Academy has been designed to give middle school students an opportunity to experience a unique hands-on curriculum this summer. Students will be challenged to increase their academic abilities and earn high school Algebra and Physical Science credits and/or Geometry and Physical Science credits, thereby giving them an accelerated placement when they enter Columbia Central High School. Duration of the Program: June 16th – July 1st and July 7th through August 7th (Monday – Thursday)

Columbia Middle School Leaders In Training Program will use team building strategies to assist struggling students build a sense of camaraderie with their peers. Additionally, the students will build a sense of self confidence and accomplishment that will lead to a greater self-esteem. The students will work together increasing their skills both in and outside of the classroom to increase their level of success. During the four week time period students will participate in challenge-by-choice strategies including: learning through a low-ropes facilitated team-building course, increasing their self-image on the high-ropes course, conquering a forty-foot climbing tower and time for reflection and discussion. The students will also work through basic study skill strategies and character development training to help insure a greater level of academic success next fall. Duration of the Program: August 5th -21st (Tuesday – Thursday).
If you are interested in learning more about our summer programs, please call Mrs. O’Neil at Columbia Middle School 5922181, email her at or email me at .