A FEW NOTES
This is already the last article for the month of September! A few weeks ago, we were just opening the doors for the school year and we are already nearing the end of the month! As we have worked through the first month, there are a number of wonderful things to report about the district!
We had a great turnout of students for opening day! Last spring we projected that we would open this fall with about the same number of students as we ended last year—about 2055 students. Over the course of the summer, we saw a great deal of student change with many students enrolling in the ROCORI Schools.
At the last two school board meetings, we had discussions about enrollment. In August, we were still making projections but by the September meeting, we had actual enrollment information. At both meetings, we had indications that our enrollment would be higher than we were expecting.
We expected that we should have about 2075 students on opening day. On September 1, we opened the year with 2088 students in attendance! As we opened the year, most of our grade levels, with the exception of kindergarten, were at or had more students enrolled than our budget estimates indicated.
The enrollment increase is a great testament to the programs, academic system, and activities that are offered in the ROCORI School District. We have had a goal of becoming a “district of choice” in this geographic area and, at least for this year, it appears that people are choosing ROCORI. We are very proud of the quality education we are able to offer!
At the end of August, the Minnesota Department of Education annually releases information about student academic progress. As with other schools across the state, we received information about the ROCORI School District. We are pleased to report that we have two schools that received recognition from the Commissioner of Education!
John Clark Elementary School in Rockville has been recognized as a Reward School. Reward School status is extended to schools that have performed in the top 15% of the schools in the state! John Clark Elementary School has earned this recognition for the fourth time in five years.
ROCORI High School has also been recognized as a high performing school. Minnesota measures progress in several areas including attendance, student proficiency in performance, achievement gap reduction, and graduation rates. The High School site has earned some of the highest MMR rating scores in the area.
Congratulations to JCE and RHS on the successful results from the 2015-2016 school year!
During the end of the 2015-2016 school year, Food Services Director Penny Hoops approached the district administrative team with the concept of starting a free breakfast program across all of the K-12 system this school year. The idea was to offer breakfast to all students in the ROCORI system for free.
Several issues were important considerations of the program. First, and foremost, was to ensure that students have the opportunity to start their school day on a “good note.” Much research indicates that hungry students do not perform as well as students who have had a good breakfast.
In addition, the structure of food service financial reimbursement allows us to expand the program based somewhat on “meals served.” It is a fairly complex process, but the federal food service guidelines allow the district to support a free breakfast program at minimal cost. For a small investment, we can offer all students a good start to their day.
At the secondary level, our food service staff has also been able to develop a breakfast option (that is reimbursable under federal guidelines) that is also “portable”. The staff has a “grab and go” breakfast option that allows us to bring the breakfast offerings out to the students rather than requiring them all to go through the meal service lines in the Commons.
“I was hoping to hit 500 students per day at the High School by December,” explained Director Hoops. “We hit that goal last week (the second week of school) and show no signs of going back!” After the third week, Penny stopped in to tell me that we had already reached nearly 700 secondary students!
The free breakfast program had operated at the elementary level last year and the food service staff wanted to expand it across the district. It has been well-received. "I am thrilled with the kids’ enthusiasm for breakfast,” added Hoops. “What a great way for them to start their learning day."
ELEMENTARY SNACK PROGRAM
As a district, we have also rolled out a snack cart for the elementary grade level students at all three building sites this year! The snack program is intended to promote wellness with the incorporation of healthy snacks during break times.
The elementary students have a choice of one of three different snacks each day. The particular snacks rotate on a daily basis so that there is some variety in the choices, but each day there are three different snacks.
“Our participation in the snack program has also been astonishing!” explained Food Service Director Penny Hoops. “We have 50% or higher participation at all sites for the snack program as well!”
The breakfast program and the snack program have been fairly significant adjustments in program for the Food Service Department. All buildings across the district, with the exception of the DEF, have been impacted by the changes.
“The staff has embraced all of the changes and are taking on the challenges like I could have never imagined!” commented Hoops. “What a wonderful team we have!”
This last week of the month, September 26 through September 30, is Homecoming Week across the ROCORI District. We are halfway through the fall activities season and the week has been designated for Homecoming.
There are activities scheduled throughout the week, especially at the secondary level. The events include specific dress days, the annual Variety Show with the selection of the homecoming king and queen, competitions among the students, the Homecoming parade, the Homecoming dance, and, of course the football game.
For a variety of reasons, the parade and football game move back to Friday evening this year and are set for September 30. The parade will take an alternate route near the Assumption Campus and the ROCORI School campus because of the road construction and detour.