County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

HHS Offers Opportunities for Students to Get Excited

Walton: The Hive not a traditional alternative education program


HARRISON – During the November meeting of the Harrison Community Schools Board of Education, Superintendent Judy Walton started her report with congratulations to Kendra Durga and Chad Hathcock for their re-election to the board, as well as Carrie Whitaker who was newly elected to the board.

“We’re very thankful to our community for passing our non-homestead millage renewal,” Walton said. She went on to reminded of an upcoming breakfast for all the HCS employees to be prepared and served by herself and other school administrators.

“We haven’t seen too many no’s yet, so they obviously trust us so far to prepare food for them,” she said, adding that any board members who wanted to stop by would certainly be welcome.

Walton went on to say that all three committees had met the previous week [Curriculum, Athletics and Student Activities; Policy and Planning, Finance and Personnel/labor Relations/Legal/Retirement; and Building and Grounds]. She said the first committee had reviewed data from across the district which was provided by Kelly Lipovsky, curriculum director.

“It was focused primarily on The Hive,” Walton said. “And we’re pleased to see the good attendance pieces that we have. We had a good discussion around the selection criteria for students to be invited to The Hive.”

She said the continuing public relations campaign seeks to help people understand that it is not a traditional alternative education program – and whatever that might conjure up for people over times past – but to think of it as another campus of the high school where different things are being tried in order to support the students, in order for them to be more academically and socially successful.

Walton also referred to seeing the NWEA scores from the first set in September.

“We’re really pleased to see that in many of our grades across the district our students were meeting or exceeding projected growth,” she said. “And we hope that continues.”

She then said the Policy and Planning, Finance and Personnel, Labor Relations, Legal and Retirement Committee focused on several issues, some of which were on that meeting’s agenda, including a reduction in the superintendent’s life insurance resulting in a cost saving to the district.

Going on to Building and Grounds, Walton said discussion there included finalization of the form for outside entities to use school facilities for both for-profit groups and not-for-profit groups.

“Looking to make sure the district does not lose money on allowing people to use our facilities, based on what cleaning might be necessary and other things,” she said. “And then ensuring all entities that come in and are approved to use our facilities are able to provide proof of liability insurance to further protect the district in case of any injury or harm that might occur while using our facilities.”

The next update came from Joe Ashcroft, high school principal, who started out by saying that this year, the school is trying to get back to providing students with opportunities to participate in whatever can get them excited.

He described Esports, and its immense growth [that story was provided in detail in last week’s Cleaver]. Ashcroft also noted that the school website had been updated to list Student Services in the Counseling, with an effort to add more team resources and videos – all part of an effort to add to the website for increased support of families.

“That’s one of the things we talked about at the beginning of the year with our staff,” he said. “How can we try to get high school families more involved with our students?”

Ashcroft said it seems that as students go from elementary to middle to high school, the schools start to lose a lot of parents – leaving only a small number of parents who want to actively engage at parent-teacher conference, or any other evening activities.

“So, we are planning performance tasks, something in the evening to try to get competitions and stuff at night here, so the parents can come and watch,” he said. “Students are actually teaching their parents different things.”

He said that includes doing some Science Olympiad-type things. Also noted was the open house at Mid Michigan College, which gave seniors an opportunity to talk to area businesses so students could learn what businesses are looking for going forward.

“That’s really big for our seniors, and our juniors need to participate in that also,” Ashcroft said. “Because that’s when they’re starting to think about things.”

Juniors were also taken to Central Michigan University to get a feel for the more traditional full-range university, and be exposed to more things.

Ashcroft said sophomores were taken to Saginaw Valley State University to do a career exploration event, which included 100 employees representing advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, construction, health science and more.

Ashcroft reiterated that these tours were not just for the high school.

“We incorporate The Hive into everything also,” he said. “They are part of the high school and we don’t want to separate them at all. So, everybody gets the opportunity.”

He said Guard Strong was brought in to talk to students about making good, positive choices. Also, earlier this year, the Stay Well program was started. November was designated Kindness Month again this year wherein students do interviews asking: What is kindness? How is it hard to be kind and cool at the same time?

“They just go around the building asking these questions,” Ashcroft said. “Then we have our CTE students create a little one-minute kindness interview for us. Then every day in the morning we say the Pledge of Allegiance, and we have a kindness quote for everybody. At the front of the building, if you walk in, they have Kindness Cards. So, the big push is just treating each other appropriately.”

Ashcroft said his big message to students as they travel to the institutions of higher learning is to remember that they are representing themselves, their community and their school.

He said the German language class was sent to Frankenmuth for Oktoberfest. Ashcroft also noted the Spanish classes go to the elementary school each Friday to do a bit of foreign language exposure with the younger students. Also planned at the elementary is a Shoelace Tying Boot Camp which Larson Elementary Principal Andrea Andera said will be held in partnership with the National Honor Society. There, kids can work on tying boards as well as real shoes.

“Moms everywhere thank you,” said Kendra Durga.

Ashcroft added that it is one more opportunity for students to get out of the building and work with other students, other people in the community. He also spoke of the Youth Action Council, which has been on hold for a few years.

“Now we have a handful of freshmen and sophomores participating in YAC,” he said. “We really want our students to participate.”

Ashcroft spoke of several other excursions and fundraisers that have been tapped. He also pointed out the mini plays put on by the drama class, which were also enjoyed by some elementary students and Hive students. He said there also are shop class excursions to the Home Builders Association for meet and greets.

“We don’t want to force things on them,” he said. “But we are getting things in front of these students’ faces so they’re experiencing a normal high school.”

Ashcroft also spoke of the high school’s craft show, saying it is slowly growing and that there were 21 vendors participating this year. From there, he moved on to another plan that affects the entire community.

“We’re going to start our holiday dinner once again, right before Christmas,” Ashcroft said. “We did that a few years, and obviously COVID stopped that, but we are going to bring that back to the community this year.”

Ashcroft said he and a handful of other administrators would be there serving this year.

“Serving dinner for whoever wants to show up, for free,” he said. “So, we’re trying to give back to the community and our kids.”

Ashcroft rounded out his update by lauding the progress made by students.

“We are seeing a difference this year,” he said. “Our kids are doing awesome. They really truly are – they’re doing awesome in school. Last year, in our attendance with less students, we were at about 86%. This year we have 30 more students than we had last year, and we’re at 94% attendance.”

Thus, the plan remains to continue putting things in front of students to get them excited.

The Harrison Community Schools Board of Education meets at 5:30 p.m. the second Monday of the month in the HCS Board Room at 224 W. Main St.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here