The 2017-2018 school year has arrived and we wanted to take a moment to introduce the school district to new families or to reintroduce it to our returning families.
The information contained in this section is just a way for families to quickly get what they need to start the school year off in the best way possible. It contains our standardized testing schedule, our major events calendar, some course selection information and a whole lot more.
New Programs/Initiatives for 2017-18
Each year, Deer Lakes introduces a number of new programs and initiatives that are designed to both inspire and challenge our students to reach greater heights than ever before. Below are just some of the programs we are offering this year that we find to be especially noteworthy.
One-to-One Technology Initiative
Starting this fall, Deer Lakes Middle School will expand its One-to-One Technology Initiative. Each student in that school will receive his or her own Google Chromebook as part of the program.
To prepare for the initiative, the district scheduled three separate training nights for students and their families. It will also hold a fourth training at 6 p.m. on Aug. 29 in the middle school gymnasium. It is geared towards families that could not attend any of the prior sessions.
The district recommends that each student also takes advantage of the technology protection plan, which costs $30 as insurance for any accidental damage to the device not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Families with more than one child in the middle school will receive a discounted rate.
The program, which was piloted in the middle school last year, will be tested in the high school this year in various subject areas with the goal of expanding full-time in the high school for the 2018-2019 school year.
Deer Lakes Middle School will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 29 to introduce its brand new, state of the art innovation center. The district spent much of the summer transforming its former middle school library into a 21st Century learning space, complete with dynamic classrooms, interactive video boards, walls that can be written on with dry erase markers and Makerspaces throughout.
The brand-new room, which took three months to complete and cost approximately $65,000, promises to fundamentally change the way students study, learn, discover and collaborate.
Library media specialist Christina Beaufort and Technology Director Dan Lauletta each spearheaded the project. The pair visited nine other area schools and incorporated some of the best practices they encountered into the new “IC” with the primary objective from the beginning being to create a more dynamic and functional space for today’s students.
“The way teachers deliver information and more importantly, the way students consume information has changed radically over the years,” said Beaufort . “Unfortunately, many school libraries haven’t kept pace with that cultural sea change and that hinders schools’ ability to reach their students.”
Finally, book lovers need not fear. The library has pared down some of its collection but many of the most important and/or popular books still remain.
“Physical hard copy books remain a very important part of any child’s education,” said Beaufort. “However, a modern school library is a lot more than just books and this innovation center really demonstrates that transformation in very dramatic ways.”
New Grading Scale: Secondary Schools
After many meetings involving key stakeholders like parents, teachers, administrators, board members and school counselors, Deer Lakes has decided to adopt the College Board grading scale.
The new scale, which will be implemented in grades 6-12 and was done in consultation with local educational experts, is designed to give colleges and universities a clearer picture of our students’ academic standing.
New School Counseling Plan Focuses on College and Career Readiness
In an initiative that began last year and will be fully integrated at all four schools this year, school counselors are implementing a new comprehensive Chapter 339 School Counseling Plan that focuses on a number of growth areas including college and career readiness.
The new plan, which has been developed over the past few years by school counselors as well as an advisory council composed of administrators, teachers, parents, community members and even students, is an effort to focus students on their post-Deer Lakes ambitions from their first day of kindergarten through the day they graduate from high school.
Last year, as part of the plan, Curtisville Primary Center held its first ever “Career Day” in which community members spoke to the children about their respective professions. Also, the high school had a few lunch and learn events. This year, all four schools will host similar events for our students and we would welcome anyone willing to participate in any of our college and career readiness events.
This year, students in grades 5-12, and their parents, will have access to the career cruising software program, where they can begin to explore careers, make a career portfolio, and conduct college searches among others. Also, all high school sophomores will be required to participate in a job shadowing experience.
According to assistant superintendent Bobbi-Ann Barnes, the new plan is designed to enable Deer Lakes students to make informed career decisions. “The district is dedicated to ensuring that every student has meaningful career exploration and career planning opportunities and a viable post-secondary plan by the time they graduate,” said Barnes.
As part of the district’s continuing efforts to add rigor to the curriculum, Deer Lakes is again adding AP course offerings this year.
After adding AP Physics I and AP Stats last year, Deer Lakes is expanding its AP offerings in STEM Robotics and Engineering, Psychology, Computer Science Principles and US History. The course offerings were added in part in response to student feedback asking for those classes.
Over the past three years, as part of its partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), Deer Lakes has added eight AP courses for its students.
Curtisville Fruit Orchard
In May, staff and parent volunteers, as well as students, at Curtisville Primary Center teamed up to plant a fruit orchard next to the school. Maintaining the orchard will be the responsibility of the students, parents and staff at Curtisville. The trees will be mature enough to begin harvesting in approximately three years. The event was made possible thanks to a grant from the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.
Zulama Gaming Series Expansion
Last year, to better engage students on their terms, Deer Lakes High School began offering courses through the Zulama gaming series called “The Evolution of Game Design” and “Game Programming 1.” The high school also offered classes in screen writing and 3D modeling as part of the comprehensive hybrid program.
Zulama gives schools a way to hook students by tapping into a topic they love — video games. The program, which was created by faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, delivers modern learning through blended and project-based approaches.
The semester-long courses are delivered through an online platform into the classroom. Students participate in hands-on, project-based activities and assignments that correlate to the PA Core State Standards.
This year, Deer Lakes is also adding courses called Game Maker Programming II and 3D Modeling II.
Thanks to some very generous grants from the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program as well as Let’s Move Pittsburgh and P3R, Curtisville Primary Center will introduce a new initiative this year called Revamped Recess.
The grants, which total approximately $6,000, have allowed the school district to purchase $2,000 in industrial blenders, which will be used district-wide for items like smoothies. The additional $4,000 was spent on paint supplies and other athletic equipment which are designed to transform the way Curtisville students experience recess.
Per Health and Wellness teacher Ron Nichols, the unpredictable climate in Western Pennsylvania can pose challenges when it comes to getting his students outside for recess.
“It rains a lot in this region and that can be tricky to get our students outside even long after the rain has stopped,” said Nichols.
Also, in the past, Deer Lakes, like many schools, would treat recess as a sort of free-for-all for its students. They would be left to their own devices to play pretty much however they wanted wherever they wanted. The new program will provide them with more structure and more organized areas in which to exercise and play.
Part of the expanded play area comes in the form of the school’s upper parking lot, which almost always sits empty. Now, thanks to the stencil area, Nichols and his colleagues can use that as one of three play stations – along with the playground and the grassy area adjacent to its which will now be called the organized activity area – to guide the students and teach them safe games that will allow them to exercise with a purpose and a benefit to their short term and long term health.
Some of the new games kids will be able to play in the painted playground include: four-square, hopscotch and agility ladders. Also, a walking track has been created around the play area.
“We are educators and just as it’s important to constantly reinforce the basics in areas like math and grammar, we must constantly work to instill in them ways exercise their bodies in safe and meaningful ways,” he said.
It is no secret that students need daily physical activity to support healthy growth and cognitive development. It is vital that we continue to build an active school environment that supports daily physical activity, quality physical education, recess and sports participation
Adding FitnessGram for Deer Lakes students in Grades 3-8 will allow them to be assessed in 12 different fitness areas and their teachers and parents can track their progress and identify areas in need of improvement.
DEER LAKES HIGH SCHOOL
New Student Orientation: Aug. 14; 6-8 p.m.
Open House: Sept. 6; 6 p.m.
DEER LAKES MIDDLE SCHOOL
Walking Tour Session 1: Aug. 15; 6-8 p.m.
Walking Tour Session 2: Aug. 17; 6-8 p.m.
Open House: Sept. 13; 6 p.m.
1:1 Student Info. Night (Gr. 8) : Aug. 9; 6 p.m.
1:1 Student Info. Night (Gr. 7): Aug. 10; 6 p.m.
1:1 Student Info. Night (Gr. 6): Aug. 16; 6 p.m.
EAST UNION INTERMEDIATE CTR
Open House Session 1: Sept. 5
Grade 3 and Grade 4 homerooms 404 and 405
Open House Session 2: Sept. 7
Grade 5 and Grade 4 homerooms 406, 407, 408, 409, 504 and 505
CURTISVILLE PRIMARY CENTER
Get Acquainted Day 1: Aug. 24; 9:30-11 a.m.
Get Acquainted Day 2: Aug. 25; 9:30-11 a.m.
Open House: Sept. 18; 6 p.m.