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Milwaukie High School's programs honored nationally


by: PHOTO COURTESY: NORTH CLACKAMAS SCHOOL DISTRICT - Choir performance at Milwaukie High School shows students with access to rigorous college-prep classes and competitive arts courses.ASCD, the international education leadership association, announced on Tuesday that Milwaukie High School is the 2013 winner of the association’s Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award.

MHS staff demonstrated dedication to the needs of the whole child exceeding all the other schools throughout North America, the organization noted, through their focus on professional development that supported the concept of “equity in action” during the 2011-12 school year to address social justice and equity issues. School personnel have participated in an equity training program called, “Taking it Up,” and the school administrative team will attend a five-day equity training event in the coming months.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: NORTH CLACKAMAS SCHOOL DISTRICT - Since Milwaukie High's new Health & Wellness Center opened this fall, school attendance has improved. The grant-funded project, in cooperation with medical provider Outside In, provides free on-campus medical, mental health (and soon, dental) services to students.In August, a 2,800-square-foot, state-of-the-art health center was opened on the MHS campus to meet the health needs of students. To fund this initiative, school staff helped raise more than $600,000. No district dollars were used to fund the center, whose medical sponsor, Outside In, provides medical, emotional, and dental health services free to all students.

Principal Mark Pinder is scheduled to accept the award on behalf of his school from ASCD leader Gene R. Carter at ASCD’s conference in Chicago on Sunday, March 17.

The award recognizes schools that move beyond a vision for educating the whole child to actions that result in learners who are knowledgeable, emotionally and physically healthy, civically active, artistically engaged, prepared for economic self-sufficiency, and ready for the world beyond formal schooling. MHS has opened enrollment to 25 freshmen and sophomores this fall from designated by a School Board vote on Feb. 28, and applications are due by the end of March.

“Milwaukie’s staff works tirelessly to improve their students’ academic, social, and emotional growth,” Carter said, “to expand their educational practices; and sharpen the administration’s focus on staff professional development, all to meet the needs of the whole child. Their efforts and results are impressive, and we salute them for this tremendous accomplishment.”

Aiming to be the best

Incoming MHS students’ reading and math proficiency are assessed by trained staff and additional supplementary reading and math courses are provided as needed. Also, teams of staff meet once a week with a group of school counselors, mental and physical health providers, social workers, and administrators to discuss ways to support at-risk students. During these meetings, participants collaborate to build individual intervention plans for these students, which can include academic support, mental or physical health care or other social services. After implementing these initiatives, the school has seen improvements in reading and math achievement in participating students, and its graduation rate has steadily improved beyond Oregon state’s average.

“The staff at Milwaukie High believes that there is more to education than just to teach a student how to read, write and think critically,” Pinder said. “The physical and emotional well-being of the student must be nurtured as a part of teaching and learning. When the whole child is educated at Milwaukie High, we are guaranteeing that we will produce a graduate ready to participate as an active, contributing community member.”

The strong sense of service Milwaukie High School teachers demonstrate is mirrored in their students’ participation in the community. Students support the American Red Cross through two annual blood drives and The American Cancer Society through the Think Pink Week and Relay for Life programs. The school’s Habitat for Humanity chapter builds homes year-round, enabling students to help eradicate homelessness in the area. Milwaukie students are also active in a number of environmentally focused efforts, including wetland restoration and salmon hatching projects, as well as internship and practicum programs conducted in coordination with the Sabin Schellenberg Professional Technical Center.

“North Clackamas Schools understands that to build equity and to close the achievement gap, we must level the playing field for each student by first providing for their most basic needs,” said Superintendent Matt Utterback. “Medical, mental health and dental health services are the foundation. A culturally competent staff builds on that foundation. Instructional mastery leverages students’ academic potential. Students understand the relevancy of their learning through service learning opportunities, career-technical programs and the performing arts. It takes each of these pieces, working together, to provide whole child education at Milwaukie High.”