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Hudson School District has seen many accomplishments

Director of Student Services Cory McIntyre, left, and School Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten told Rotarians last week that the state of the school system is very strong. Hudson schools started Wednesday, Sept. 1. Photo by Doug Stohlberg

The new school year began in Hudson Wednesday morning, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,400 to 5,500 students expected in the district's six elementary schools, middle school and high school.

School Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten and Director of Student Services Cory McIntyre told members of the Hudson Rotary Club last week that the state of the school system is very strong. Students in Hudson schools have accomplished many milestones in the past year and the district has implemented many programs to assist students.

Bowen-Eggebraaten credited the districts "HSD Vision" for much of the success.

McIntyre agreed.

"This is my fourth district and I've never been to a district so committed to a vision," McIntyre said.

The vision's stated purpose is to "prepare each student for post-secondary success through a culture of excellence in:

  • Challenging academics;
  • Critical thinking;
  • Purposeful collaboration;
  • Applied innovation;
  • Global stewardship; and
  • Challenging students and graduates to become informed, caring contributors."

    Bowen-Eggebraaten said many of the 38 new teachers and certified staff hired by the district were attracted by the vision.

    "It stood out with the new teachers during interviews," Bowen-Eggebraaten said. "I've never heard that from new teachers before."

    Bowen-Eggebraaten and McIntyre presented a long list of student accomplishments, ranging from increases in academic accomplishments for all ages and decreases in the number of "at risk" and struggling students. They also were proud of the numbers of students participating in extracurricular activities such as sports (669); band, choir, orchestra (515 at the high school and 485 at the middle school); academic co-curricular (798), etc.

    The district is also proud of the accomplishments in the area of developmental assets.

    "The developmental assets have seen increases in 37 of 40 categories, amounting to an increase of 92 percent in areas such as achievement motivation, caring school climate, engagement in school activities, bonding and adult relationships.

    "All members of the community have helped tremendously in increasing our positive developmental asset," McIntyre said. "That includes adults in the community, churches, organizations, etc."

    Likewise, risky behavior has seen an 87 percent decrease in behaviors such as alcohol use, smoking, trouble with police, skipping school, hitting someone, etc. There was a reduction in 21 of 24 areas.

    Bowen-Eggebraaten also touched on improvements in environmental sustainability.

    Among the number of items to improve sustainability was a big savings in gas and electric use at the new River Crest Elementary

    "It is using 45 percent less than buildings with conventional construction," Bowen-Eggebraaten said. "Making that even better is that it was predicted that the building would have a savings of about 30 percent."

    The district also has outdoor learning sites at each school and three dedicated school forests.

    Bowen-Eggebraaten said the biggest challenge currently is the preparations for the upcoming school year.

    "The district is still increasing in size and enrollment is still growing," she said. "The middle school was 86 over capacity last year and it is currently the largest middle school in the state."

    The district is currently making $2 million in additions to the building, but Bowen-Eggebraaten suggested to Rotarians that the district is going to have to plan for secondary expansion sometime in the future.

    "This (addition) is a short-term solution," Bowen-Eggebraaten said. "We need to start talking about secondary space and will need a good plan. That won't happen overnight."

    The pair also highlights several new courses at the high school and middle school. Among them are new pre-engineering courses, renewable energy courses and online classes.

    Among the district goals discussed were:

  • Advisories - connecting a student with the same staff person for a student's entire high school career. Students would meet regularly with that individual.
  • Small learning communities - creating smaller learning units in a high school that has nearly 1,700 students. The concept would be to have almost four small schools within the one big umbrella.
  • Project-based learning.
  • Transitions - helping students at different levels. For instance, a freshman has many different transition needs than a senior.

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