The Block Island Times

School Scoop: "Close up" trip to DC

By Gloria S. Redlich | Feb 05, 2012

Close Up trip to DC

In addition to projects taking place in classrooms, a number of extra-curricular ones are in the works this week at the Block Island School.

Social Studies teacher Shannon Booth announces that six students have signed up to participate in the annual spring trip to Washington DC known as “Close Up.” It is a nationally sponsored trip that brings high school students from across the country to have a ‘close up’ look at the federal government in action.

In addition to visits to monuments and memorials and the most well-known icons of the national capital — including Congress when in session — students participate in seminars with persons directly involved in the system of American politics, such as journalists, lobbyists and members of Congress and of the Armed Services.

This is the first year the island school has opened participation to all high school students, drawing in two juniors, one sophomore and three freshmen. In the past, the excursion was open only to seniors.

Because the costs run generally high — in the range of $1,600 to $1,700 per individual— Booth and the students are in the process of mounting a fundraiser to sell Little Caesar Pizza Kits throughout the community. The goal is to raise $5,000. Booth said the school underwrites a part of the expenses and any money not raised will need to be made up by the students’ families.

Booth is also working with gym teacher John Tarbox on a project they’re calling “Move-a-thon,” meant to help students to document their exercise. Having begun early in January, the program will run to February 15. Booth pointed out they are in the process of recruiting sponsors to make contributions underwriting individual student’s efforts. The proceeds of monies so raised will be used to purchase exercise equipment for the school.

For those interested, sign-up sheets will be available in the school’s main office.

Doing something for the community

In the interest of giving something back to the community they’ve grown up in, members of the Student Council have searched about to find a community landmark in need of expanded attention. Finding the stones and markers at the historic Island Cemetery in need of cleaning, they are raising funds to help make that happen.

Council officers are Grace O’Neill, president; Alex Brady, vice president; and Tom Conant, treasurer. The latter two recently describe other activities sponsored by the Student Council, among which have been basketball and volleyball competitions between freshmen and seniors and juniors and sophomores, with “the class that wins getting a prize.”

Conant and Ryan add that they and their classmates are looking forward to “Spirit Week” — the first one in March — and are still in the process of selecting a theme for it.

PBIS comes to the island school

School social worker Summer Riker is the facilitator of a team established by the administration to help implement a program of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports within the local school. Established nationally and underwritten by the United States Department of Education, the program is described as intended to create “a safe and supportive learning environment, promote life skills and reduce negative behaviors.”

To those ends, a team is gathered comprised of educators, parents and community members. Riker says her team is made up of Lisa Robb, Megan Hennessey, Marlee LaCoste and Barbie Michel and four parents. Co-principal John Canole represents the school’s administrators.

At the moment, Riker explains that she and team members are still incorporating suggestions and ideas. To that end they are currently in the process of gathering “feed-back from the rest of the school staff.” After that phase, she indicates the group will begin to consider ways to tailor a program appropriate to the island school.

Honor Society

National Honor Society advisor Amy Dugan says the selection process has begun for future induction of members of this year’s junior class. She notes four students have been selected as eligible to undergo the preliminary process. They are Alex Brady, Tom Conant, Jaixen Hall and Madison Tretheway.

The standards they must meet include having a grade point average that has never dropped beneath 85 since ninth grade, and they must submit several letters of recommendation from their teachers. Final approval will come from the National Honor Society Faculty Council.

A food drive sponsored by the Honor Society is just coming to a close, Dugan says. She adds that yearbook production is on track and the book will be released during the second week of May.

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