Human resources

Several resources available for Central students as they approach graduation

With graduation approaching, staff at Aberdeen Central High School ensure that students are all ready to graduate on time.

Assistant principal Jake Phillips helps keep tabs on graduation progress, with juniors and seniors scheduled to meet with a counselor during the school year, principal Jason Uttermark told the school board Monday evening.

Uttermark also discussed other ways the school helps ensure students pass all of their classes, such as in-depth math tutoring. Each teacher offers private lessons after school hours during the week and can be paid for this extra time if they stay in school long enough.

In addition to this, math professors from Northern State University visit the school on Tuesdays and Thursdays until 4 p.m. to offer tutoring assistance. It’s new for this year, Uttermark said. Although this tutoring is usually math-focused, it is also offered in other subjects.

Students can also tutor during the school day if they are at risk of failing a class, Uttermark said. This tutoring takes place during the last three weeks of each term, with students being removed from class if they are at risk of failing.

“Our first two terms — our failure rate is down and our math pass rate is up, and I think that has a lot to do with this tutoring that we’ve added during the school day,” Uttermark said.

At-risk students can also meet with the school’s SAT team, or the Student Support Team, if they have behavioral or academic issues. More students have been referred to the team since the pandemic began, Uttermark said.

Before graduating, students must also pass the National Career Readiness Certificate assessment, he said. This certificate is most useful for students undertaking two-year programs, but they are required to take the exam in case they need it.

Creation of a committee to boost morale at school

The school also recently formed a WOW committee, made up of teachers, uncertified staff, administration, and students. The committee’s goal is to boost morale and simply make school more fun, Uttermark said. The idea came from presenter Steve Bollar after discussing it at a conference in Orlando attended by several staff members. Since the committee has only met three times so far, it is just getting started. The committee meets every five to six weeks with the aim of boosting morale in the school.

“The things they have (are) really fun, and that’s just good for one game,” Uttermark said.

Some examples include a pancake breakfast for staff members and the incorporation of “dad jokes” in school announcements, which Uttermark says gets students excited.

Feedback from the internship program

The school’s internship program is also back and running. It took a dive during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many local businesses are hiring interns again.

Central High School seniors can complete up to two internships per year.

Special Education Director Renae Rausch also provided an update on the number of children in special education. State funding for the special education program depends on the number of eligible students, Rausch said. Students in the “emotionally disturbed” category increased by 14 from this year to last year, she said, with the percentage of students with special needs at around 20.3% in the district this year.

Because the state prefers the percentage of students in the program to be between 16 and 17 percent, students are first referred to the Student Support Team, where further accommodations can be made before ‘they aren’t recommended for special education,’ she said.