This past year was very busy around the campus of Onekama Consolidated Schools as we were able to fully implement the programming in the new 14.2 million dollar renovation and addition that opened to the students on April 6th, 2010. This new addition is highlighted by a full size, 1000 person capacity gymnasium, a 300 person cafetorium, modern full capacity kitchen, state of the art band room and performing stage, art studio with clay room and computerized graphic arts, a walking track and a community fitness room, and full time daycare. These enhancements allowed over 500 community members to use the fitness center and walking track on a regular basis, allowed us to host districts in volleyball, and boys’ and girls’ basketball, expanded community recreation classes, and saw a 30% increase in school lunch participation by implementing the Farm to School “home cooked” food service program.
Next, our students, when tested, scored in the top 5% in the state as measured by the Michigan MEAP. On the national standardized Iowa Test of Basic Skills given to our 1st through 8th graders, the students ranked above or at grade level equivalent or exceeding their peers across the country. Locally, in the recently released Michigan Merit exam, given to 11th graders, Onekama students out performed all other districts in Manistee County, exceeding the state average. In the college readiness report prepared by the state of Michigan, Onekama students were top in the county and region. We are also proud that we graduated 100 percent of our students and out of the 24 graduates, all (100%) have been accepted to a college or university.
Also, during the next year we plan to continue the implementing of the latest technology; integrating into the instructional arsenal of our teachers. The recent purchase of 70 iPADS will allow our students to participate in using the latest technology to enhance student learning. These devices will be used to allow the students to have real-time data access, access to online literature, hundreds of free learning applications and exposure to the devices which are commonplace in businesses and industry today.
In addition, we will continue to use technology in the High School to expand course offerings using Virtual University. The Virtual University allows junior and seniors to take online classes from “highly qualified” instructors from around the state and country without leaving campus. These learning opportunities allow students from a small school like Onekama to be able to take unique courses that are only offered in a much larger city or suburban district.
The community recreation program saw huge participation last year in its first full year of implementation and we plan on expanding the high demand courses and adding new offerings as desired by the community for 2011/2012.
New in 2010/2011 was the implementation of an elementary volunteer program. This successful program saw over 30 plus volunteers help in the classroom. We plan on expanding the volunteer program into the middle and high school this year and also add a career awareness component. We are fortunate to have highly skilled, knowledgeable residents in our community who are willing to donate their time assisting the youth.
Finally, the success of our district hinges on the support of our parents, students, community members, teaching staff and support staff. Our staff has integrated modern technology, smart boards, internet, lap tops, distance learning, online courses, and virtual lessons, into proven delivery techniques and embraced these technologies that are exemplified by our students’ success. The recent state funding crisis has effected us all and we continue to cut costs in many departments. However, through wage concessions and co-pay of insurance from the staff we have been able to reinstate most of our laid off staff members. Fortunately, the district continues to move forward in difficult economic times and I am proud to work for, and be a parent of students attending, an excellent educational institution.
Kevin P. Hughes, Superintendent
Posted Sept. 30, 2011