OPINION

Superintendent's Corner: Nordonia Hills schools recognize students, staff; plan for summer, upcoming year

Dr. Joe Clark, Superintendent
Nordonia Hills City Schools

The 2020-21 school year is over, and it ended with a bang! The Nordonia High School Class of 2021 earned more than $13 million in scholarships, obliterating the old record by more than $5 million. We are also proud that they completed more than 40,000 hours of community service.

The annual NHS Superintendent’s Awards were presented at an event on May 18 to the top 10% of the senior class. This is always such an incredible night and a time to validate all the hard work Nordonia staff does and the importance of developing strong relationships with students. 

Seniors recognized were: Mikala Bell, Kent State University; Bailey Coon, University of Akron; Serene Fawaz, Kent State University; Madeline Ford, Baldwin Wallace University; Cole Bagel, Rochester Institute of Technology; Robin Ghotra, Case Western Reserve University; Jacob Grams, University of Akron; Greta Heiser, College of Wooster; Matthew Kerosky, University of Notre Dame; Jason Kodek, University of Akron; Cole Kowatch, The Ohio State University; Claire Kremyar, The Ohio State University; Serena Long, West Virginia University; Aleana Mason, The Ohio State University; Alyssa McHugh, Ohio University; Lydia McKinley, Kent State University; Cade Mercer, Kent State University; Riley Monroe, The Ohio State University; Lauleen Multani, Kent State University; Caroline Orzechowski, University of Cincinnati; Lorna Picoult, Bowling Green State University; Grace Renier, Miami University of Ohio; Shane Robinson, Mercyhurst University; Diesel Roganish, The Ohio State University; Taniah Thomas, The Ohio State University; Olivia Tindall, The Ohio State University; Jennifer Tomak, University of Cincinnati; Jake Tomkovicz, The Ohio State University; Emily Vu, Amherst College; Julia Walsh, Ohio University; Evan White, University of Oklahoma; Sam Wiehe, University of Houston; and Spencer Will, University of Cincinnati.

And congratulations to these staff members who were recognized: Doug Arbuckle, Matt Beery, Linda Chaloupka, Aaron Coleman, Laura Collins, Pam Conte, Josh Davis, Heather Dean, Vanessa DeBoo, Tracey Evans, Linda Luce, Barb McMichael, Erin Miller, Nickolas Patterson, Emily Rion, John Smoleny, Konni Stagliano, Sandra Stanley, Endre Szentkiralyi, and Kevin Tanner (posthumously).

Busy summer ahead

Business Office Projects: Nordonia is the only school district in Summit County without a dedicated permanent improvement levy, which means revenue from the general operating fund must be used to pay for all of our maintenance and repairs. As you remember, voters approved an operating levy in 2019. It will be a busy summer, and we are grateful for the voters who made the following work possible.

The roof at the high school will see the most amount of work of any of our facilities, as we are in year five of our roofing resurfacing plan. At an estimated cost of $500,000 we will be focusing on resurfacing work on sections G-P. Included in this scope of work will be updated thermal scans so we know how to best budget for future work. We plan to work with our custodial team and students for service hours to spruce up several of our restrooms. We will also be installing a dozen security cameras throughout the building. Finally, at NHS, we plan to install double doors off of Broman Commons (what many of you know as the cafeteria) for students to better access the courtyard for outdoor learning and lunch.

In athletics, work has begun on replacing the turf at Boliantz Stadium. At a total cost of $414,687, we have proudly raised over $230,000 in private funding toward the cost of replacement. We will also be making improvements to the baseball and softball fields, and starting a more comprehensive seeding and maintenance program with those facilities. Finally, if you haven’t seen it yet, check out our huge new American flag proudly flying atop a huge new flagpole. The star-spangled banner will never be hidden by the scoreboard again.

All buildings will have all flooring surfaces deep cleaned and waxed as needed. We will be patching various trouble spots of the roofs, as well as conducting new thermal scans. Asphalt and paving will see the normal repairs at all schools, with no major issues on the horizon, and we will also make lighting improvements in our parking areas for staff and community safety. 

At the middle school we will be installing a dozen security cameras throughout the building. We will also create partitions in the great space for more breakout learning areas. 

At Lee Eaton and Ledgeview, we will be adding half a dozen security cameras throughout each building, and installing new fire panels, making us compliant with most recent Fire Codes. We will also renovate some aging restrooms at Lee Eaton.  

At Northfield, the music room will get a new sound amplification system, and many rooms and spaces will get fresh paint. We will be installing two additional water bottle filler stations at Rushwood, as well as adding additional storage cubbies throughout all classrooms. 

Curriculum Office Projects: This summer, the curriculum office is spearheading five different summer programs to help students that fell behind this past school year.  Two programs are taking place at the high school.  One program is our traditional online summer institute. The high school is also offering in-person opportunities as well.  For students coming into grades 1-8, there is an opportunity to fill learning gaps by participating in an in-person program.  This program was by invite, as the district is targeting a specific population to support.  In addition, anyone in grades K-8 has the opportunity to participate in an online program that will support all learners' needs.  Finally, the district will continue to support the SPARK program in August for some of our incoming kindergarten students.  This program is in conjunction with Summit Education Initiatives and the Akron Housing Authority.  We are grateful for their partnerships as we help to prepare our students for the transition to kindergarten.  Aside from the SPARK program, the summer programming is being paid through federal funds the district has received throughout the pandemic.

The year ahead

Aside from the summer programming, the curriculum office is preparing for next school year over the summer.  There are several major projects that we will be focusing on, some in conjunction with the Business Department.

First is the Innovation Lab at Nordonia High School. Two years ago, the district completed the Portrait of a Graduate work with community stakeholders. As a result of that work, one of the projects that we started to implement before the pandemic was to open an innovation lab at the high school. This lab will contain many of your traditional pieces of equipment that you would expect to see from an industrial workshop classroom. But in addition to those pieces of equipment, the district will be adding new technology such as laser cutters, vinyl printers, computers, Glowforge Premium technology, 3D printers, and much more. We have big plans for this space, so stay tuned.

We are also creating a Media Production Lab at Nordonia High School. This will include new lighting, sound paneling, microphones, software, and cameras. Students will be writing, producing, directing, and creating television programming.

Three new Project Lead the Way classes being offered at Nordonia Middle School. Beginning next school year the middle school will be offering a rotation of Project Lead the Way classes. Students can begin the Project Lead the Way series by participating in Design and Modeling at Lee Eaton. We will continue to offer Robotics at NMS. Also as part of the rotation of classes, we will start to offer Flight and Space during the 2021-22 school year.  In the 2022-23 school year, the curriculum office will begin supporting a Computer Science course and a course called Medical Detectives at NMS. Regardless of the course title, teachers go through rigorous training over the summer and the curriculum office will support their materials and equipment needs each summer as well.

Finally, in grades K-1, we are rolling out two new pilot programs. At Ledgeview, students will be introduced to a new program called Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA). CKLA is a comprehensive language arts curriculum program for students in preschool through grade 5. While teaching skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking, CKLA also builds students’ knowledge and vocabulary in literature, history, geography, and science. This program was selected to pilot due to its focus on the science of reading philosophies. 

At Rushwood and Northfield, students will be introduced to a new phonics based program called Wilson Fundations. As a recognized leader in multisensory, structured language programs, Wilson brings more than a decade of systematic and explicit instruction to the K-3 classroom. Based on the Wilson Reading System principles, Wilson Fundations provides research-based materials and strategies essential to a comprehensive reading, spelling, and handwriting program.

As we gauge the success of these pilot programs, we will later determine if we will implement them district-wide.

Technology upgrades

Technology Office Projects: Over the summer, the Nordonia Technology Department will provision 850 Chromebooks for our incoming third grade, eighth grade and new students. This is part of the standard Chromebook refresh for our 1:1 initiative. In conjunction with the Curriculum Department, we will again stage a contactless drive-up deployment for our families. This will be held over a span of three evenings in August.

Over the course of the 2020-21 school year, we finished the deployment of our new wireless infrastructure. This summer we will be fine-tuning our network and implementing upgraded wireless connectivity at the High School stadium.

The Technology Department will also be working with CDWG to replace our antiquated virtual server environment. This large-scale project will migrate our existing virtual servers to a more reliable and scalable model. In addition, we will also be migrating our current backup solution to the cloud, for more consistent and dependable backups.

With the help of our maintenance department, we will begin the process of replacing our SMART Boards/Projectors in many of our district classrooms. This project will take place over the coming school year but will begin this summer. We will be migrating to 75” Interactive Displays that offer better functionality and Chromebook integration.

It will be a busy summer! As always, thanks for supporting the Nordonia Schools and remember to follow me on Twitter @JoeSuperintend1.