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Making the grade

LRHSD

Out with the old, in with the new.

As the class of 2019 prepares to begin their high school careers, and the Lenape Regional High School District gets set to embark on another year of excellence, they looked back at the year that was during last week’s final board of education meeting before the school year kicks off.

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The class of 2015 was a special one that has gone off in their separate directions to chase their dreams but not before leaving a distinct mark on the district.

Students from this class earned an average score of 1591 on the SAT. This is noteworthy because, according to the College Board, a student with an SAT score of 1550 or higher is more likely to get a B- their freshman year of college.

“This is indicative of college success and completion,” district Director of Programs and Planning Matthew Webb said.

The class of 2015 had a graduation rate of 96 percent. This qualifies as above average for Burlington County, New Jersey and on a national scale.

Each school has widely celebrated its students’ college acceptances a number of different ways, using its websites, videos, pennants, shirts, tweets and even ceremonies such as the academic award night some schools held.

“I have to say I am extremely pleased with our principals and how they have celebrated their students’ college acceptances,” Webb said.

Last school year was also the best one the district has ever had in terms of students taking AP classes and AP tests.

However, academic tests were not the only thing on which these students scored highly. Last year’s students also scored well on the harassment, intimidation and bullying assessment, being awarded 74 out of 78 total potential points.

Each school has to provide a self-assessment to the state for review, and once this grade is approved by the state, it has to be posted on each school’s website.

“We have an award-winning harassment, intimidation and bullying program that we are proud of,” Webb said.

Webb is referring to the district’s “Step Up and ID program” it plans to continue to build on through seeking teen input.

“Our program encourages every student to walk the walk and defend their friends and classmates if they’re ever harassed or bullied for any reason. It empowers every student and all four Lenape high schools to stand up, step up and be an ‘upstander’ not a bystander,” District Superintendent Carol Birnbohm said.

For the third consecutive year, all four schools have been deemed a “no place for hate” by the Anti-Defamation League Program. Each school will receive its award for this accomplishment during the week of respect in October.

These exceptional students shined outside of the classroom as well, excelling in different things such as community service. Students from across the district partook in in the fifth annual Senior Day of Service last year. They also participated in a clothing drive for Goodwill, collecting an overwhelming 56,373 pounds of clothes to donate to the organization. Cherokee edged out Seneca in pounds per student and was awarded a plaque from Goodwill.

“We enjoy a friendly competition, but this is for a great cause,” Webb said.

School officials could not say enough about their excitement for this year to get underway. The new schedule was a particular highlight on this list of new initiatives.

It was a very long, collaborative process that lead the district to this schedule change, a process that included 48 teachers, 47 students and 23 editors — administrators, custodians, sports staff and child study team members, to name a few

The district made it a point last year to focus on communicating the schedule and finalizing the details to be ready to roll when the 2015–2016 year begins on Sept. 8.

“We feel there are several benefits to this new schedule,” Webb said.

Increasing instructional time with longer periods, increasing staff collaboration, having a common lunch and reducing academic stress are a few advancements Webb touched on.

The district was also proud to announce its participation in the statewide “You Got Brains” competition. Fifty-nine New Jersey schools competed in the fifth annual You Got Brains competition sponsored by the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey.

LDTV won for the third year in a row and the fourth year in the last five years of the competition with its “heads up, eyes forward” message.

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes for brain injuries. LDTV’s message has been displayed on 160 state Department of Transportation digital message boards.

The LRHSD is very excited about its new app that will make its debut this year as well.

The creation of this app has been a yearlong process that has included input from various students. The app includes several features such as being able to customize it to your respective schools, receiving timely news from your school, parents being able to sign up for grade alerts, parents being able to deposit money in their child’s lunch accounts and parents being able to view the four-day rotating schedule.

“This is just scratching the surface of what this app can do,” Webb said.

As of Aug. 24, there were 4,700 downloads to date, and the board anticipates that number to rise.

Another project that will be debuting in all four schools this year is the Project Lead The Way Program, which was only implemented at Lenape and Seneca last year. It is a national program that develops STEM curriculum in high schools.

“STEM is where jobs are today and where the growth is going to be,” Webb said.

Lastly, the district wanted to show its gratitude in regard to donation numbers from last year totaling almost $88,000. This adds to the nearly $2.5 million that has been donated to the school district since it started keeping track of donations in 2007.

A large chunk of these donations have gone to things such as turf fields at Shawnee and Cherokee, and numerous driving simulators for drivers education classes at all four of the high schools.

These donations are publicly recognized at the monthly board meetings.

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