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Preschoolers ‘read for the record’

PreK Kindergarten Center principal Bonnie Jones reads to students.A pajama party during school hours? What could be better? Getting to hear a great story like Llama, Llama, Red Pajama and have a snack, that’s what.

Pre-K children came to school October 6 wearing their PJ’s as part of the Read for the Record campaign to promote literacy and the importance of reading as well as help solve America’s early education achievement gap.

Each year a book is designated in each state  and school board members, city officials, community leaders, legislators and families pledge to sit down and read to children.

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BCHS pioneering online courses

 Nancy Masterson (standing) oversees the virtual lab.This year’s high school freshmen statewide must complete at least one course online before they graduate, but those at Baker County High School are among the few with a computer lab used exclusively to meet the requirement.

The new graduation requirement is among a host of new benchmarks being phased in during the coming years to improve students math and science skills before they reach college.

“This is something new for Florida,”  said BCHS principal Tom Hill the afternoon of August 25.  “And what’s really significant about it is that Baker County High School is one of the few schools in the entire state at this time to have a lab dedicated just to online learning.”

The virtual class being taught throughout the day in the lab to some 25 students is global studies, a course offered through Florida Virtual School that explores topics like human rights, the environment, global security, international economic systems and more.

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Wildcat band ranks ballooning

Band director Mike Warren during a recent practice at BCHS.Commitment to community is a fundamental part of what drives Mike Warren, the bank director at Baker County High School.

In the year since the young teacher took over the position, the number of participants in the school’s marching band has increased from 20 to the current 50 members.

Even record breaking heat didn’t stop the dedicated group of music students, along with majorette and color guard auxiliary units, from giving it everything they had during the recent week-long band camp August 1-5.

The group is gearing up for a colorful half-time show inspired by the musical Grease.

During camp, as students worked on one of the show’s compositions, Mr. Warren talked about his experience in Baker County so far and what the future holds.

“Segments of the Grease-inspired show will start appearing at football games as soon as the 2011-12 school year begins. The show, in its entirety, should be perfected by October,” he said.

It’s all part of a bigger plan to dazzle the judges in the up-coming Florida Bandmasters Association competition.

“The football games will be our dress rehearsals,” he said.

The turn-around in the marching band program is certainly worthy of note. After all, Mr. Warren is only 24 and Baker County is his first teaching position.


So what exactly has he been doing to increase interest and cement that kind of commitment from students?

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Updated: District retains a ‘B’ grade. Keller falls to ‘D’

The Baker County school district kept its overall B grade and the middle school remains an A school, according to school and district grades released by the Florida Department of Education June 30.

Keller Intermediate, however, fell two letter grades to become a D school for the first time since 2001-02.

The decline came in part because not enough low-performing students made reading gains on the 2011 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, administered last spring.

“Keller does a lot of good things academically … But there’s a select population that doesn’t perform well,” explained the school district’s director of accountability and testing, Susan Voorhees.

The state requires that at least 50 percent of students scoring in the bottom 25 percent in reading and math make gains within two year’s time. Schools failing to meet the requirement are penalized one letter grade.

This year 42 percent of the low-performing students at Keller made gains in reading and 54 percent made gains in math. Last year 46 percent showed reading gains and 56 percent showed math gains.

“It’s not an easy thing to take,” said Ms. Voorhees. “You would like to get the grade that you earned.”

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