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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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3rd graders tied for 2nd highest in reading test

Third grade teachers at Macclenny Elementary Sarah Godwin and Sherri Jackson.“We made history.”

That was the message from school district officials the morning of May 26 after they saw the third grade FCAT reading and math test results released by the Florida Department of Education.

Third graders at Macclenny Elementary and Westside Elementary posted the second-highest reading scores in the state along with St. Johns County students.

Macclenny Elementary third graders, teachers and administrators.

Eighty-seven percent of the students scored “proficient” on the reading portion of the test, which is defined as a score of 3 or higher on the FCAT’s 5-point scale.

Only Santa Rosa County performed better on the reading exam with 88 percent scoring proficient.

State-wide, 72 percent of students scored a 3 or above.

Susan Voorhees, the district’s director of accountability, and Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson were ecstatic about the results.

“I cried all morning,” said Ms. Raulerson, who met with teachers and students to announce the good news.

 

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