Saturday, February 27, 2021

Tomah students will have input for tentative prom

Tomah High School principal Robert Joyce thinks a prom and in-person graduation could happen this spring.

Joyce told the Tomah School Board at its meeting Monday night he wants to seek student feedback in prom planning to give them some ownership for an event that was canceled because of Covi-19 on 2020.

"I believe with proper (Covid) mitigation rules we could do a senior/junior prom," Joyce said. "We will take it to the students to get input on ideas to make this happen."

Joyce said students could work with THS health occupations teacher Whitney Sanjari on coordinating a prom to meet Covid safety restrictions.

The prom would recognize juniors and seniors. A 2020 prom court was acknowledged last year but then junior members missed out on the related activities. A firm date was not set, but Joyce sees the prom being scheduled in May to allow more time to monitor Covid's presence.

Regarding graduation, Joyce said the intent is to hold an outdoor social distanced event. While specifics were not discussed, Joyce said seniors could possibly be recognized in two groups. Faced with Covid in 2020 numerous school districts were featured in local news stories where students were spaced safely in large areas, most often football fields.  

All that is certain is school administration want to offer a traditional graduation ceremony, not virtual, Joyce added. More details will be discussed at the board's March meeting for both events.

In more Covid discussion, superintendent Dr. Mike Hanson said he hopes to have more information to share in March regarding increased in-person student instruction in the district for the latter part of the school year.

THS band director Charlie O'Brien and choral director Chloe Gorman provided brief updates on how they hope to end a full Covid school year on a positive note for band and choir students.

There has been no pep band at sporting events, no show choir competitions. Gorman said she has been doing virtual singing lessons with students. There is some hope for choir members to be able to perform outdoors in the spring to give seniors the chance to perform.

O'Brien said he surveyed 10 area band directors on their Covid instruction. All 10 have been offering indoor class instruction following safety. O'Brien is confident there is ample room in the THS band room for indoor instruction.

"I feel we have the means to do it safely," O'Brien said.

Board member Brian Hennessey wanted the board and administration to be aware that while he understood decisions to limit band and choir performances due to Covid, he said " a lot" of parents with children involved with fine arts were upset that a full slate of sports were allowed to carry on in the fall and winter.

While Gorman's choir programs absorbed a significant blow, she understood decisions that were made.

"We want to treat (activities) the same, but we know they aren't all the same," Gorman said. "With band and choir it's all about the air (students breathe)."

How band and choir activity will look into spring and the remainder of the school year will depend on Covid data in the district. Joyce did say he wants the high school to be able to perform a musical if possible.

General consensus from the board, thanks to district fine arts instructors for a challenging school year. More specifics to come in March.

Hanson told the board the first meeting of a community stakeholder facility plan committee (CSFPC) is set for Tuesday, Feb. 23 at Tomah middle school. An informal walk through the building set for 5:30 p.m. The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

Hanson has to confirm "a couple" more names to join the committee, he added. Its intent is to provide a recommendation to the school board that addresses district facility needs. Tim Ruppert, Brad Simonson, and Lee Qu from HSR Associates will facilitate the focus group's work

"Community Focus Group membership comes from our district and community representing stakeholders served by the Tomah area schools," Hanson said. Meetings are scheduled once per month February through May with an optional June meeting if needed.  The first meeting is set for Tuesday, February 23rd. Committee meeting agendas will be posted to the school district website. 

In other business:

The board of education approved Daryl Kirchner for the position of transportation director to replace Jeff Moody who is retiring. Kirchner has past experience with district transportation in a supervisor role before leaving the district for another job opportunity.

The board approved a request to purchase replacement computers for the 2021-22 school year.

Approved amending 2021-2022 Lemonweir Elementary School calendar with a July 13 start date. 

Resignations/Retirements all effective June 3

Trey Hewuse, Special Education Teacher at THS 

Charles O’Brien, Band Director at THS 

Nicole Raboine, Kindergarten Teacher at LaGrange Elementary  

Julie Degenhardt, 3rd Grade Teacher at LaGrange Elementary (retiring)

Mike Lyga, 5th Grade Teacher at Wyeville Elementary (retiring)

Kay Picha, Instructional Coach at TMS (retiring)

Terri Whereatt, Special Education Teacher at TMS (retiring)

Thomas Wilkinson, Health Teacher at TMS (retiring)

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