Poynette High School will receive a grant from the Department of Pubic Instruction to be used for a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program. The news was shared by Director of Student Services David Fischer at the Feb. 15 School Board meeting.

The grant will be used for events and other activities to teach about peer influence and ways to identify individuals who may need some support.

“With a focus on training Wisconsin students to recognize the signs of suicide shown by fellow students, peer-to-peer programs use messages of hope, health, and strength to develop peer leaders and resources for students who may be struggling,” the DPI stated in a previous news release. “Peer-to-peer training ensures that the people students are most likely to turn to in troubling times — their friends and classmates — have the knowledge and tools needed to recognize warning signs of suicide and depression, and be able to help their friends.”

All recipients of the grant can use the funds to support an existing peer-to-peer program or to implement one at their school. Grantees are highly encouraged to implement an evidenced-based program, such as Hope Squad or Sources of Strength.

Grants are for up to $1,000. It was not specified how much Poynette would be receiving.

In other news, the Board approved the addition of two courses to the list of classes in the summer school program that will be offered this year — the three-week program runs from June 14-July 1. The two classes are Creative Quest (for grades K-4) and Outdoor Art-ventures (for grades 5-12). Most courses are two hours and meet on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesday and Thursdays.

Creative Quest will be taught by fourth-grade teacher Halley Koelsch, will be two hours, and each session will meet twice a week. It is in the STEAM and reading curriculum areas and will be limited to 25 students. In this class, students will use their imagination to solve challenges, create projects, and design and perform experiments to promote learning and creativity in a fun and hands-on way.

Outdoor Art-ventures will be taught by Anne Crawford, will also be two hours and meet twice a week. It will be limited to 20 students. The class will be outside, but have indoor space if there is bad weather. In this class, students will explore their creativity as they observe the world around them. Students will learn how to transport materials to work on location, time management to complete artwork during class time, and use “portable” art-making materials.

Both classes will be free upon signing up.

Operations continue to run smoothly amid pandemic

District Administrator Matt Shappell provided a brief update on the COVID-19 impacts to the district. Currently, the COVID-19 positive cases have been “holding steady” within the district, he said, and are at a manageable place.

“Our mitigation efforts both behavioral (face coverings, social distancing, hygiene, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, etc.) and mechanical (UVGI lights, HEPA filters, MERV 13 filter material, etc.) continue to be effective,” Shappel said. He added that the staff and students in the three buildings have done “an amazing job to combat the virus.”

Also, a majority of the district’s staff will be eligible for vaccinations under the 1B group. Shappell is hopeful that vaccinations will be available by March 1. He said that the district is also working on hosting a vaccination clinic for staff when the time comes. Per a recent survey, Shappell said that “a vast majority” of staff is interested in receiving the vaccination. Staff may also go to their own health provider for vaccinations when available.

Open positions in the district

The district hired two long-term substitute teachers. Lexie Stark will teach reading intervention and science at the middle school, while Sally Betscher will teach physical education at the elementary and middle schools.

Bob Buss retired as an assistant football and track coach. Tyler Johnson will be the new football assistant coach. Kelsey Reidel will be the new assistant high school volleyball coach and Asa Odegaard will be an assistant football coach at the JV2 level.

The district has seven open positions — two custodians, an assistant track coach, a strength and speed coordinator for spring, an assistant baseball coach, a food service position and a special education paraprofessional.

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