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Community members from throughout the Marshall School District contribute ideas in how the district should move forward in preparing students for the next step after high school.

The Marshall School Board began reflecting on the district’s “Community Conversation,” a process that will ramp up in December and continue through the next several months.

The district hosted the event Nov. 10, 11 and 13 to reach out to, and communicate with community members to determine what residents want to see in prospective graduates, whether they enter the workforce, join the military or seek out more education.

The district worked with Drew Howick, who set up a similar conversation event in the DeForest School District and has been doing work like this for about 20 years.

One of the activities was a prompt to discuss and write down what the district should be doing in 2033 to ensure physical safety and social-emotional well-being.

“So, ultimately how do we imagine how a student is college, career and task ready,” Superintendent Dan Grady said at the Nov. 17 school board meeting.

On the final day of the conversation, there were presentations from five groups. Participants were tasked with jotting down themes. Then discussions broke out over those.

“There were multiple pages all separate. He made us look for real calming themes,” Grady said. “Then theme being ‘Marshall Proud’ is the one overarching all. The lead of all things.”

Then items were rated.

Frigo shared items that were called “What-nexts?”

“Our number-one theme was based on curriculum and academic performance, and Paul reminded us that is what a school does. That should always be a priority,” Frigo said. “So, in my mind, under Marshall Proud No. 1 has to be a subheader, a common priority.

“Identify the top five and then pull the administrative team and our leadership group, and task them with being a co-chair for each of the items. Coach them and teach them how to be leaders in those areas. Then, reach out to community members on creating a group and meeting with those leaders, whether it’s meeting on a monthly basis or something. One thing we need to do in order to be transparent is to come back in one year and report out, so then each of those five groups would report back to the same conversation group. Then, hopefully we have people coming back and set up goals for the future. I think what Dan mentioned is we have a lot of work to do with our scorecard. We have a lot of work to do with that and aligning our academics and curriculum.”

The plans for the event started in 2019 after Grady suggested having it. The board backed it with a motion to approve it, but then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, pushing back many events of significant size, including the conversation.

Prior to the pandemic, the district put together a design team that included people from the village, area townships and businesses.

“People put their heads together on ‘How can we create a community conversation where people wanted to attend?’ It’s a free event. It’s a huge commitment; we understand that,” Grady told the Medina Town Board Oct. 20 while promoting the event. “The why behind is to help us best understand what our community is saying. What do they expect from college-, career- and life-ready people?”

School board members were given gift bags prior to the meeting as a token of thanks for participating in the conversation. They were also prompted to come up with discussion points moving forward, particularly the next board meeting Dec. 1.

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