The Clintonian

‘Big Brothers, Big Sisters’ program coming to South Vermillion Schools

Program will pair high school and Central students, expand to other schools starting next school year

Plans are underway to bring a Big Brothers Big Sisters program to South Vermillion Schools, beginning with South Vermillion High School and Central Elementary School, and expanding to include other schools in the future.

High School Principal Kara Skinner and Central Principal Ryan Jenkins presented information about the plan to the school board at their March 17 meeting.

The program is a variation on the traditional Big Brothers Big Sisters program, which typically involves adults working with young people, and would involve high school “Bigs” working with Central “Littles” a couple of times a month after school, supervised by staff members.

Skinner said 11 high school students had applied to participate so far, and that she predicted the experience would be as fulfilling for the high school students as it is helpful to the younger students.

“Bigs” would be trained by Chances and Services for Youth as part of a newer program called “High School Bigs.” Representatives of Chances said the focus is often on the benefit to the “littles” but that the impact on the “bigs” is often overlooked.

The program was to start during the end of this school year with Central and eventually expand to include the other elementary schools as well. It will include homework help, snacks, activities and free time for the “bigs” and “littles” to get to know each other and do things together.

Efforts will be made to pair up older and younger students who share similar interests. The elementary counselors will help choose students at their schools for the program.

Over time, the goal is to expand into the traditional community program as well, by getting adult “bigs” involved in the future. The principals said they were working to identify “littles’ at Central to match up with the high school students.

Following the presentation, the board expressed its support for the program.

In other business, Superintendent David Chapman reported a continued drop in COVID-19 cases in the corporation, with only one student and no staff cases since Feb. 16. He said he had met with the new county health officer, Dr. Paula Market, on how to move forward. He said the goal is to maintain protocols for anything that might happen, but continue moving to a more “normal” state within the schools.

Already, the requirement of masks in school has been lifted and students have resumed eating in the cafeterias. Chapman announced that field trips are also being reinstated, and that he has a stack of requests on his desk awaiting approval.

Other things being looked at in the future are the resumption of open swim hours at the high school pool and the rental of the pool which he said they are not ready to resume yet, but will be looked at more closely in the future. He said he hopes if cases continue to be minimal that those things can be considered over the summer.

Chapman also announced that a 20-person Facilities Advisory Committee is being formed, including administrators, teachers, parents and community members, to help review options and make recommendations for future updates to school facilities, following presentations made in recent months regarding possible changes to the elementary schools, especially. The board approved a resolution establishing the committee.

Under personnel the board approved a leave of absence for Centra Elementary teacher Alisa VanDeusen and accepted the resignation of middle school FACS teacher Beverly Miller and high school special education teacher Jim Foster. The board also approved the retirement of Central functional special education teacher Bethany Karanovich after 28 years of service.

The board also accepted the resignation of Ernie Pyle behavior interventionist Anne Schrader and unpaid leave of absence as needed for Central functional instructional aide Tori Earehart beginning March 16. Unpaid leave was also approved beginning March 1 for transportation employee Mary Jennings.

The board approved the retirement of bus driver Nancy Dreher with 21 years of service and approved unpaid leave days as needed for Ernie Pyle Cook Kelly Spurlock, high school special education instructional assistant Michele Lemon and Van Duyn functional instructional assistant Janet Giovaninni, high school special education instructional assistant Amber Bose and middle school custodian Mary Blue.

Hirings approved included Trinity Helton as Central functional special education teacher, Jennie Lynch as Central homebound teacher up to 5 hours per week and Brandon Glass as transportation department bus driver.

The board accepted the resignation of high school head boys’ soccer coach Juan Montanez.

Extracurricular positions approved included Lynn Branz as high school volunteer assistant baseball coach, Lee James as high school assistant track coach, and Debbie Kuykendall as high school girls’ tennis coach.

The board also voted to revise the 2022-2023 academic calendar by removing all scheduled e-learning days, due to a recent bill passed by the state legislature limiting any school corporation to three e-learning days during a school year. Those three days will be saved for use as snow days if needed, and any additional snow days will have to be made up unless waivers for them are approved by the state. Chapman said that the scheduled days had been intended for professional development and parent teacher conferences, and other approaches will be found to accommodating those needs.

The board approved request for Curriculum Director Melanie Beaver and Technology Director Jenny Fossi to attend the 2022 SchoolCEO Conference: Culture Brand and Influence on May 3-4 in Memphis.

The board voted to accept donations as follows:

• Central Elementary — $236.61 and non-monetary donations

• Ernie Pyle Elementary — $100

• Van Duyn Elementary – $250

• South Vermillion Middle School — $260

The board also voted to give permission for members of the middle school robotics team to travel to Dallas from May 8-10 for the Vex Robotics World Championship event and to pay the $1,200 registration fee from STEM grant funds and pay travel and hotel expenses for Coach Maria Sellers. The board also gave permission for the students to fundraise for their travel and accommodations.

Chapman said the team did very well at the recent state competition and called their invitation to the World Championship “an opportunity beyond belief for these young students.”