WHS principal

Wamego High’s new principal, Kale Katt, shown here with his wife, Megan, was introduced at Monday’s USD 320 board meeting.

USD 320 District Superintendent Tim Winter on Monday introduced Kale Katt as the new Wamego High School principal.

Katt spent the past five years as an assistant principal at Junction City High School, where he led the Business, Information and Technology Academy. He has also taught English at the high school level, and previously taught composition at Cloud County.

He is joined by his wife, Megan, who is employed by K-State. They have two daughters ages 4 and 1.

“We are very excited to have them in our community and in our school district,” Winter said. “Kale is going to bring some great instructional and leadership strengths to our district.”

Winter also announced the retirement of two longtime teachers/coaches. Jerry Johnson will be retiring as the baseball coach after 23 years in the district. Johnson, who will continue to teach at Wamego Middle School, is credited with starting the high school baseball team. Additionally, John Schmidt will retire at the end of the first semester after his many years of service to the district.

Election of officers

The board voted to continue to hold the election of board officers in July, rather than in January when new board members take office. The board then proceeded to elect Cory Meyer as Board President, and Ryan Hargitt as Vice President.

Grading policy/

eligibility

The board continued discussions regarding two key items in the high school handbook, before voting on a motion to approve the WHS Faculty/Student handbook, and the WHS/WMS Activities handbook.

According to WHS Assistant Principal Dennis Charbonneau, “there were two major things that were discussed at the building leadership meeting. One item was adding back the “D” into the grading scale… and the other was regarding eligibility of student athletes.”

The current WHS grading scale does not include the designation of a grade of “D”. Any score below 70% is considered failing. This item was discussed at length by the leadership team, but in the end, it decided to keep the policy as it is.

“After a great deal of discussion, the team decided that putting the “D” back on was not the direction that we wanted to go,” Charbonneau explained. “There was concern that we would be lowering standards, and that was not the direction we wanted the school to go.”

Charbonneau went on to explain that he and the team feel that a change in the daily schedule, which moves seminar from the end of the day to the middle of the day, is going to be a valuable tool in helping students achieve the 70% or higher mark. Seminar — a designated time for teachers to help students coordinate with other teachers to get help when needed — was previously held at the end of the day. This led to poor seminar attendance. Charbonneau and members of the leadership team all felt that moving the class to 10:20 a.m. would have a profound effect on student achievement.

Board member Michelle Johnson expressed that she was very disappointed that the “D” would not be added to the grading scale.

“I don’t see how having a ‘D’ as a passing grade hurts our school district,” Johnson said. “This puts at-risk children even further behind the 8-ball than they already are. If we are going to do this, I want to see the data. Where are these kids achieving now, and then a year from now I want to see how they have improved.”

The other board and leadership team members agreed that it was important to track the data. The members plan to have discussions soon to develop a strategy on what to track and how.

Regarding athletic eligibility, the leadership team proposed that an athlete who is earning one “F” will be placed on academic warning, and any athlete earning two “F’s” will be placed on automatic ineligibility for at least one week, until the grade is brought to passing.

“Ultimately the student is in charge of his own grade,” Charbonneau said. “But we felt this policy was right, because it doesn’t keep a kid from playing sports because of one class.”

Following the discussion, the board voted to pass a motion to accept the three handbooks in question, with the proposed policies in place.

Zero-hour weights

WHS coaches Weston Moody and Brian McIntosh attended the meeting to talk to the board about the zero-hour weightlifting program started at the high school last year.

Student athletes Tori Hubler, Kendra Hamman and Alex Stutzman were also on hand to talk about the program.

Hamman explained that the weights program not only has improved athletes physically, but has held them accountable, built trust amongst teammates, and shaped them into leaders.

Stutzman echoed these statements and added that it has taught him the value of hard work, which also translates into the classroom and other endeavors.

The coaches also presented statistics that demonstrated the effect that the program has had on the strength of its participants.

“We really preach consistency, getting kids to be there all the time,” McIntosh said.

“We talk about energy a lot, that’s something that Coach Moody and I are passionate about. And we talk about grit, and toughness, and some things you may not get in the classroom.”