Graduation ceremony by invitation only
Cornell School Board
Graduation will take place for Cornell High School seniors, with a more condensed and social distanced version set for Friday, June 5, on the football field. Superintendent Paul Schley explained what will take place, during a Cornell School Board meeting May 25.
“What we’re doing is a big deal,” said Schley. “Nobody else is doing that right now.”
See GRADUATION CEREMONY/ Page 4 Although their guidelines say otherwise, Schley was able to get permission from the health department to hold an in-person ceremony on the football field. At first, only one parent per student was going to be allowed to attend the ceremony, but Schley lobbied for all the people in the student’s household to attend.
“And I was able to get that through,” he said.
The ceremony will be by invitation only, with people asked to maintain social distancing because of COVID-19, while masks are recommend.
“I know it’s not what our seniors expected,” said Schley. “But, it’s better than nothing.”
Also during the meeting, a public hearing for a Department of Instruction (DPI) waiver, pursuant to Wis. Stat. 118.38, was held, dealing with instructional hours.
“We don’t need total hours for all students,” said Schley. Some students, such as shop class students, can’t meet all their criteria, so the waiver gives Cornell a right not to have the full school year.
“How many of the schools are doing this?” asked clerk Eileen Sikora.
Schley said many districts applied for the waiver early, but said Cornell decided to wait. Members approved applying for the waiver.
“Everyone pretty much needs to do this, to make sure you’re covered,” said Schley.
The board also approved the resignation of Dave Elliott as the girls high school basketball coach, and agreed on the hire of Courtney Yanko in that position.
In discussing how online learning is going, acting interim elementary principal Kari Koenig said they have seen about 80 percent Zoom participation, which is counted by logging onto Zoom sessions and watching Zoom recordings. Koenig says all the teachers have been able to stick to their math and reading curriculum, and are now teaching new things to prepare kids for the next grade.
“We’re really proud of the elementary and the staff, and the students and their families, as well,” she said. “This is not an ideal situation and the teachers have really pushed the students.”
However, some students and their families chose to go the packet route for learning during the school’s shutdown, which are then turned in and counted that way, because of unreliable internet. Still another 10 percent have not responded to either Zoom or packet learning.
“Other families have just been completely off the grid,” said Koenig. “Teachers have reached out in every way possible. At some point, you have to say, you can’t do anything, if they don’t want to attend.”
“So, what happens to those kids?” asked Sikora. “Are they going to advance to the next grade this fall?”
Schley said the school might have to look at students in the fall if work is not turned in and that they may have to repeat that grade.
“They still have a week to get everything done,” said Schley.
Assistant principal Craig Braaten said without a person (teacher) prodding them, sometimes the kids lose focus. Treasurer Stephanie Seidlitz says as a hardworking parent, she sometimes struggles to make sure her kids are getting their assignments done, but that the teachers and staff have been amazing.
“These teachers, I think, are going above and beyond,” said Seidlitz.
“I just don’t want anybody to come up short,” said Sikora, adding she wonders if the board/school let the kids down.
Greg Baker, board member, says he doesn’t think the school let down the kids. Koenig said a second batch of packets had been sent out and that she hopes the parents will return the work, completed and on time.
“You know the comment, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” said president Lyle Briggs.
Jamie Close, vice president, asked if Schley had received any guidance from the DPI on re-opening this fall, but Schley said everything is up on the air. Surveys will be sent out to parents and students, asking for input on how the online schooling went the last couple months, as the school needs to come up with a viable way to teach, in the event the school can’t reopen or closes again.
“More than likely, if we get a COVID case in the school, we’re going to have to close up school for at least 14 days,” said Braaten, who mentioned that the closing would have no warning, that it would be immediate. “We’re going have to be ready to keep going. Our children have to learn.”