School News

News for Marion High School

Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News Marion Community Schools continues its rise into the ranks of the state’s best schools, and is thrilled to be celebrating an “A” rating from the IDOE at Marion High School, and at Riverview Elementary School.

The overall corporation-wide grade for Marion Community Schools rose to a “B” for the 2013-14 school year, and for the first time since school accountability grades have been given by the state Department of Education, MCS has no schools at the academic probation or letter grade “F”.

Justice Intermediate School also received a “B” rating, just shy of an "A", according to IDOE information.

“Our district grade of ‘B’ — our highest ever — demonstrates that our team is working together to draw out the best from our students and each other,” MCS Superintendent Brad Lindsay said. “At our elementary schools, we are putting best practices in place and preparing our young students for success at the intermediate level. At Justice Intermediate, we are preparing students well for success in junior high. At McCulloch Junior High, we are preparing students well for success at Marion High School. At MHS and Tucker Career and Technology Center, we are preparing our students to graduate college-, career-, and life-ready. Our entire MCS team understands that we must treat our students well before teaching them well, and this district grade of ‘B’ demonstrates that we are succeeding at both.”

The “A” rating at Marion High School is evidence of the culminating success of that team effort.

“The high school transformation story that is being written is inspirational,” Lindsay said, noting that he is thankful for the opportunities his own daughters have as students at MHS. “It takes a team, and that is exactly what is happening: our students, faculty, staff, administrators, board, and community are pulling together to provide our students our very best. This is a positive success story for not only Marion High School, but for the greater community of Marion as well.”

This latest marker of success at Marion High School comes on the heels of national recognition that put it in the top 27 percent of high schools in the country: a bronze medal award in the U.S. News and World Report’s list of the nation’s best high schools.

The accolades come after years of teamwork between administrators, teachers, staff, and various community groups and organizations. The “A” reflects tough decisions made and decisive action taken over the past few years, but the bottom line, according to MHS Principal Lennon Brown, comes down to personal actions and attitudes.

“When the rubber hits the road, this represents the hard work and dedication of an incredible staff and student body,” he said. “We couldn’t claim any of these accomplishments without them.”

Riverview Elementary School earned its second straight “A” (and its third “A” in four years), and Principal Michele Kelsay said that’s the result of a lot of hard work by teachers, students, and parents.

“Teachers work tirelessly to find out exactly what each student needs. They take the time to identify the skill deficits and fill in those gaps,” she said, noting that the staff regularly reviews student data and uses it to tailor instruction and interventions to their needs.

The back-to-back “A” ratings reaffirm the success of the systems in place, Kelsay said.

“We have set processes that we go through to ensure we stay on the right course,” she said, including weekly collaboration and professional development meetings with teachers, specific reading and math strategies in place school-wide, and the Response to Instruction process that brings a team together to address individual students’ needs.

One key to success, according to Kelsay: “We have high expectations for all students and adults.”

She said they continue to meet challenges head-on, implementing what’s working for students, and improving what’s not.

“I am so proud of all of our Riverview team — teachers, staff, students, and families. We will work hard to continue the tradition of excellence at Riverview Elementary!”

Lindsay echoed those sentiments.

“Riverview is a great example of good-better-best, and never letting it rest,” Lindsay said. “Accomplishing a letter grade of ‘A’ is awesome, but back-to-back ‘A’s mean that as good as you already were, you have continued to get even better! This is a testimony that Team Riverview has institutionalized practices that work. They’ve developed a winning culture, with a winning attitude and winning teamwork. They are focused on continuous improvement and best possible, and they are intentional with individual student and cohort growth. They are true leaders in learning.”

The advancement at Justice Intermediate School, from an “F” in 2011-12, to a “D” in 2012-13, to a “B” in 2013-14, is reflective of the change in culture inside that school.

“I am so proud of this staff,” said Justice Principal Melissa Richards, who is in her third year leading the school. “It was tough in the beginning. There was a culture of failure. We started focusing on the positive — what the teachers were doing right, what the students were doing right — and it became a culture of success and high expectations.”

Now, she said, the IDOE rating reflects what they all knew all along.

“I told them early on: ‘This is not an ‘F’ school,’” she said. “‘You are not ‘F’ teachers. These are not F students!’”

McCulloch Junior High School’s “C” for 2013-14 brings it off of academic probation/watch, and MCS believes a partnership with Indiana Wesleyan University and STI, funded by a multi-year school improvement grant awarded by the IDOE, has the potential to make the school a model for turnaround efforts.

“We’re very proud that McCulloch Junior High School is no longer a ‘D’ and is now a ‘C’. Team McCulloch has worked very hard. Our McCulloch team cares and invests into our students, and we are very proud of the improvement our team is making,” Lindsay said.

Change is also being propelled by a separate multi-year school improvement grant awarded by the IDOE at Allen Elementary School, which raised to a “D” in the 2013-14 school year, up from an “F” the year before. District and school administrators and staff are dedicated to continued improvements there, and a palpable shift in the culture within the building is already clear. With the support of families and community, this year can be Allen’s breakthrough year.

“Allen Elementary is on the rise,” Lindsay said. “There is a foundational culture for learning in place, and with our dedicated, talented and determined staff, we expect there are giant things to come this year and beyond.” 

Kendall Elementary School’s 2013-14 grade was “C”. Frances Slocum Elementary School’s was a “D”.

Both schools’ ratings are down from the previous year, and Lindsay emphasized the importance of that longer view.

“Kendall Elementary is consistently a high-performing school, with three ‘A’s in the past five years,” he said. “It is a safe, healthy, and exciting school for our students to learn and enjoy. And at Frances Slocum Elementary, the culture of caring, the culture of community, the culture of meaningful partnerships is in place. Our Slocum team teaches to the whole child and is ready to make the climb toward being a consistently high-performing school.”

Brenda McVicker, MCS director of elementary education, noted that the data behind the rating is revealing, as well.

“We can see cohort growth in nearly every area,” said Brenda McVicker, MCS director of elementary education. “That’s across the district, in every building. The state’s formula for calculating school ratings sometimes does not reflect that growth as clearly as the data on individual students does.”

The state’s current A-F rating system is based in part on penalties or awards based on how much students progress as compared with similar peer groups. But state lawmakers have mandated a calculation of individual student growth, not a comparison. State leaders are in the process of determining the details of how such a system would work.

“We’ll continue to strive to meet state goals, but meeting individual student needs is part of our regular, day-in, day-out process,” McVicker said.

There is much for the schools and community to take pride in, Lindsay said.

“I believe in and am proud of our faculty, staff, and administrators across our district. In every building, our people are working purposefully to provide our students their very best,” he said. “I’m thankful for the parents who have chosen Marion Community Schools to educate their precious children. We count that as a high privilege, and we understand that parental and community support is essential to our students’ success.”

The success of Marion Community Schools is intertwined with the community’s support and success..

“We are thankful for the community of Marion, which has rallied around our schools,” Lindsay said, “making education and our students a priority, and helping us to serve a cause that is greater than our individual selves, which is our children, our community, and our future.”
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News The Marion High School JROTC cadets (Army) sunk the Navy JROTC cadets from Anderson High School in the first Army-Navy Rifle Marksmanship shoot off.

Marion High School JROTC cadets earned victory in the first annual Army vs. Navy JROTC Shoot-off, which pitted the MHS Army JROTC cadets against Anderson High School's Navy JROTC cadets from Anderson High School. Rifle team members are Daniel Sparks, Ruben Murillo, Abbrielle Sells, Lee Hatten and Kayleigh Smith. (Marion Community Schools)

The event Wednesday night featured the five best rifle marksmen from each school meeting in their first ever shoulder-to-shoulder match. At the end of the evening, the Marion’s Army cadets were victorious.
“It was a great opportunity and a great feeling to shoot against another JROTC program,” said Daniel Sparks, who was the top shooter overall and earned first place in the prone and kneeling positions. “I look forward to competing against them again in a few weeks when we travel to Anderson for their invitational shoot off.”

Cadet Abbrielle Sells, the MHS Rifle Team captain, earned a first place finish in the standing position. 

The rifle competition uses the standardized rules established by the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The cadets fire precision air rifles from three different positions: standing, kneeling and prone (lying flat on the ground) at targets 33 feet (10 meters) away. The bulls-eye targets are approximately the size of a quarter coin. A mere difference of 1/8 of an inch can separate the winner from the loser. The highest possible score is 300.

Ruben Murillo aims for success while Lee Hatten reloads as the Marion High School JROTC Cadets earn their first victory over the Navy cadets from Anderson High School in a the first annual Army vs. Navy shoot-off. (Marion Community Schools)

“It was fun to play up the Army vs. Navy competition between our schools,” said Lt. Col. (Retired) David Farlow, MHS Senior Army instructor. “It was all in good fun, but of course it is always good when Army beats Navy.”

The remaining members of the Giant’s Rifle Team competing Wednesday were Lee Hatten, Ruben Murillo, and Kayleigh Smith.

The JROTC Rifle Marksmanship Team will travel Tuesday, Nov. 18, to shoot against the cadets from Blackford High School. 
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News The Marion Giants Spell Bowl team won an area competition this week, earning them a trip to state finals for the second year in a row.

The team of 10 dominated at the area competition at Western High School on Monday, winning their division at the site by a large margin, with a score of 55 out of 90. That score also put them at first place overall at the Western H.S. competition, and earned them the sixth and final spot at state finals, where the top six Division 2 teams from across the state will compete.

The competition is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, on the campus of Purdue University.

Team members are seniors Patricia Manio, Allysa Ngo, Lan Nguyen, Noah Todd; juniors Elijah Beal, Micah Hoeksema, and Zach Spitzer; and sophomores Megan Griffin, Danielle Manio, and Nick Spitzer.

We wish continued good luck to these Giants as they compete at the state level!
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News The Army will face the Navy on Wednesday, Nov. 5, when the Marion High School JROTC cadets (Army) host the Anderson High School cadets (Navy) in a precision rifle marksmanship competition.

This first-annual event will feature the five best marksmen from each school meeting in their first-ever shoulder-to-shoulder match.

“It is great that we will have the opportunity to compete against another school,” team captain Abbrielle Sells said. “We shot against and beat Blackford High School last year, and I hope we can add Anderson High School to our growing list of schools we can beat.”

The rifle competition uses the standardized rules established by the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The cadets fire precision air rifles from three different positions — standing, kneeling and prone (lying flat on the ground) — at targets 33 feet (10 meters) away. The bulls-eye targets are approximately the size of a quarter coin. A mere difference of 1/8 an inch can separate the winner from the loser. The highest possible score is 300.

“It will be fun to play up the Army vs. Navy competition between our schools,” said Lt. Col. (Retired) David Farlow, MNS Senior Army Instructor. “With our close proximity, it just makes sense that we foster cooperation and competition between the two schools.”

The event will be held in the JROTC department at Marion High School starting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5.  It is open to the public.
Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
News Blog Category - News The Giants will advance to the second round of the Brain Game tournament after convincing wins in their first two matches.

Marion High School competed against two other schools during the Oct. 29 taping of the Brain Game at the WTHR studios in Indianapolis. The students competing were seniors Alyssa Ngo, Noah Todd, and Lane Vermilion, and sophomore Truman Bennet. Sophomore Micha Hoeksema was an alternate. In their first match, the Giants defeated Broad Ripple High School 22-5. In their second match, played later the same day, the Giants defeated Columbus North High School 30-8.

The matches are set to air on WTHR at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8.

The show's format consists of approximately 120 questions from many topics; each right answer is worth one point. Each match pits two teams from area high schools against each other, vying for the right to continue on in the single-elimination tournament. The tournament season consists of five rounds; 48 teams will compete in 47 matches, which will be shown in 31 episodes over the coming weeks. 

>> Think you're up to the challenge? Take the Brain Game online quiz!

This set of wins puts the Giants among only 16 teams to advance to the second round of competition. MHS will compete again on January 28. They will face the team from the International School of Indiana, who beat out Warren Central and Bishop Chatard to advance to the second round.

Eight teams will advance to the quarterfinals round, four to the semifinals, and then two compete in the final game. The top eight teams in the tournament earn cash prizes for their schools from the competition's sponsor, Westfield Insurance.