H-PT student writing center update

HOUGHTON – Starting with this school year, Houghton High School students needing extra writing help have had a place to go.

English teachers Katie Bonacorsi and Ruth Ryynanen gave a presentation at Monday’s Houghton-Portage Township Schools board meeting about the student writing center, which launched this fall.

The center is open two days a week, throughout most of the school day, including before and after school. Most of the coaching is done by AP English students, who earn National Honor Society credit.

Such centers are common at post-secondary level institutions – including Michigan Technological University, Ryynanen took the student coaches to MTU’s Multiliteracies Center in the fall. But they’re rarer in high schools.

“I’ve definitely talked to a lot of the other English teachers through the Upper Peninsula Writing Project … and this is a very unique situation that we have here,” Ryynanen said.

Next year, Bonacorsi said, they hope to have expanded hours to increase usage.

“Lots of kids have taken advantage, but we’re hoping more students will,” she said.

The center received a $500 mini-grant from the Upper Peninsula Writing Project to buy reference materials, posters, pens, pencils, as well as incentives for the students to come and get help. Ryynanen said next year there could be weekly drawings for items such as jump drives and notebooks.

They also hope to create a formal manual for students, as well as a training session for students.

Ryynanen said the first year has been a success.

“The kids liked it because, even though, we tell them that, the still do feel intimidated a little bit until they get there for the first time,” she said. “Those freshmen that went there this year for the first time, they’re going to be like, ‘Oh yeah, that wasn’t so bad. And in fact, I got a better grade on my essay.'”

In other action, the board:

approved $1,500 to support students going to the Lake Superior Youth Symposium. The biennial three-day symposium will be held at Michigan Tech.

heard a report from High School Principal Julie Filpus. The robotics team initially missed the field of 64 for state, but will go as an alternate. In a recent Bridge Magazine article, Houghton ranked second in ACT college readiness and third in the state in lowest percentage of students in college remedial course and Michigan Merit Exam proficiency. The school play will be held April 26-28. To accommodate schedule conflicts, the prom was pushed back an hour and students in the play will be charged a reduced rate.

heard from Klingbeil the district is able to miss seven school days this year without having to make them up. While Monday was the eighth day, Klingbeil said they are able to apply to the state for a waiver for days lost to weather after April 1.

heard a report from Middle School Principal Jim Luoma. Students are participating in the Johnson Controls Igniting Creative Energy Challenge. Bike 2 School Week will take place from May 13-17. The school Builders’ Club is working on ways to unite against Bullying, including a Facebook page, YouTube videos and weekly announcements.

heard a report from Elementary School Principal Patrick Aldrich. Students read more than 500,000 minutes during Reading Month in March. Seventy-two kindergarten students have registered so far for next year. The Parent-Teacher Organization carnival will be held this Saturday.

approved a resolution to consider designating Nels Christopherson as electoral representative for the June biennial election for the Copper Country Intermediate School District, and Brad Baltensperger as alternate.

named Buck Foltz, Susan Binkley and Crystal Verran as district representatives at the Copper Country Association of School Boards dinner.

went into executive session to discuss negotiations and Klingbeil’s evaluation. No action was taken when the open meeting resumed