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By Dan Rudy 

School board clarifies extracurricular travel policy


Dan Rudy/ Wrangell Sentinel

Wrangell Public School District Superintendent Patrick Meyer announces on Monday evening at the Stikine Middle School's reception of a five-star ASPI rating for the 2013-2014 year. The annual School Report Card rates schools on several different performance categories. It is the second year in a row the school has received this top rating.

A full School Board sat down to its monthly agenda Monday night, reviewing and revising a number of policies.

Of particular concern to local resident Jacquie DeMontigny was policy number 6145, dealing with extracurricular and cocurricular activities. In particular, the board was looking to correct a contradiction in the language, which specified restricting students with both a D or F or just F grade from traveling for extracurricular activities.

In the new form, the schools would follow a straight C- and above policy for extracurricular participation, with course grades reviewed every Monday. DeMontigny felt the policy should be made to instead limit students with F's only from traveling.

"It discourages students from taking more difficult courses," DeMontigny said during the discussion. She also felt the policy gave school administrators too much flexibility to allow exemptions.

"We're not really changing the requirement," Board President Susan Eagle explained. Current policy for the high school is to restrict students with D and F grades from attending matches, and the middle school essentially does as it does not use D grades.

"It is in the high school handbook right now," said Colter Barnes, principal for the high and middle schools.

Board members Rinda Howell and Tammy Groshong questioned whether the restriction might unfairly limit participation for some students, but after some discussion the board agreed that academics should come first.

"I think it's representative of our standards," said Superintendent Patrick Meyer. "They call them 'student athletes' because they're students first, athletes second."

As to allowing the superintendent or principal to allow exemptions to the policy, it was explained that a number of reasons exist for giving them that latitude, including considerations for illness or special needs.

The board voted unanimously to accept the first reading of the revised policy.

They also approved on second reading the policy dealing with student nutrition and physical activity, changing the wording slightly to come into compliance with federal standards. The change would more clearly allow an exception to restrictions on snack items at schools for tournaments and special events.

The board also approved eight other policies and six grants, the details for which can be found at its site at http://www.boarddocs.com/ak/wrangell/Board.nsf/Public.

The meeting was opened with a high school Student Council report by junior Tabatha Hommel, and a presentation by a pair of Drew Larrabee's shop students. Looking forward, they explained to the board their ideas for Wolf Fabrication, a project which would teach vocational students in Wrangell about the business end of crafting while letting them take on real-world projects for local contractors.

The classes have been making good use of new equipment such as the CNC router and laser engraver, but already have begun some construction work on an office space for Superior Marine Services.

"It's a pretty substantial project," said Larrabee. The project should last into next semester, and encompass most of the stages of framing and drywalling.

It's not just new technology that is on his agenda. Larrabee laid out a five year plan for replacing aging equipment and improving the shop's work area. The shop planer and air compressor both need replacement, the sinks can use an update and the rooms repainting.

The school's Tech Club is also looking at constructing a robotic hall monitor using a small computer and various parts and sensors.


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