KidsVote, Bucks Arts Expo, drug abuse education and Veterans Day highlight the week

KidsVote, Bucks Arts Expo, drug abuse education and Veterans Day highlight the week
Posted on 11/11/2018

Good afternoon! Happy Sunday! It is wonderful to have blue sky above us.

Lots going on throughout the District since we last chatted besides the usual hard work that goes on every day by our students, teachers and staff. For Red Ribbon Week SRO Brain Hendrzak taught numerous drug abuse classes at Strayer MS, the week before, HS school students worked days to prepare the decorations for the Homecoming Dance at which a record setting 900 students attended, The Neidig Renovation Planning Group conducted its 20th planning meeting, Trumbauersville ES hosted elementary principals from across Philadelphia School District for a day to watch and learn from our awesome teachers, then Friday night, in the rain and drizzle, our Panther Football team made us proud in the second round of the playoffs, and finally last night the Quakertown Marching Band placed 4th in national competition at MetLife Field. It is life in the fast lane, and its been fun and worthwhile!

Prior to the 2018 Election Day on Tuesday, our students took to the polls at their schools between October 29th and November 5th. As a school community, before every election, students from grades 3 through 12 are offered the opportunity to participate in KidsVote. For 2018, the participation rate was 58 percent of "eligible voters," or 2439 ballots cast. Naturally, we had a fun referendum question that got voted down. We asked, would you prefer a four-day school week versus the current five-day school/work week. Remaining on a five-day week squeaked by - 52.3 to 47.7 percent. The individual school and districtwide results may be found here.

The first Bucks County Student Arts Expo was held Wednesday evening at Bensalem High School. Visual and performing arts programs were on display from the 13 districts across Bucks County. I was thrilled and proud to witness that Quakertown was well represented that evening! The Strayer Players performed two songs from their upcoming musical Mary Poppins, under the direction of teacher Marcia Vanderslice and parent Karen Quinn, and then Strayer's Messa di Voce performed two of their songs for this year's program, under the direction of teacher Cynthia Teprovich. QCHS teacher Laurie Stoudt provided numerous pieces of artwork for display in the Bensalem HS lobby. It was a wonderful evening of celebration for arts programming across Bucks County schools. I heard many compliments on our student performances from my superintendent colleagues.

School safety is front and center on everyone's mind! Early last week, I shared with you that David Fialko from the Council of Southeast Pennsylvania would be making a presentation on recent trends in drug abuse in the Quakertown Performing Arts Center Wednesday night. His presentation was preceded by QCSD Pupil Services staff member Carrie Staffieri on Quakertown's PA Youth Survey results for 2017. Quakertown's PAYS Report is at the link. Thanks to our Lincoln Kaar's students in QCHS TV Production Studio for filming both presentations for you.

With today being Veterans Day, a hearty thank you to those who wear a uniform in defense of our country. Last Friday, several of our sixth graders traveled to Palisades Middle School for a Veterans Day event that rotates each year among the Upper Bucks districts. They were very fortunate to hear from Navy Rear Admiral Linda Wackerman, who was the guest speaker. Three of her children are Quakertown graduates, and one more is on his way. Here's the story on our website that highlights her words to students.

As I have mentioned before, we take very seriously the safety of our students and employees of Quakertown Community School District. Providing a safe and healthy environment for every student is a clear expectation of yours for us - as it should be! One of the most common and unfortunate disruptions to the social, emotional and behavioral context in our schools is bullying. Bullying comes in many forms, and it often comes from the lack of understanding, respect, and tolerance for individual differences. One of those differences are students that identify as LGBT.

Recently, in Quakertown social media a few of our parents have commented on a perceived change of QCSD policy or practice regarding LGBT, specifically regarding transgender students. That is not the case. Quakertown's practice has not changed. In fact, school-based faculty and staff have worked closely with parents and transgender students for decades, ensuring their safety, respecting their rights, and providing social-emotional support. With the prevalence of LGBT becoming more common across the world, QCSD brought in a consultant that conducted a professional development session for our principals, guidance counselors, and school psychologists. It was invaluable and timely! In June 2018, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision to uphold the Boyertown Area School District policy that allows transgender students to use the school bathroom of the sex that the student identifies with. The Court's decision is explicit in its justification, it is the law that QCSD must follow, and it's been our practice for a very long time.

Finally, the Diversity Committee meets again tomorrow evening at 6:30 PM, in the District Support Center. Lots more to share on this, and the MLK National Day of Service in January a little bit later!

Thank you for reading and I look forward to your feedback!

Bill Harner

Superintendent, QCSD

WHarner@qcsd.org

Twitter: @BillHarner

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