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School District 230 summit to hit ‘outside-the-classroom’ issues

 

by Bob Rakow

staff reporter

The social and emotional needs of students in Consolidated School District 230 will be the subject of the district’s next Successful Schools, Success Students Summit.

School board members at last Thursday’s board meeting began to brainstorm ideas for summit, which will be held in the coming school year.

The summit will be the fourth sponsored by the district, which serves Stagg, Sandburg and Andrew High Schools. Previous conferences were held in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

The most recent summit also focused on students’ social and emotional needs.

At that summit, breakout sessions were then held with area law enforcement, safety, mental health and community agency leaders to seek input on ways to improve and partner.

Group discussion identified strengths of the systems in place, including a focus on helping students develop positive decision-making skills and make them aware of community resources that are available in times of need.

Supt. James Gay said it was important that the summit not focus solely on high school students.

“It doesn’t start in 9th grade,” Gay said, adding that the summit should address the needs of middle school students who attend District 230’s feeder districts.

Board members and administrators have their work cut out for them while planning the summit, Gay said, as they work to identify students’ specific social and emotional needs.

Approximately 96 percent of students in School District 230 go on to college, and indication they well prepared academically, Gay said.

But students face other issues outside the classroom, he said.

Mental health, drugs and alcohol, social media, peer pressure and the obstacles students face choosing an appropriate college are some of the issues board members suggested at the meeting.

“Hit on drugs,” said board member Melissa Gracias, who added that the pitfalls of social media also should be addressed.

Board member Kathy Quilty said preparing students for college life is another topic the summit should address.

The adjustment was a difficult one for her son, she said.

“I think being away was a culture shock for him,” Quilty said.

Board members agreed that the summit must appeal to broad audience not limited to students, parents, staff and administrators at the district’s three schools.

Rather, other district stakeholders such as the feeder school, religious, law enforcement and business communities and elected officials also should attend, board members agreed.

Gay recommended involving former students in the summit, as teens are more likely to listen to their peers.

District officials also agreed that keynote speakers should be booked soon because their schedules tend to fill up quickly.

“We should start getting the word out,” Gay said.

 

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