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School board approves new graduation requirements

Cary Ashby • Oct 11, 2019 at 8:45 PM

Norwalk High School is getting ahead of the game by introducing graduation requirements that will go into effect for the class of 2023, the current freshmen.

Counselor Sandi Stewart said the “permanent requirements” by the state include three categories — course completion, competency demonstration in English and math and readiness demonstration — plus earning diploma seals. Students must earn two diploma seals, one of which must be state-defined, to demonstrate technical and professional readiness for careers, college, the military or what’s known as “self-sustaining professions.”

“Of the 12 (available seals), three of them are locally defined,” Stewart said.

Those categories are: Student engagement, fine and performing arts and community service.

Student engagement covers the completion of three seasons of athletics or other performance-based activities, such as Academic Challenge, NERD Nation (the NHS robotics team), musicals, E-sports team and pep band. Stewart said advisers, at the end of the year, will have to turn in a list of students who completed the activity. Look for a feature story soon about the NHS E-sports team.

For the fine and performing arts seal, students must demonstrate skill according to an evaluation aligned with guidelines adopted by the Norwalk school board, Stewart said. They must complete two full credits in fine arts (band, choir, orchestra and visual arts courses) in grades nine through 12.

For the community service seal, students must document 120 hours and complete a reflection paper or presentation about their experiences. Stewart said the service being performed outside of school must be approved prior to completing the hours and the supervisors must sign and verify the time. NHS-sponsored community service activities include Blue Squad, Key Club, National Honor Society and outside of the class period, Teen Leadership Corps.

“It’s going to be dotting I’s and crossing T’s,” Stewart told the board. “That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Board president Lisa Wick said her biggest concern is OK’ing the graduation requirements and locals only to have the state change things later.

The board approved the policy, among several others, Tuesday after Stewart’s presentation. She said while these requirements and seals will start with the current freshman class, they are options for the current sophomores through seniors to meet graduation requirements.

Stewart recently attended a regional meeting of counselors in secondary education.

“We are the only district to have anything (like this) set in place,” she said.

In other action Tuesday, the board:

• Approved the purchase of a maintenance vehicle and disposal of an older truck, which will be traded in. District treasurer Joyce Dupont said the older vehicle is in bad shape and “probably needs to be scrapped.”

• Approved Family Medical Leave Act time for Cindy Collins, a custodian at Pleasant Elementary.

• Granted permission for NHS science teacher Nate Whaley to take four students to Washington. They will assist veterans during the three-day Huron County Honor Trip, which started Friday.

• Granted permission for the varsity volleyball team to practice Oct. 20 (a Sunday) to prepare to play in the district semi-final match the next day.

Norwalk Reflector Videos