Education (71)

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Newcastle Middle School wrapped up the 2013 to 2014 school year by welcoming a new principal.

John Harris took over as interim principal Monday, May 8, after former principal Jim Rector resigned earlier than was originally expected.

“I’m very grateful to Superintendent O’Brien and the school board to give me this opportunity,” Harris said.

Harris began teaching in 1999 at Midwest City High School (MWCHS) where he also coached football, basketball and tennis.

In 2003, Harris became the assistant principal at Carl Albert Junior High School, in Midwest City.

After three years at Carl Albert, Harris brought his assistant principal skills back to MWCHS, where he worked until “about a week ago,” when he became the new head principal at Newcastle Middle School, he said.

Harris’s main goals as principal are to be an instructional leader and work on teacher development.

“I would describe my leadership style as empathy-based,” Harris said. “I do a lot of listening and a lot of watching.”

Harris lives in Midwest City but said the Newcastle community has been very welcoming to him and he intends to transfer his son to Newcastle Middle School in the fall.           

Harris comes from a family of educators in which his parents, brother, sister-in-law, and wife all were or are currently teachers.

“It’s kind of the family business,” Harris joked.

Though he came from a teaching background, Harris first goal out of college was not teaching. He had seen the financial struggles his parents sometimes faced and pursued a sales career with various companies.

“I was that guy that thought I would make all kinds of money and be able to send mom and dad on a cruise,” he said. “But I was never really content with my choice of profession until I got into education.”


Friday, 30 May 2014 16:00

Bridge Creek Seniors graduate, celebrate

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The Bridge Creek class of 2014 looked toward its future while celebrating its past Friday as the seniors walked across the stage at Crossroads Church to receive their diplomas.

The 87 members of the Bobcats’ graduating class filled the seats in front of the stage as hundreds of friends and family gathered behind them in support.

Student Body President Peyton Hayes opened the ceremony by asking those in attendance to rise while the Senior Band, along with the Bridge Creek High School Choir, sang the national anthem.

Senior Class President Priscilla Texter then welcomed both graduates and observers to the event that marked the culmination of all the seniors’ years of hard work.

Salutatorians Elizabeth Julch and Alicia Sandlin took turns addressing the graduates and their supporters.

“You are all here because you have a special purpose,” Julch said.

Julch went on to encourage her class to seek and find their individual purposes, as she would also do.

Sandlin spoke from personal experience, about being “the new girl who didn’t feel like she fit in” at Bridge Creek until a fellow classmate welcome her and changed her outlook on life, she said.

She also thanked the teachers and families for their support of the graduating Bobcats, noting that none of them would have made it without the personal sacrifices of those who helped them through the years.

Valedictorian Ellen Ryan also thanked those who supported the class before Madison Flores, singing, and Madeline Wichryk, on guitar, serenaded the crowd with a song.

Bobcats Principal Bruce Wedel then announced to the crowd that the class of 2014 planned something “very special” for their parents and guardians.

The entire class then rose from their seats and presented flower bouquets to their family members in the crowd.

After a slideshow presentation of a collection of pictures from years past, Wedel then recognized the “original seniors,” those who attended all four years of high school at Bridge Creek, by asking them to stand while the crowd applauded.

The McClain County Board of Education Members then presented each graduating Bobcat with a diploma.

Senior Class Vice-President Mikayla Cooper wrapped up the evening with a few closing comments before Wedel presented the finally graduated class of 2014 to a cheering audience.


Sunday, 18 May 2014 13:54

This week's education page

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Newcastle Elementary School teacher V. A. Ospovat is retiring today, after 33 years of teaching .

She is known as an “amazing math teacher” by her students at the school.

Ospavat will lead her annual “5th Grade Kite Day” at Veteran’s Park for the last time today, from 1:15-3 p.m.

The public is invited to attend the retirement ceremony in the library of the 4th and 5th grade building at Newcastle Elementary School, at 3:30 p.m.


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Paula Hess, a teacher of 26 years in the Newcastle School system, will retire this year. Thursday, May 1 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., the Newcastle community – parents, students past and present, co-workers, and friends - are invited to stop by the middle school library and share your best wishes and fondest memories with her.   

During her career, Ms. Hess epitomizes what it is to be a Racer. All three of her children graduated from Newcastle High School where she completely involved herself in their activities. But it didn’t stop there for her….she continued to be a mainstay at sporting events and activities even after her children graduated.  Ms. Hess has shown support for all her students over the years and has been a major force in the success of the middle school.  

The Newcastle School System welcomes the public to celebrate the sacrificial life and career of Paula Hess.   

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 21:40

Blanchard announces HS grad plans

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Blanchard High School will celebrate the graduation of its senior class in a ceremony held at the school.

The graduation is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 19 in the Blanchard High School gym.

Only friends and family who receive graduation announcements from the nearly 130 seniors will be allowed to attend, according to Blanchard High School officials. Seating is very limited.

School officials recommend that guests come early, as guests began arriving up to three hours early for last year’s graduation.

Parking at the school is first come, first serve and open to all lots. 

For more information, call the high school at (405) 485-3392.

Friday, 11 April 2014 20:42

Republican joins race to try and oust Barresi

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Another Republican has filed to challenge Republican State Education Superintendent Janet Barresi.

Brian S. Kelly, a career educator from Edmond, filed candidacy papers Friday to challenge Barresi. Kelly also ran in 2010 and said he received around 80,000 votes.

Edmond Democrat Dr. Freda Deskin filed for candidacy Thursday. Deskin has 43 years of experience in education as a teacher and education instructor.

Longtime education official Jack Herron of Norman and Peggs Superintendent John Cox of Hulbert both filed candidacy papers on Wednesday. Both Herron and Cox are Democrats.

Herron is a former superintendent and Cox has spent nearly 30 years as an educator and superintendent.

Barresi filed Wednesday for a second four-year term. She is challenged by Joy Hofmeister, a former state Education Board member.



Wednesday, 09 April 2014 22:01

Racers earn FFA awards

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Three Newcastle students have reached the pinnacle of FFA at the state level.

Madison Fryar, Elizabeth Guthrie and Brittnie Tanner have earned their State FFA degrees, and will receive their awards April 30 during the State FFA Convention in Oklahoma City. 

The degree is bestowed on high school seniors who have demonstrated outstanding supervised agricultural experience program and leadership skills, state FFA representative Hannah Nemecek said in a statement.

To be eligible for a state degree, FFA students must have received the Chapter degree in their junior year, have been a member of FFA for two years, and have completed two years of classroom instruction.

Requirements also include having served as an FFA officer, participated in at least 10 parliamentary procedures, have earned and productively invested at least $1,000 in agricultural programs, and completed at least 25 hours of community service, among other requirements. 

Out of 24,000 FFA members statewide, only 724 have ever earned the state degree.

Jacob McKinney and Megan Ragsdale of Tuttle also received their state degrees. 

Wednesday, 09 April 2014 21:53

Bridge Creek Pre-K moves to full day

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As of the 2013-2014 school year, the Bridge Creek School District was one of the last districts in the state to offer Pre-Kindergarten as a half-day program.

Starting next year, Bridge Creek will not be on that list anymore.

Bridge Creek Pre-K will transition to a full-day program, running from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. beginning in Fall 2014. 

“We decided that we were losing enrollment to the surrounding schools,” Bridge Creek Pre-K teacher Rori Hodges said. “Students typically need a full-day program because parents are working parents, they need a full-day program. Because of that, they’d go to enroll their students at schools like Newcastle, Blanchard and Tuttle, and then the students would stay there.”

Pre-K programs teach young children about how to function as students in a classroom setting, Hodges said. Students are also taught basic subjects such as colors. 

Ongoing changes to academic standards under Core Curriculum is another reason for the change. While the Core Curriculum rules for Pre-K are still being written, any changes in the standards would be difficult to handle with students in class for only half a day.

The district will hire three additional teachers, allowing Bridge Creek to handle up to 100 Pre-K students. In years past, enrollment was limited to about 60 students, Hodges said. 

There will be no waiting lists for kids who live in the Bridge Creek school district, with district officials planning to hire additional teachers to meet demand as needed, Hodges said.

“Pre-K pretty much pays for itself, we get money from the state for every child in the program,” she said.

Transfer students will still be placed on a waiting list. While Pre-K is an optional program, the program comes at no cost to the parents besides an optional $30 fee for the teacher to purchase the student’s school supplies and an optional daily cafeteria lunch, the price of which will be announced before the start of the school year. 

Open enrollment will be held April 17 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Bridge Creek Elementary School. Parents are required to bring an original state-issued birth certificate, current shot record, two proofs of residency, and a photo ID for a parent or guardian, including any necessary court documents needed to show custody or guardianship.

Acceptable proof of residency includes a utility bill, mortgage statement, lease agreement, or proof of property insurance.

Beginning with the next school year, parents will also need to bring their child to enrollment, Hodges said. Children will be screened for motor and social skills, general knowledge, and how they react when away from parents.

The screening is expected to only take a few minutes, and will help teachers develop lesson plans for the forthcoming year, Hodges said.

For more information or to place a student on the transfer waiting list, call Bridge Creek Elementary at (405) 387-3681.


Wednesday, 09 April 2014 18:32

Candidates file to oust Oklahoma superintendent

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — At least two Democrats are seeking to oust Republican State Superintendent Janet Barresi, who also is expected to face a primary challenge to her re-election bid.

Longtime education official Jack Herron of Norman and Peggs Superintendent John Cox of Hulbert both filed candidacy papers on Wednesday, the first of a three-day filing period for state offices. Both Herron and Cox are Democrats.

Barresi also filed candidacy papers on Wednesday for a second four-year term in office. At least one other Republican plans to challenge her.

The 68-year-old Herron is a former superintendent who recently worked as assistant state superintendent for financial services at the state Department of Education until Barresi took over in 2011.

Cox, 50, has spent nearly 30 years as an educator, including 20 as a superintendent.


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