Tuesday, December 11, 2018

What It Is Like To Be 'The New Kid'

By Lily Reynolds

Even in a small school, new students transfer in, and the students that have been here sometimes don't realize that the transition is difficult. Talking to the new students made me realize that it is hard to switch schools, but we students that have been here don’t see that they need help. It is like the saying “don't judge a book by its cover” because we don't know what it is like to be a new student.
“Coming from a big school to a small school is a hard adjustment,” said Hannah Abrams. Hannah is 17 and lived in Dubuque while trying three different schools in Iowa. “ I'm getting used to it but I didn't really like it at first because I didn't fit in.” Fitting in can be a big deal for a small school because the styles, language, and race are the same. Transitioning for Hannah was hard because she didn't want to come here, but didn't have an option. Her parents took her out of the Dubuque schools because they felt she was hanging out around the wrong crowd. “My parents knew I could be a better student than I was.”  Hannah enjoys that the teachers help her when she puts in extra time to ask for help, unlike her other school. “The one person that inspires me here at Potosi High school is Mrs. Meier because she motivates me to get my work done and to do better,” said Hannah. One thing she dislikes here is how late we get out of school. “ I am used to getting out of school at 2:50,” said Hannah.
Sylvia Burger is a freshman and has attended Potosi Schools a couple times. Sylvia attended Potosi in the past and then left to attend Eddyville Blakesburg Fremont school. “I left that school due to a threat, and I did not feel safe anymore, so my parents wanted to solve the problem, since the school wasn't.”  Sylvia mentioned a couple times about how hard the transition was from school to school. “I really enjoy the teachers and the help they provide. I like how everyone is very laid back, but we still get stuff done and are still able to learn.”  Sylvia is inspired by Mr. Downs because he is always so kind. She also said, “He never shows his bad days or raises his voice.” Sylvia said, “The transition was very hard and stressful. I had to say goodbye to my two siblings and father who live four hours away. We didn’t decide I was leaving Eddyville Blakesburg Fremont until a week before I started at Potosi, so it was a very quick transition.”  
Blake Hanfeld is from Potosi but transferred from St. Andrew Thomas school to Potosi High School. He didn’t have much of a choice since St. Andrew Thomas only runs up to eighth grade. “The schools are about the same; the only thing is that the classes are a lot smaller [there],” said Blake. “ The transition was good besides not knowing how to open up my locker.” He added, “Getting used to the setup and how they do things at Potosi High School took about a week to get used to.” He really enjoys the teachers and shop class at Potosi. Blake said, “I never really look forward to coming to school, but that has nothing to do with the school, it’s just school in general.”
Students change schools for multiple reasons; some students have a choice if they want to change schools and some don’t. Being a new student is never a great feeling; trying to fit in or change what you had at the other school is hard. Adjusting to a new school, new classes, and new teachers is not ever easy.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Potosi School District Seeks New Operational Referendum

By Jason Oyen

Some people may wonder why the Potosi School District is experiencing such an increase in open enrolled-in students.  The district believes it is because of the staff being so warm, friendly, and positive. “We know that, because we had a family engagement audit last spring and that’s what they shared with us.  We also believe that the district has a positive reputation because of feedback received from one of the parents of an open enrolled-in student. The parents moved to Platteville from another state to teach at UW-P and called to open enroll their child to Potosi.  When they were asked why they were deciding to open enroll here, they said they’ve heard so many positive things about our district and wanted their child to be a part of that,” said Potosi District Administrator Ron Saari.
Now, the Potosi School Board is considering an operational referendum where they will be asking the citizens of Potosi and Tennyson, as well as the surrounding townships within the Potosi School District boundaries, to consider approving additional support for the school's operations and programming by raising property taxes.  
Saari said that there are three reasons for the operational referendum.  First, the district needs to maintain its programming and be able to compete with neighboring districts.  As of now, Potosi School District averages 9.2 openings per year for staff. This year it was 7, but the year before, there were 13 new staff members.  Annually, that is an average of 18.2 percent of staff turned over. The state average is around 6 percent. “The pool of candidates has dramatically decreased over the past 6 years, and the competition between districts to hire quality staff has increased.  Our focus is to be able to keep the same amount of programming and to keep our teachers working in Potosi instead of transferring to a neighboring district,” said Saari.
Second, the district wants to follow through with their plan for an operational referendum because they know that they need to invest in their tech ed. and agriculture programs. The last time they put money into such programs was over twenty-five years ago.  In today’s job market, there is a high demand for workers in manufacturing and the trades, which are the areas the school plans on enhancing. Potosi School District wants to invest over $150,000 in equipment and training in their industrial arts and agriculture programs.  “It is our hope that students that don’t want to go to college or aren’t able to go to a tech school would be able to graduate from high school having earned an industry certification in an area of their interest. That could be welding, machining, electrical, plumbing, you name it.  Our goal is to provide as many of these certifications as possible,” said Saari. This referendum would also include growing the youth apprenticeship program where juniors and seniors leave campus to gain experience in the workforce.
The third and final reason for the proposed referendum is that the district needs to invest in its capital maintenance fund.  They would like to place at least $45,000 per year into this fund to be used strategically for them to maintain their buildings and grounds.  “It’s our hope that by doing this, we wouldn’t have to go to a facility referendum again,” said Saari.
In the last five years, 15 of the school districts in CESA 3 have passed these types of referendums, which is 48 percent of the 31 school districts in CESA 3.  In the last ten years, 23 districts in CESA 3 (74%) have had to pass these types of referendums to maintain the programs they offer. The last time the district passed this type of referendum was twelve years ago, and if history repeats itself, they may have to do this type of thing once again in another twelve years.  The operational referendum would require taxpayers to pay no more than an additional $29 on a $100,000 home or piece of property in property taxes. Other districts have done similar operational referendums and needed taxpayers to pay anywehre from $75 up to $550 on a $100,000 home. The school board believes that its proposed $29 tax increase is very reasonable and fair, especially when compared to the increased taxes other districts in Southwest Wisconsin are paying for their operational referendums.
Over the past five school years, the district had to cut over $455,000 from its budget.  This includes eliminating positions such as an art teacher, counselor, math teacher, and elementary classroom teachers, as well as restructuring their food service program from four people to two, reducing the bus routes from 6 to 5, and several other cost-saving measures to maintain a balanced budget.  Over the last 7 years, the district has lost 30 students, and their revenue limit, which is the maximum amount of dollars a district can have to operate, has decreased by over $900,000. The amount of state aid the district receives has decreased by over $600,000 over that same time period.
An interesting statistic: last year, the district had 54 open enrolled-in students.  Of those 54, 7 moved into the Potosi School District boundaries over this past summer.  54 open enrolled-in students equals 16 percent of the district’s total student population.  1 out of every 6 students does not live within the district's boundaries. This year the district has 52 open enrolled-in students.  The open enrolled-in students are very valuable to the district because each one of those students brings in $7,055 a year in additional revenue.  When the number of open enrolled-in students is multiplied by $7,055, it generates over $380,000 of additional revenue for the district.
In addition to the staff’s reputation, the district also believes that they are receiving an increase of open enrolled-in students because of their improving student achievement outcomes.  Last year, Potosi School District had the highest state report card they’ve ever had. The district scored a whopping 74.4 percent, which is considered to be “exceeding expectations.”
The district’s improved facilities are another reason why they believe parents are choosing to come here.  When parents are touring and “school shopping”, they share many positive comments about the school facilities, including the auditorium.  Potosi’s excellent special needs program, which they’ve had for quite some time, may also be bringing in students from other places.
Lastly, a positive student body with kids of character is probably one of the biggest reasons why parents are enrolling their students at Potosi.  “Every school may have some students who make poor choices, but the students at Potosi School District, for the most part, are very well behaved and polite,” said Saari.
After discovering several unknown problems with the building during the recent facility referendum, the district knew they had to address those problems. The replacement of the roof above the cafeteria was unexpected, and in fixing this issue, they had to hold back other planned projects they had intended to do.  
As of now, the only thing being accomplished at the school, grounds wise, is the dumpster area in the student parking lot, which is getting a touch-up.  During the summer, Jamie Pierce put gravel under the bleachers and installed a french drain by the softball field. The janitorial staff also relocated the high school teachers’ lounge to the old counselor's room.  In the future, once funds become available, the district would like to flip-flop the current biology room and the foods room, which is often used for concessions. They plan on doing this to make the student section in the gymnasium more accessible.  If this plan were to go into effect, a doorway in a wall in the biology room would have to be created to provide access to the old weight room, which could end up being new restrooms for events in the gym.
The Potosi School District is asking for only the essentials with this referendum, no frills included.  The district hopes that the taxpayers trust them, knowing that they are managing their money in a prudent and efficient way, and that their community will approve this much needed operational referendum.  The referendum is scheduled for Tuesday, April 2, 2019.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Track Co-op May Send More Athletes to State

By Jeffrey Jacobson

Will Potosi/Cassville have a better potential of sending athletes to state in track? I asked some of the athletes from Potosi to see how they felt about the situation. There were some mixed feelings about the co-op, but overall the athletes thought it would be beneficial in the end because of the increase in athletes for the teams. “It will also help,” Taylar Pleumer, a senior track athlete at Potosi said, “because Cassville has a full track that we could all use to practice on.”
A few of the track athletes thought that the co-op would make the team the better. The majority of the people said that it would help because there would be more athletes. Taylar also said that it would help because Cassville has some good athletes that would be good to have on the team. Taylar also added that it will help with the funding because Potosi is having a hard time getting the funds to keep the track program going, but with the co-op, both teams won’t have to worry about any funding problems for a while. Potosi has been lacking funds to run the program and has been just barely getting by. With the co-op, the funding issue will be fixed for Potosi because there will be two schools funding one program.
A few of the track athletes from Potosi thought that the athletes from Potosi and Cassville will get along well because we have already had a co-op in football with Cassville, and that worked out really well. The athletes from Potosi and Cassville are all becoming really good friends from the co-op between football, so there should not be any problems with the co-op in track.
Finally, will this co-op be sending more athletes to state? Lily Reynolds, another Potosi senior, thought that there will be more people going to state because of the increase of athletes. Taylar said that she thought it would send more people to state because the athletes that went to state from Potosi and Cassville will now be on the same team, and because of the increase of boys on the team, which Potosi was lacking. She stated that with the increase of boys on the team, it will help with the boys' relay teams because they will not have to have distance guys running in sprint relays. That will help by improving the relay team that already went to state, and it could make a new relay team that could make it to state.

Monday, November 5, 2018

FCA Impacts Student-Athlete Lives

By Jaydn Noonan

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) is an international non-profit Christian sports ministry based in Kansas City, Missouri.  FCA was founded in 1954. It has staff offices located throughout the United States and abroad. FCA's mission is to lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His church.  Its vision is to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.
FCA was introduced to Potosi three years ago; the coaches were Mr. and Mrs.Siegert, Mrs.Nutter, and Mr.Downs. They began FCA because they found out that many kids were not going to church on a regular basis and thought that a little Christian teaching and fun would be good for them, and they also saw it as a chance for kids to grow closer to God. The school was very open to having an FCA huddle and the student body was okay with this as well. The coaches hoped to have many students involved. Mr. Downs is one of the coaches for the FCA, and he decided to become a coach because he saw the value of FCA through his own children when they were in High School.
Our FCA huddle has meetings every Wednesday night in the foods room and also does activities outside of Potosi. The FCA huddle goes to Fields of Faith in Boscobel each year. They work a concession stand at Badger football games, and went to Des Moines, Iowa for a mission trip for three days last summer. They have also raked leaves for community members during the fall. During the year they encourage the athletes by making posters for the locker rooms.
As a coach for FCA, Mr. Downs has seen a change in the students that attend the FCA huddles regularly he says  “ I have seen lots of changes, some of the kids are going to church more and some kids are seeing the needs of others and are trying to meet them, there is an openness to talking about Christianity in public without being embarrassed.” Mr.Downs hopes more students see the value of FCA and want to join and be a part of it. Right now the FCA huddles have 10-12 students that come on a regular basis. He also hopes to do more service projects that benefit the community.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Boys Basketball Looking Forward From Past Success

By Alex Freese

The Potosi Boys basketball team had a remarkable season last year, ending the season undefeated in conference.  However, in the playoffs, they ran into out-of-conference foe Southwestern. At the end of the game, Southwestern defeated Potosi with a last-second shot. Coach Uppena thought that the season was a good one because of how his team came together and were conference champs.  In addition, they went undefeated, which is not an easy task with the conference they are in. Coach Uppena said, “Unfortunately we got beat way too early in the tournament and that was one of the toughest things that everyone had to deal with.” They lost to Southwestern, which was a 7 seed coming into that game against the Chieftains.  Southwestern would later come out of the sectional, beating Seneca in double overtime 67-66. Coach Uppena’s plan coming into this basketball season is to not let the season end the way it did last year.
Uppena has had the same team with a few additions over the last two seasons.  In those two seasons, his teams had records of 16-9 and 18-6. In that 18-6 season, the Chieftains won the conference. Uppena talked about how in those seasons he gained trust in the players and the players gained the trust in him. Uppena talked about playing time going along with trust, having that trust and knowing what that player can do on the court.
The types of adversity the team had to go through were certainly tough. One of the biggest challenges Uppena had to deal with was the loss of his mom. When they had the wake, the team came and supported their coach and his family, which meant a lot to the Uppena family. A couple players made a few bad decisions over the year.   Player behavior can certainly hurt the team and they have to learn from that. Coach Uppena talked about how those types of things can affect the team when they are rolling along and everything is clicking, then someone makes a poor choice and the “rolling along feeling” comes to a screeching halt.
According to Coach Uppena, one of the toughest things about being the head coach at Potosi is the judgment that people place on you, and not being able to make everyone happy.  How much playing time a player gets is always a big concern to everyone involved.
           Before the 16-17 season, basketball player Ryan Kruser tore his ACL in football and was not able to play his favorite sport. When he came back in 17-18, Kruser was ready to blow some minds with the work he put in on the offseason. He said about that comeback season, “I had a fun time, the team had some talent, and we had good coaches.”
Coach Uppena wasn’t surprised at the performance that Ryan put on in the season he came back. “Ryan would have played his freshman year on varsity, but he got hurt in football and sat out the whole year,” Uppena said. Out of all the negatives that happened that season, Uppena says they got better. The team he has coming back in the 2018-19 season has a lot of experience up and down the line-up. Also his team is getting ready for the season by lifting weights and taking shots in the gym more than any team he has coached this far. He believes there is still more work that needs to be done.
Cuba City and Southwestern are two of the teams that Uppena can’t wait to go up against this year. Uppena likes the tough competition in those teams, but really he can’t wait to play Highland in the first game of the year for the Chieftains, and really he can’t wait to play everyone. The expectations for this Chieftain basketball team are set pretty high from what they accomplished last year. Uppena’s expectation for the 18-19 team is to repeat as undefeated conference champs and go as far as possible in the tournament as they can.  While those are big goals, they certainly have the tools to do that. They have to be focused every day in practice and, Uppena said, “They have to play every day as if they could not play tomorrow.”

Teacher Inservices: Do Teachers Play When Students Are Away?

By Mariah Cull

Students love having a day off once a month, but most probably think the teachers just catch up on grading and planning on those days. They actually do a lot more with those inservice days.
“Inservices are a professional development day, we discuss the school-wide issues that need to addressed and they help teachers and staff.” I interviewed Mrs. Amy Foote to get some information from someone who was newer to the scene. Inservice days introduce staff to workshops that help them learn about new changes going on in schools, such as the new safety measures and the new online classes that Mr. Fry and Mrs. Brunton are teaching. Mrs. Foote recalls visiting two different workshops at one of the inservices: “There was one workshop that specifically trained us in using Schoology and there was another one that taught the staff how to help kids regulate their emotions.”
There is a school staff leadership team, called the SAIL team, that decides what is to be discussed. If there is something that needs addressing immediately then that is something that will be discussed. SAIL stands for School Administrators Institute for Transformational Leadership team. Not every school district allows the staff to be part of the decision-making process, which makes the SAIL team very unique. The team works together to plan the growth of our staff as professionals by setting measurable goals, setting out to achieve those goals, and reflecting on the process. They are focusing on providing responsive and high impact instructional strategies for our students and building social-emotional skills within our staff and students. Science teacher Matthew Eastlick, one of the members of our SAIL team said, “When we grow and get better, students grow and get better.”
There are two more parts of the inservices that are quite possibly the most important, the SLO and PPG. Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) and Professional Practice Goals (PPG) are the means by which our staff and administration set specific goals for their own practice as educators and document their work as professionals.
All of the inservices have to be planned at the least 6 months ahead of time so that they can be approved by the board, then the information can be sent out to the parents and other people. Inservices are primarily for teacher development, Principal Uppena says. “We try to make them the most beneficial to our staff, so that they can be the best teacher that they possibly can. That’s the goal. There’s a lot of pieces that fall into place with what the staff need to do to develop.”
One of the biggest concerns right now, besides the more common problems like bullying and illnesses, is the safety of the school. When everything is in place, the teachers will be taught how to use the new safety measures.
Inservices are mandatory for all staff. One recent inservice discussed and taught CPR; they also discussed the blood borne pathogens that are in our area to try and prevent them from reaching the school. We all have to be aware and learn about some of these issues.
This year they changed the inservice days from half days for the students to a full day off school. They changed this from the two half days a month we had last year. It is now a lot more efficient for not only the school, but the students and parents as well. The teachers were all polled on this and the entire school calendar was changed to accomodate the decision.

The location of the inservice depends on what is being discussed that day. When they are learning the aspects of Schoology, our new online learning program, they will use the computer lab. Other times they will be in the cafeteria using a projector, in the auditorium or in classrooms. Not only are they in the classrooms for the air conditioning and the seating room, but they are in the classrooms because they want to be able to see the process from a student's perspective. Seeing things from a student’s perspective helps the teachers find new ways to improve in the classroom and make learning a good and fun experience.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

After School Jobs Are Sometimes More Than Just Work

By Lily Reynolds

While some need to work to help out their parents, others work for the extra cash or to get a feel of real life. Students can work casual, part time, or full time in high school. Most high schoolers work casual or part-time due to school and extracurricular activities.
Casual is only required to work every other weekend, working full eight-hour shifts, but can pick up more hours. Part-time works about thirty hours a week, including a couple of weekend shifts, and full time is working forty or more hours a week.
“I picked this job because I knew I wanted to go for nursing and that was the first step to getting into nursing school,” said Taylar Pleumer. Taylar is a senior at Potosi High School and works casual at Lancaster Care Center as a CNA. She is required to work every other weekend because she was hired as casual.
As a CNA you take care of elders or rehab patients’ needs by washing them, dressing them or doing anything extra they ask. Getting your CNA requires taking tests online, then completing a written and skills test and passing them both before getting your certification.
Taylar said, “ You are more likely to work harder if your parents don't spoil you.” Her parents encouraged her to get a job because they wouldn't buy her things if she didn't absolutely need them. After being certified as a CNA, she learned there is more value than just money. “I enjoy my job because I like knowing I’m making a difference in other people's lives. It's such a great feeling because most high schoolers don't get that good feeling like you are helping someone.”
Jaydon Carbone, a senior at Potosi High School, works part time. “ I don’t need to work because my parents pay for my stuff,” so he does not work often.  He works at Holiday Gardens Event Center, working about four days a month. At his job, he cleans up the event center, washes dishes and sets up for big events. “ I don’t have the experience of having to manage [between] work, school, or sports.”
In my experience, working and going to school is stressful, but also a way to build some good skills for life. It has helped me realize how to manage my time and how to communicate. I really enjoy working and being in high school because it makes me feel like I'm getting ready for the future. I took work experience my Junior year knowing that I could leave school early to go to work. I now leave school at 2:50 pm and work till 8:00 pm during the week, and on the weekends I work 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm; this is called casual employment.

“I feel the need that people should work in high school,” says Taylar.  “It is an opportunity to get ready for your adulthood and gain responsibility.” It is frustrating because a lot of high schoolers get everything handed to them, and others have to go to bed late due to working.

Mr. Bockenhauer: The Man With the Shop Plan

By Elliot Haverland

It was the end of the first semester, and Potosi High School was in dire need of a new shop teacher. Hope was all but lost. Then a man by the name of Mr. Bockenhauer sent in an application for the position. He came in brimming with new ideas and changes needed to make the shop a better place to learn and have fun. His jolly and witty attitude brought a new atmosphere for the shop and for all of the students that enter the shop. Was he in a little over his head at first? Of course he was. “I always had a plan, but, like most things, plans change. I was never quite prepared for everything,” Bockenhauer stated. Bockenhauer’s first semester as a teacher at Potosi came to a successful close, and his first full school year is off to a great start. His ideas from last semester are still going full steam ahead, and he has even more changes to execute over the course of the school year.
Before he became a shop teacher, Bockenhauer saw himself as an Agricultural Education teacher, even going as far as pursuing his Masters and Doctorate degrees. With this goal in mind, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, majoring in Agricultural Education. However, after seeing the rest of the students who also majored in Ag. Ed., he dropped out of the program and changed his major to Animal Science. Four years later, he graduated from River Falls with his degree in Animal Science and soon began his teaching career at Blackhawk High School as the Tech Ed. Teacher.
The commute between his home near Platteville and Blackhawk was beginning to wear on Bockenhauer. It was a long trip to take every day, driving from Platteville to South Wayne for work. He mentioned his concerns at a Youth Apprenticeship meeting he attended in Fennimore and was overheard by Potosi’s Ag. Ed. teacher, Mrs. Brunton. Mrs. Brunton told Bockenhauer about Potosi’s recently open Tech Ed. position, which would shorten the commute that Bockenhauer had to exhaust himself with on a daily basis. That was something that Bockenhauer just couldn’t pass up.
The first trick to starting the job at Potosi was jumping in at the start of the second semester, which meant little prep time to get plans going in the shop. One of the biggest challenges Bockenhauer faced was how his ideas would be perceived by the community and the school. Many of the changes were basic, such upgrading the tools and getting new ones. Adding new classes and changing other classes were among the bigger changes he had in mind, including adding the core course like Mechanics, Metals, Structures, and Woods. From there, the classes would branch into more advanced disciplines, such as Engineering Design and Workplace Management. With the help of Mrs. Brunton, he was able to add these classes to the curriculum for the 2018-19 school year. “My goal is to give the students experience and teach them what they need to know, as well as teach them how to apply what they know.”
Bockenhauer tackled his first semester as best as he could, and he’s now glad that students are having fun in his classes. Building relationships with the students was one of his greatest fears when switching districts. “I’ve always been lousy at building relationships; it took me a good chunk of time to get to know the kids at Blackhawk, and now I get to do it all over again,” Bockenhauer noted. Despite his worries, he never had any issues with getting to know the students. In fact, there are even more students in the shop classes than last year. “I’m glad that the students are out in the shop having fun and excited about projects, I really am. I’m glad that everybody is happy to go and work in the shop.”
Mrs. Brunton thinks he did a fantastic job during his first semester. “He took on a very dirty and unorganized shop and turned it into a very clean workspace for everyone to use.” Mrs. Brunton helped Bockenhauer throughout the first semester to get used to how things worked at Potosi, helping him with the Skyward and Educlimber programs.
With one semester at Potosi under his belt, he was able to better prepare for a full school year over the summer. He built up the new courses and planned out projects for the whole school year. As well as getting his classes organized, he also became an Assistant FFA Advisor to help Mrs. Brunton run the Potosi FFA. Besides just helping organize FFA activities, he also helps Mrs. Brunton avoid being away with the FFA teams so frequently for events, and allows her to stay in the classroom more often. Brunton notes Bockenhauer’s progress in the shop as well, “He has a very good plan on what he wants to teach. He knows what equipment he has and what he can offer. The administration is really beginning to notice the changes and is planning to provide lots more funding from a referendum coming up this April to update things and get new equipment.”
Over the time that Bockenhauer has been at Potosi, he has taken a liking to the culture and the community. He developed fantastic relationships with the students, “You guys as students, you’re all great.” The administration and his coworkers were good to him, and he also likes the facilities and the shop. He especially likes that his shop still needs work. “I liked the fact that the shop needed a good chunk of work. That way I could make it the way I want it and I can make it so it fits the needs of the students. I can create a great atmosphere for working and make a good workspace.”

The impact that Mr. Bockenhauer has made at Potosi is immense. He took an old run-down shop and is turning it into a fantastic area to work on projects and teach students skills to use later in life. He showed off his intelligence and ability when he started teaching in the middle of a school year, and continues to show everyone what makes him such a good teacher. He is very knowledgeable about what he teaches and keeps his classes fun and entertaining for every student who walks in the door. He knows each student as a friend and shows interest in their hobbies and interests. He likes to joke around and keep people on their toes, making things exciting at the same time. He treats every student with the utmost respect and makes sure everyone understands the game plan before moving on to the next topic in class, and he doesn’t tolerate excuses. His ideas and changes are what have turned the shop into the fun environment it is today.

Technology Enhances the School Experience

By Jaydon Pfab

Chromebooks. You love them, I love them, they are very helpful for everyday learning. How much do they really help us learn though? Kids using their Chromebooks for watching football highlights and shopping for clothes is becoming a normal sight.  Walking around, I saw teachers and students using technology and asked them what they thought of the possible distractions. Have Chromebooks helped increase productivity or have they distracted the kids of Potosi High School?
The view of Mrs. Brunton is an interesting one. She believes that Chromebooks are the next wave of learning. Kids often have trouble paying attention, and the use of old technology doesn't help. Writing things down doesn’t keep most kids’ attention, and schools needed a way to integrate technology that kids are familiar with, while still keeping the theme of learning. Brunton feels that Chromebooks are a good mediator between the two. There are a large number of restrictions that can be placed on the Chromebooks, along with the ability to monitor actions that students make on them. With the combination of the ability to block certain dangerous websites and make available only educational ones, Chromebooks are the school’s best tools for learning. For Mrs. Brunton, this means a perfect tool for researching wildlife, and an online notebook for her students to take notes on. She has her students use Chromebooks to take notes because some kids have a hard time keeping up with writing the notes, but with kids’ involvement in technology these days, a keyboard is much more familiar for them. With the introduction of personal Chromebooks, classes have been able to take notes without having to ask the teacher to go back ten slides. Another thing Mrs. Brunton likes is the addition of Schoology for her online classes. The ability to put all of her assignments online for her distance learning students who don't go to Potosi is very handy. She can assign tests and quizzes online without having to go through another teacher at another school. Mrs. Brunton approves of the use of technology in the school and is excited to see the next step of technology in the learning environment.
Mr. Lynn sees technology similarly. He thinks that Chromebooks increase the quality of work and allow students to work faster. Mr. Lynn has noticed an increase of kids turning assignments in on time with the transition to Schoology. He says that teaching is easier not having to spend every second of his day chasing students and trying to get their late homework. “Kids always want an easy way,” Lynn said when asked why he thinks kids turn in homework more online. It is much easier to turn in a paper by clicking a button instead of walking 50 feet to turn the paper into a basket. He uses Chromebooks to teach as well. Kids use Chromebooks to take tests but can ask for a paper test if they prefer it. He makes his lesson plans online and has never done them on paper. It is much easier to access lesson plans that are online instead of taking a lesson plan book around with you that you can lose. Mr. Lynn also thinks that kids are lucky with the technology they have today and that they take it for granted. Kids have always had technology and think that they deserve it, when in reality, it is a privilege that can be taken away.
How do students feel about the use of technology in school? Jason Oyen says that Chromebooks, although useful, are also annoying. He says it is very handy not having to lug large textbooks around, and turning in homework is much easier knowing that he won't lose it. He said that he dislikes the fact that since he isn’t writing things down, it is harder for him to remember some topics. With access to most of the internet, it is hard to stay focused at all times, but Jason says that he doesn’t have much trouble with getting distracted. He likes the addition of Schoology and says it is a good way to sort all of his upcoming tests and assignments. The one major drawback, he says, is the fact of always having to have it charged and ready to go. “Teachers expect you to always have it ready to use but it is hard to remember to charge them at your house. Plus some teachers won’t let you charge them during class,” he said.
Elliot Haverland likes the personal Chromebooks as well, but brings his own laptop to have more personalization. He says that it is nice to just know that his Chromebook will be there if he ever needs it. Having internet in school doesn't distract him often he says, but gets really distracting when he tries to do homework other places, such as his house. Elliot says that Schoology, while handy, can be very confusing based on the teacher using it. He never had to worry about caring for the Chromebook because he would charge it once a week and it would last for that week. All around, Elliot thought that Chromebooks have only really helped with the learning around Potosi High.

As a general consensus, teachers and students alike seem to like the addition of Chromebooks in the school setting, as well as the addition of technology in general. They say it helps with productivity and, even though it can be distracting at times, it increases workflow in the long run. Most teachers said that they would rather the kids keep the Chromebooks and continue the work online.

Potosi Spanish Students Heading to Costa Rica

By Maggie Schmitz

Do you like traveling to exotic places? Do you like doing adventurous activities such as hiking up volcanoes, exploring rainforests, and scuba diving in the beautiful ocean? If the answer is yes, then you’re in luck! For the first time in Potosi High School history, students will have the opportunity to travel internationally and enjoy 10 days of paradise in Costa Rica.
Potosi High School has wanted to have an international travel opportunity available for students for a long time and the opportunity is finally here. It is difficult for a small school to travel internationally because of the small number of people combined with the high cost of international travel. This is why Lancaster had the idea to include Potosi on this summer’s trip to Costa Rica. To get the trip approved, the Potosi Spanish teacher, Laura Hartline, had to write a proposal and present it to the school board. Then she had to answer a long list of questions. The school board approved the trip without any arguments or trouble. Getting this trip approved and actually starting to make it a reality has been a big deal for Mrs. Hartline, as she has wanted to provide a Spanish trip to her students since she started teaching. She says, “I feel like to teach kids Spanish, but not give them an opportunity to use it in the real world, is not good enough.” Now that the trip is approved and underway Mrs.Hartline is more ecstatic than ever and can’t wait for the trip to be here. She says, “Personally I’d like to go to Costa Rica because I’ve never been there and I want to experience it with my students. I am also super excited to see sloths.”
Mrs. Hartline will be attending the trip as a chaperone along with the Lancaster Spanish teacher, Mr. Howard, the Lancaster biology teacher, and the Lancaster school nurse. Since Potosi will be going with Lancaster on the trip, Mrs. Hartline hopes to set up a day where Potosi students and Lancaster students can meet each other prior to the trip. “Going on a trip with random strangers is a little anxiety producing, but I am going to branch out of my comfort zone and work on meeting new people,” says one Potosi student planning to attend the trip. Many students probably feel this way, which is why Mrs. Hartline hopes to set up a day where students can meet each other so they are more comfortable when it comes time for the trip.
The trip participants will be flying out of the Chicago O’Hare airport on July 17th, and landing in San Jose, Costa Rica. They will return home on July 27th. While in Costa Rica, students will get to experience many adventurous activities like scuba diving in the ocean, hiking up volcanoes, ziplining through the rainforest, relaxing on the sandy beaches, and enjoying some city time where they can explore the different culture by shopping, trying new foods, and experiencing the different amenities offered in the city.
The trip will also consist of a service project of planting trees in the rainforest to help with the deforestation issue in Costa Rica. While on the trip, they will be moving around to explore the different cities in Costa Rica while staying in three- or four-star hotels for two nights in each different city.
When students hear about all of the exciting opportunities offered on this trip they often wonder if they can go too. Any student of Potosi high school in grades 10 through 12 is eligible to attend. Mrs.Hartline wants the students attending the trip to have had at least two years of Spanish. Although anyone is welcome, there is only room for 28 students to attend. If the number of students interested in coming surpasses 28, then the number of years of Spanish each student has had, and if they will have the opportunity to go another year, would be factored into deciding who to bring. Students will also have to pay the $3,000 fee for the trip. Though this seems like a lot, this will cover the cost of a 24/7 tour guide, hotels, plane tickets, activities, and two meals a day. If the students would like to purchase any additional food or souvenirs, they should bring extra spending money. To help students afford the trip, fundraising options will be available. Students have the option to sell salsa and Pampered Chef products, and other fundraising options are being set up too. Bake sales and other events will also be set up to help raise money to tip the tour guides while in Costa Rica. Since the trip was planned later than desired, some students are scared of the high cost and lack of time to fundraise and save. A student attending the trip says, “I plan to afford the trip by working my butt off. I am going to work a lot and put a reasonable amount of my paychecks toward this trip. I also plan to take every fundraising opportunity I can get.” All students will also need their own passport. A passport costs about $150 and can be set up by going to the courthouse in Lancaster and filling out a passport application form.
To prepare for the trip, Mrs.Hartline recommends that students who haven’t recently taken a Spanish class should brush up on some common words and phrases. She also suggests that the students learn about Costa Rica, and she says she will be having some meetings in the future to go over some information about the country.  When packing for the trip, be conscious that the weather in Costa Rica is very hot and humid. Since there will be no fancy outings, students should just pack comfortable everyday clothing that is appropriate for the weather and activities that they will be doing. A quality and comfortable pair of shoes is recommended, since a lot of walking and hiking will occur. The students should also check with their cell phone provider for an international cell phone plan if they would like to be able to use their device in Costa Rica. Otherwise, the hotels will have wifi, along with places in the city if students would like to contact your family and friends or if they would like to check up on social media accounts. Students should also do anything that they feel is necessary to prepare for this trip. One student says, “I will be going on lots of walks to get in shape and prepare for the long hikes.”
This trip will be a great opportunity to make memories, meet new people, and experience many fun adventures while in a different country. When returning home from Costa Rica, the students will get to talk about hiking up volcanoes, seeing cool animals, visiting the rainforest, swimming in the ocean, and how they experienced a new culture. So, instead of having to be jealous of what they got to do while you sat at home bored, come along and have some fun!

What It Is Like To Be 'The New Kid'

By Lily Reynolds Even in a small school, new students transfer in, and the students that have been here sometimes don't realize that...