Ray-Pec honors top student academic achievers

Special to the Democrat MissourianNovember 8, 2013 

More than 1.5 million high school students across the nation take the Preliminary SAT every year. Last year in Missouri, only those scoring in the top 1 percent on this test qualified for the National Merit Scholarship program.

For the first time in school history, Ray-Pec High School had three students in one year make it into the semifinals. At the Oct. 24 Raymore-Peculiar Board of Education meeting, school board members recognized the elite trio of students (Elizabeth Daugherty, Christopher “Kit” Leonard and Laura Wiseman) for earning this prestigious academic honor. “This is an outstanding honor, and we wish them luck in the next phase,” Principal Steven Miller said.

Moving on to informational items, the board first heard a program evaluation on the library media center from Karen Hurst, director of curriculum, assessment and elementary education. As of the meeting, Hurst indicated that there are 82,938 books in the K-12 library system as compared to approximately 68,000 two years ago, which shows significant progress in the circulation reach of the program.

In support of the district’s Lexile goals, she said labeling of books at the K-6 level will be 100 percent completed by August of 2014. At appropriate levels, instruction will be given on searching for books at students’ Lexile levels and creating Lexile resource lists. By the end of the 2014-15 school year, the library curriculum will be 100 percent aligned with the Missouri Learning Standards and presented to the board for approval.

Assistant Superintendent Jay Harris gave a presentation on the district’s safety and security program. Taking a lesson from all of the national tragedies related to school safety breaches in recent years, Harris reminded board members that no school is ever immune to problems when it comes to safety – no matter how good its program may be.

“The safety and well-being of all of our students and staff is paramount in the Ray-Pec School District,” Harris said. “As sad as it is, it’s important that we talk about it and do everything we can as a community and as a school district to provide a safe school.”

Harris spoke in detail about the district’s School Safety Task Force, which is partnering with local law enforcement to promote safety and increase visibility in and around schools and working with a new school community liaison officer hired by the city. This task force holds monthly meetings to discuss and debrief school safety situations, review current practices, improve and enhance school safety measures, and create new school safety programs and/or strategies. He also introduced a new feature, “Talk About It,” in the district’s School Messenger communications system that enables students to report school safety/bullying issues anonymously.

“When you think about school safety, you are responsible, I’m responsible, everyone in this room is responsible – even the community is responsible,” said Harris. “And reporting is an important part of that responsibility.”

The district’s safety and security program is also partnering with Ray-Pec Community Alliance, the National Alliance on Mental Health, and various parent and community engagement groups to enhance school safety as well as conducting active shooter intruder response training.

“I’ve really been impressed by the willingness of Cass County, Raymore, and Peculiar police to work with us,” Superintendent Kari Monsees said. “They all work very well with Jay and his team. The level of cooperation is just great — that’s something we are lucky to have and can be proud of in our community.”

The BOE also approved the 2013-14 bus routes as presented.

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