BACK TO SCHOOL: New year, new bleachers, new library at WHS

In Tina Drake’s third year at the helm of Wellington High School, 350 Dukes will have new football bleachers and a modernized library to enjoy.

Nearly two years after old bleachers were condemned, the school’s Dickson Street stadium will one again have permanent seating. Crews were spotted putting the structure’s frame together Monday, just in time for WHS’s home football opener next Friday.

The school library underwent a $65,000 refurbishing that aims to create a “media hub” for students. New furniture, skylights, and glass doors accompany a device recharging station for phones, tablets, and laptops.

“These are good kids here and they deserve to have nice things like this,” Drake said. “The process with the bleachers has been long but everyone is going to be very happy filling up the new seats.”

Class time for students has been extended by 20 minutes, now running from 7:50 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“After the first couple of weeks, what’s another 20 minutes?” Drake asked. “You get into a routine and that’s the end of it. On a daily basis, it’s only about three extra minutes per class period. At the end of the year, though, it’s going to amount to valuable time for our teachers and students.”

Coming back to the district this year is the Measures of Academic Progress test, which will be taken in the fall and spring. The evaluation is meant to gauge students’ readiness for state exams and does not factor into grading. Drake said teens should expect to take the MAP sometime during the first two weeks of September.

On Oct. 11, McCormick Middle School eighth-graders and all WHS students will take the PSAT. For the first time, results from the test will be sent to Khan Academy, a free online tutoring service long used by teachers in Wellington.

A college and career preparation day is planned for the same date, which will include seniors departing for college visits and job shadowing.

The window to retake state tests from last school year begins Dec. 4.

“They need 18 total test points to graduate but the state says four need to come from math and four need to come from English,” Drake said. “So those will be the first two areas we focus on with retakes. The remainder of the points will come from science and social studies.”

Drake said new options for how students accumulate those 18 points have been added by state officials. They include taking College Credit Plus classes and SAT scores into account. The changes start with the Class of 2018.

“It could be their way of trying it out for this year to see how it works,” she said. “It could be one of those things where the state is backpedaling a bit and taking a chance to reanalyze things and fix it for these kids. They’ve changed so many things while these kids are in school and it just isn’t fair sometimes.”

Spring testing for language arts, math, biology, and social studies will fall between March 26 and May 11.

Like many districts in Lorain County, Wellington is trying to bounce back from falling state report card grades.

“Our numbers are coming up,” Drake said. “The problem is the state keeps raising the bar and we can’t quite get there yet. I hope people take the time to look at the report card and not just see that we got a D or we got an F. Go back to past report cards and really compare our scores.”

Advanced Placement biology classes will be available this year and Drake hopes to add more in the next few years. She said the new curriculum will serve as a good vehicle to bring students back who’ve chosen to open enroll in other districts.

Outside of academics, Drake said social and communication skills are the traits she tries hardest to pass on to Dukes as they pass through WHS.

“Many of us don’t succeed the first time, but how do we handle that?” she asked. “How do we move on from it? You have to learn to fight for yourself. Question people so you know what’s going on. When you graduate, you have to know how to do it. It comes down to communication and self-confidence.”

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

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Principal Tina Drake is set to begin her third year at the helm of Wellington High School and will welcome 350 students to the building. Tina Drake is set to begin her third year at the helm of Wellington High School and will welcome 350 students to the building.

Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise

The refurbished library will boast brand new furniture, glass doors, skylights, and electrical infrastructure. refurbished library will boast brand new furniture, glass doors, skylights, and electrical infrastructure.

Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise

By Jonathan Delozier