School district doesn’t need more Eeyores

We ran a story about Newton High School’s Advanced Placement (AP) program on the front page this week, because we think it’s a big deal.

No other high school in Kansas, not Bishop Carroll, not Independent, not a Johnson County school can claim what NHS can: being named to the AP Honor roll three times in the last eight years and for back to back years.

To get the honor, the school district has to increase the number of students taking advance placement classes, which allow them to qualify for college credit and to maintain or increase the amount of students doing well on the testing that comes with the classes.

That takes, hard work from teachers and students and an organized game plan, something the high school has shown that it has. For this year, 197 students have or will enroll in AP classes.

Why is that a big deal? It shows that Newton High School continues to grow the rigorous course work that it offers students and continues to have students do well in that course work. It shows that when it comes to college readiness, NHS can preform at the top of the state. It shows again that our high school and is something to be proud of.

It would be a huge deal if it were a stand-alone achievement. But it’s not. Pair that with the school’s career and technical education classes it offers. NHS hosts a wide variety of classes that give students certification and training in technical fields such as nursing, mechanics, business and the culinary arts.

These certifications have curriculum in part dictated by local advisors and those working in the professions the CTE classes work to train students for. And enrollment in such classes numbers in the hundreds each year. Some employers will hire students with CTE certifications straight out of high school.

NHS accounted for nearly 20 percent of the students who earned the inaugural CTE Scholar designation by the State of Kansas, which honors those that have taken CTE classes and maintained high grade point averages.

All that being said, Newton has one of the best AP programs in the state. Newton has one of the best CTE programs in the state.

One could make an argument that if your child wants to go to college or into a trade, few locations in the state offer as strong of options for post-secondary advancement as Newton High School.

More simply put, Newton High School prepares students for life.

That’s something the district should be yelling from the rooftops.

The Newton School Board heard the results of a recent communications audit at its last board meeting.

The auditors said that people regularly associate drugs and bullying with the school district.

That might be because we have regular events talking about the amount of drugs at the high school. We hear the line over and over at community gatherings that our schools deal with a high amount of poverty. Free and reduced lunches, for context, aren’t any higher in Harvey County than in the State of Kansas.

We hear that there’s never enough money. We hear that we don’t have as nice of facilities as other districts. We repeat so many knocks on our school district.

But here’s the deal: Maize isn’t going to tell people how great Newton is. Valley Center won’t. Derby won’t. Campus won’t. Goddard won’t.

Newton residents are the only people who will promote how outstanding our schools are. We have to tell our own message, people, and it has to be one that doesn’t sound like we hired Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh to promote our school district. That story about the outstanding AP performance we wrote happened because Principal Lisa Moore reached out to us and said, “Hey, look at this. This is awesome.”

Newton High School provides an outstanding option for all students to prepare for the next level of life. We’ve got the numbers, awards and information to back that up.

That’s a solid building block for our school district and, really, community to build a much-needed promotional campaign around.

It’s a message they should repeat over and over until people outside of Newton understand just how good our schools are in this community.

It’s an understanding and perception we need if we hope to continue to grow our tax base, our businesses, our population and our community as a whole in a time when the quality of a school district is often the determining factor in the relocation or a family or what community people choose to start one in.