Readiness program helps students

The Ramp up to Readiness program is helping current and future Central graduates pursue a post-secondary education. (Adam Gruenewald/The Times)

by Adam Gruenewald
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Central Middle School and High School students are getting the enhanced preparation they need for their future as part of a program.
Sixth-grade teacher Rachel Pexa shared the impact of a Ramp Up to Readiness program installed at Central last year that works to prepare students in a variety of post-secondary education opportunities.
While it is somewhat difficult to ascertain whether the University of Minnesota program is completely working, Pexa told Central School Board members anecdotes of the successes during their regular meeting on Monday, May 23.
Recent events such as a March 10 panel that involved Central graduates in college and a May 12 career panel that involved members of the community were encouraging.
Pexa touted the benefits of exposing students to a variety of facets of post-secondary education on a weekly basis such as early exposure to career options, concepts of college, study habits and financial aid at a basic level for younger students and test preparation, goal-setting, debt and loan programs and ACT/SAT tests for older students.
“Our Ramp Up to Readiness program is a program that helps all of our students with the knowledge, the skills and the attitude for success in that post-secondary education,” said Pexa. “It’s 2017, our kids need to be going on from high school with some sort of intention to get an education beyond that.”
Thus far, 62 percent of last year’s graduates were planning on attending a 4-year college, 18 percent were planning on a 2-year college and 14 percent were undecided, while 46 percent of this year’s graduates are planning on attending a 4-year college, 24 percent are planning on attending a 2-year college and 7 percent are undecided.
The percentage of undecided students remains a key concern.
“We want kids to move on past the (stage of) I don’t know what I want to do and I’m just going to work for a while and figure it out,” said Pexa, “to I think I can do this and I have the tools necessary to get there.”
Middle School Principal Ron Erpenbach and High School Principal Tom Erickson had enthusiasm for the program as it will coincide with improvements across the district.
“This model is going to be what drives our Middle School improvement plan for the next couple of years,” said Erpenbach, adding teacher-students relationships are changing. “This isn’t going to be completely it, but it’s going to be the driving force in a lot of the improvements we make. It will be a big chunk of work for us, but we’re ready to do it.”
Pexa said she and other teachers should remain passionate about the program.
“We want our kids to make it and we want them to do well,” she said. “This program is going to get us there.”
In principal reports, Elementary Principal Michael Daugs, Middle School Principal Ron Erpenbach and High School Principal Tom Erickson shared plenty of highlights of end-of-the-year activities with still upcoming events prior to the end of the school year.
As activities director, Erpenbach also shared the successes of recent programs as well as highlighted potential changes with the Minnesota River Conference, the dissolving on a potential cross country co-op with Lester Prairie and thanked
School board members did review the dissolving on a player agreement with Emanuel Lutheran that will take place next year. Already an agreement with St. John’s Lutheran School was terminated a year prior.
Responding to questions from school board members, Erpenbach said that agreements could still be made per sport per season if requested by the schools formally.
School Board members also approved a total of $8,500 in donations for weight room equipment, approved a 2017-18 food service contract with Taher with minimal changes, approved the 2017 revised budget that took into account changed in roofing projects and the 1 to 1 program, OK’d a long-term facilities maintenance plan with the Southwest Metro Intermediate District, and also accepted donations of $300 from Andy Hendel Foundation to SSSR for Mental Health break day, $50 from Carver Lions to FFA for a pork stand, $135 from Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association for an agriculture tour and $5,000 from First to robotics.
Board members Dean Lind and Craig Pexa were absent.
The District 108 Central School Board will next meet at 6 p.m. in NYA on Monday, June 26, with a potential workshop to discuss district goals upcoming as well.

Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.