Hillsboro Elementary “Star Students” were honored by the Board of Education Monday. Pictured are (front, l-r) Izzy Storer, Wyatt Mattynka, Hunter Seeling, Trenton Ford and Ava Walsh; (center, l-r) Peyton Spurlock, Braelynn Hopkins, Tatum Whipkey, Maitlyn Vaughn, Lucy Reno, Hyato Kashiki and Kaydence Butler; and (back, l-r) school board members Tom Milbery, Beverly Rhoads, Bill Myers, Jerry Walker, Larry Lyons and student representative Joe Helterbrand. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Hillsboro Elementary “Star Students” were honored by the Board of Education Monday. Pictured are (front, l-r) Izzy Storer, Wyatt Mattynka, Hunter Seeling, Trenton Ford and Ava Walsh; (center, l-r) Peyton Spurlock, Braelynn Hopkins, Tatum Whipkey, Maitlyn Vaughn, Lucy Reno, Hyato Kashiki and Kaydence Butler; and (back, l-r) school board members Tom Milbery, Beverly Rhoads, Bill Myers, Jerry Walker, Larry Lyons and student representative Joe Helterbrand. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Members of the Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education heard a report on new “diploma seals” beginning across the state with the classes of 2021 and honored “Star Students” from Hillsboro Elementary during their Monday, Nov. 18 meeting.

According to the Ohio Department of Education’s website (education.ohio.gov), these diploma seals ensure students are “prepared for college or careers.” The “state diploma seals” were outlined in House Bill 166, the legislation for the 2020-21 state operating budget, and the ODE is working to update information and “additional guidance” to districts, as written on their website.

“Ohio law created 12 seals for students to demonstrate academic, technical and professional readiness for
careers, college, the military or self-sustaining professions,” the Ohio Department of Education website says. “Each seal allows students to demonstrate knowledge and skills essential for future success.

“Seals help students develop an array of critical skills that are valuable to them as they transition to the next steps after high school.”

Superintendent Tim Davis told the Hillsboro board that there are nine state-sanctioned seals. Students (beginning with this year’s junior class) will be required to complete two seals, at least one of which must be a state seal.

“Each student that’s going to be graduating in 2021 has to meet two seals,” Davis said. “One has to be from the state, or both can be from the state, but you can’t have two local seals.”

There are three options listed for “locally defined diploma seals,” which are Fine & Performing Arts, Student Engagement and Community Service. According to the Ohio Department of Education, “State law requires each district or school to develop guidelines for at least one of the locally defined state diploma seals.”

All three local seal options will be offered in Highland County. According to Davis, counselors from all five Highland County districts worked together to determine the guidelines for students. In the event a student transfers to another high school in the county, having the same guidelines for each seal will help ensure “a smoother transition between districts and the task of information management,” the resolution says.

“Our counselors got together with the other districts in Highland County, so if a kid is from Leesburg and comes to Hillsboro, we made the seals all align because they’re dealing with four years,” Davis said.

Davis explained the requirements for the local seals as follows:

• Fine & Performing Arts: Students can select from four years of band, choir or advanced art classes or participating in two theatre productions, either as a cast or crew member. They will also complete a “rubric with the instructor or advisor.”

• Student Engagement: Students must participate in “at least two activities, clubs or athletics during their high school career” and complete a “reflection form.”

• Community Service: Students have to participate in “20 hours of unpaid” community service, “complete a reflection sheet, complete the community service hours chart and an exit interview.”

Board president Bill Myers asked what the options are for the other nine state seals. Davis listed the nine state seal options, which are: OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal, State Seal of Biliteracy, Industry-Recognized Credential Seal, College-Ready Seal, Military Enlistment Seal, Citizenship Seal, Science Seal, Honors Diploma Seal and Technology Seal.

“That’s what they’ve come up with, and you get some flexibility for what they need to do, but basically it’s giving something back to the community or participating in school functions,” Davis said.

Board member Jerry Walker asked if the seals are “actual, tangible seals.”

“They’re supposed to be put on the diplomas,” Davis said.

Myers asked if students could complete more than the two required seals. “I think you only get two,” Davis said.

The board voted 6-0 to approve the local diploma seal requirements.

• • • 

Mr. Jacob Zink, Hillsboro Primary School principal, introduced several of the second and third grade “Star Students” for the first nine weeks to the board for recognition Monday night.

“Each teacher has the ability to nominate two students at the end of each nine weeks,” Zink told the board. “They look for students who are helpful, who are kind, who make sure they complete their work and do everything they can to help the teacher every day in the classroom.

“We have a lot of great students at Hillsboro Elementary, but these are some of our best, and I wanted to take a moment to recognize them because they’ve worked so hard.”

In attendance at Monday night’s meeting were second graders Kaydence Butler, Hyato Kashiki, Lucy Reno, Maitlyn Vaughn and Tatum Whipkey and third graders Trenton Ford, Braelynn Hopkins, Wyatt Mattynka, Hunter Seeling, Peyton Spurlock, Izzy Storer and Ava Walsh.

(Other “Star Students” for the first quarter included second graders Khaleeq A., Gavin B., Hailey E., Ryan P. and Rush W. and third graders Kenny C., Emmelyn C., Aries L., Wyatt L., Jackson R. and Molly V.)

Davis presented each student with a gift certificate to Ponderosa, and school board members and parents in attendance gave the students a round of applause.

“We want to say to thank you to the parents,” Myers said. “It’s obvious they get it from you guys, and we just appreciate the ability to be with the kids day in and day out.”

• • •

In the superintendent and committee reports:

• Student representative Joe Helterbrand discussed several activities in the past month. The high school’s FFA chapter traveled to Indianapolis, Ind. for the National Convention, Oct. 28 through Nov. 1. Three Hillsboro FFA members — Ellie Elmore, Hillary Hamilton and Brittany Rhoads — received their American Degree during the convention.

Helterbrand also reported on the Veterans Day assembly, which he said the Student Council and National Honor Society helped organize.

“They provided meals for veterans to come before the assembly and honored them, as well as having Alex Butler speak to all of us and the veterans,” Helterbrand said.

For winter sports, Helterbrand said that swimming and wrestling have begun practices, and boys and girls basketball teams have participated in scrimmages. The Hillsboro girls basketball season begins Nov. 22, and the first boys game is Dec. 3.

• Davis also discussed the Veterans Day program in his report as well as the recent school play. The superintendent said that the school’s production of “You Can’t Take It With You,” which was held Nov. 15-17, was “outstanding.”

“Mr. and Mrs. [Jeff and Jenna] Horick put that on, and it’s unbelievable how talented our kids are, and the things that they can memorize,” Davis said. “It was a great play.”

Board members Beverly Rhoads and Larry Lyons also commended the students and staff on the play.

In other district business, a professional development day was held Nov. 1, and interim report cards will be issued Nov. 26, according to Davis.

“We’ve got less than 20 [school] days before Christmas, if you can believe that,” Davis said. “The school year is flying by.

“There’s a lot of positives right now for the district.”

• Rhoads reported that she attended the Ohio School Boards Association Capital Conference and informed the board about the most recent Great Oaks Career Campuses Board meeting. During that meeting, board members heard a presentation from representatives of the American Heart Association on vaping, where they were told “in 2018, more than 10 percent of eighth graders and more than 26 percent of 12th graders vaped in any given month.”

Also during the Great Oaks meeting, board members approved “revisions to numerous policies;” “an agreement with Butler Health Plan to open a clinic for area Butler Health Plan members and their dependents” at the Scarlet Oaks campus; and “a FY2021 document to be submitted to the Hamilton County Budget Commission to begin the process for fiscal year 2021.”

•  Lyons reported that the finance committee met Monday evening prior to the regular board meeting and that he attended the OSBA Capital Conference.

“A couple of the sessions on legislative updates were surrounding the budget,” Lyons said. “As far as other legislative information, I attended a session where the committees were taking a look at this issue of vaping and then a couple other sessions.”

• Myers said that the district’s Veterans Day program is “an honor” to attend and spoke about how impressed he is “to see how our students respect the veterans.”

“Just the love that they pour out — the applause, the standing ovations they give them — it gives me gooseflesh every year, just seeing that many kids in one place showing that much respect,” Myers said. “It’s very well-deserved by those that we got to honor that came out.”

• • •

District treasurer Ben Teeters reported that the district’s finances remain “on an even keel, with income keeping with expenses.” According to his report, the district’s General Fund had a balance of $7,434,626 in October 2019, compared to $7,677,919 in October 2018; monthly expenses of $2,278,067 in October 2019, compared to $2,424,916 in October 2018; and monthly revenues of $2,540,202 in October 2019, compared to $2,189,519 in October 2018.

• • •

In other action:

• The board voted 6-0 to approve a transfer of $43,924.93 from the General Fund to the Bond Retirement/Ohio Association of School Officials (OASBO) Pool. According to Teeters, this is the district’s “payment for when we built the buildings for the gym expansion and the bus garage.”

• The board unanimously approved a number of donations, including a $500 donation from Dollar General for school supplies for elementary students; a $2,000 donation from Anuradha Kulkarni toward clothing for needy students; $100 from Jaden Skeens of 2 Guys & Some Mowers toward the Robotics program; and the following donations for the Power Pack/Weekend Warrior program: Anonymous, $200; Magulac Fleet Service, $200; William and Lori Magulac, $100; and Merchants National Bank, $250.

As previously reported, during the board’s October meeting, board member Tom Milbery read a statement pleading with the community to help support the district’s Power Pack program for food-insecure families, which “sends snacks home with students over the weekends and extended school breaks.” As of that meeting, 39 children were unable to receive food through this program due to a lack of funds.

Myers thanked the community for responding to Milbery's request.

“We want to say a special thank you to these people,” Myers said. “We put out a little plea with our last meeting, and it’s nice to see the community step up.”

Additional donations to the PowerPack program can be made by visiting https://secure3.convio.net/fsfb/site/Donation2?idb=1648967563&DONATION_LEVEL_ID_SELECTED=1&df_id=5682&mfc_pref=T&5682.donation=form1&idb=[[S76:idb]]. To ensure the funding goes to Hillsboro’s Power Pack program, click the button that says “Make this gift in honor/memory of someone else,” then type “Hillsboro Elementary” in the box that says “Honoree Name.”

The board voted 6-0 on the following other motions Monday:

• The board approved two leaves of absence for district teachers: Kristie Cornele, Oct. 1-Oct. 11; and Ashley Fisher, Dec. 23, 2019 through Feb. 16, 2020.

• The board approved the following resignations: Joann Davis, high school secretary, for retirement purposes effective June 30, 2020; Leslie Lerch, middle school teacher, for retirement purposes effective May 31, 2020; and Jeff Miller, high school varsity boys bowling coach, effective Oct. 21, 2019.

• The board approved individuals for sub certificated, sub classified, supplemental and volunteer positions.

• The board approved coed indoor high school track as a school-sponsored activity.

• The board adopted a resolution appointing Rhoads to continue as their representative on the Great Oaks Career Campuses Governing Board.

• The board approved two early graduates.

• The board approved a $200 membership with SATH (Supplementary Assistance to the Handicapped), which will include two scholarship applications for special needs students.

• At 7:34 p.m., the board moved to enter into executive session “for the purpose of the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion or compensation of a public employee.” Myers said that he did not anticipate any action to be taken following the executive session Monday.