Indian River School District

Leaving IRSD? Beware of FFA student’s conundrum

Future Farmers of America is an important program in Indian River School District. It produces student leaders and important skills in an agricultural county.

Casting a spell: Clever kids clean up in spelling bee

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: About 27 entrants smile before the competition begins, alongside Southern Sussex Rotarians and other special guests.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: About 27 entrants smile before the competition begins, alongside Southern Sussex Rotarians and other special guests.“Confidence” might be the word of the night, as 27 Indian River School District third-graders competed in the third annual Spelling Bee.

Southern Sussex Rotary hosted the event for southern district students on Nov. 1 at John M. Clayton Elementary.

This year, top prizes went to (first place) Alana Chew of Lord Baltimore Elementary School; (second place) Lauren Myers, Southern Delaware School of the Arts; (third place) Yoselyn Patraca-Carmona, Phillip C. Showell Elementary School; and (fourth place) Catherine Bunting, Lord Baltimore.

Seated on stage, some students swung their feet, not quite reaching the floor, as they watched their peers. Pausing from her duties as moderator, or “pronouncer,” Becky Burton told the audience how the students were encouraging each other.

“They’re up here going, ‘You can do it!’”

Indians fall to Lake Forest in rainy battle

Special to the Coastal Point  photos• Bruce Walls: Indian River field hockey players fight for ball control vs. Lake Forest, before ultimately falling 0-1 on Tuesday, Nov. 7.Special to the Coastal Point photos• Bruce Walls: Indian River field hockey players fight for ball control vs. Lake Forest, before ultimately falling 0-1 on Tuesday, Nov. 7.In a steady rain, 12th-seeded Indian River High School’s girl’s field hockey team faced 5th-seeded Lake Forest on the Spartans astro-turfed football field on Tuesday, Nov. 7, for round one of the DIAA State Tournament.

Under harsh conditions both defenses battled fiercely to keep their opponents from scoring. Then, with just over five minutes remaining in the second half, the Spartan offense scored the game’s only goal, breaking the longstanding tie.

“The girls played well,” said IR Head Coach Jodi Stone. “This is the second time we’ve made the tournament — two consecutive years — so as a young team we have to be proud of our journey. We were at least able to get to the tournament. There’s nothing to be ashamed of and we’re going to keep our heads high.”

Indian River soccer team falls to Laurel in battle for South title

Laurel Star • Mike McClure: Indian River’s Oscar Cruz-Osorio looks to hold back Laurel’s Santos Rodas as he dribbles the ball. Cruz-Osorio had a pair of assists in his team’s 4-2 road loss.Laurel Star • Mike McClure: Indian River’s Oscar Cruz-Osorio looks to hold back Laurel’s Santos Rodas as he dribbles the ball. Cruz-Osorio had a pair of assists in his team’s 4-2 road loss.The stars aligned for the Laurel varsity soccer team last Wednesday night. The Bulldogs’ home matchup against Indian River had been pushed back due to weather, setting up a final divisional showdown with the Indians for all the marbles and the Laurel team didn’t disappoint its fans.

The Bulldogs scored a pair of unanswered goals in the second half to win the game and the Henlopen South with the 4-2 victory.

“I didn’t sleep last night, that’s how nervous I was,” Laurel’s sophomore goalie Jailon Gillespie said. “It feels so good to beat a team you’ve never beaten and to be on top.”

Indian River took advantage of Laurel’s nervousness at the start of the game as Erick Aguilera-Baruch scored on a feed from Oscar Cruz-Osorio for a 1-0 Indian lead with 38:21 left in the first half.

TOTS preschoolers make a musical night

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: Preschoolers are movin’ and groovin’ at a music night at Transitioning Our Toddlers to School (TOTS) in Frankford.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: Preschoolers are movin’ and groovin’ at a music night at Transitioning Our Toddlers to School (TOTS) in Frankford.These preschoolers were ready to boogie. Live music filled the gym this month at Indian River School District’s Transitioning Our Toddlers to School (TOTS) program.

Armed with an acoustic guitar, Nancy Curry of Makin’ Music Delaware led the children in singing and dancing. She will give three TOTS nighttime shows, plus several classroom visits, this school year, made possible by a $2,500 grant from the Freeman Foundation.

TOTS serves kids ages 3 and 4 who have developmental disabilities or delays.

Kids sing throughout the day, such as the clean-up song. But on their music night, they used listening skills to dance and follow motions.

“This was something that I thought was just little bit different. … This was just pure entertainment,” said Loretta Ewell, TOTS coordinator.

IRSD official count tops 10,600 students

Every autumn, Delaware schools take a “snapshot” of the student population. On Sept. 30, Indian River School District officially counted 10,619 students.

“If we keep the same growth pattern, we’re going to eclipse 11,000 in the next five years, probably more like 11,500 to 12,000 students,” Superintendent Mark Steele told the IRSD Board of Education in October.

Therapy in a paintbrush

Carver Academy unveils new murals

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Every fish, shrimp and whale has special meaning and a positive message on this mural painted by students with help from John Donato.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Every fish, shrimp and whale has special meaning and a positive message on this mural painted by students with help from John Donato.For some kids, it was an excuse to leave class. For others, it was a chance to paint past a bad day and inspire others having a tough time.

George Washington Carver Academy unveiled five murals this month that are truly meant to make the school a better place.

“Over the course of the 2016-17 school year, our students worked with local artist John Donato to create murals to display throughout school focusing on their work and positive actions … as well as utilizing art as a medium to represent themselves in a positive way,” said Principal Melissa Kansak.

The Carver Academy is an alternative school in Frankford focusing on individual K-12 students’ academic, behavioral and personal needs in Indian River School District. It’s a transient population as students arrive or transition back to their home schools. About 65 students participated in the murals.

East Millsboro Elementary named National Blue Ribbon School

East Millsboro Elementary School was one of three schools in Delaware and 342 nationwide to be named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2017.

This is the second time that East Millsboro Elementary has received this national honor. It also won the award in 2008. Overall, it is the Indian River School District’s ninth National Blue Ribbon Award since 2001.

A journey in the pages of a book

Selbyville Middle School student wins state essay contest

This summer, a basic picture book inspired sixth-grader Molly Amerling to write about refugee families. Now, she’s the first Sussex Countian to represent Delaware in the “A Book That Shaped Me” essay contest.

Sponsored by the Library of Congress and National Book Festival, the idea behind the contest is simple: fifth- and sixth-graders write about a book that has impacted their life.

IRSD high schools consider cell phones in the classroom

Is there any cell phone service in the science lab? How about the cafeteria?

If most high-schoolers are already carrying what are essentially mini-computers in their pockets each day, then Indian River School District might take advantage of that fact.

Indian River band boosters selling discount cards for 2017-2018

Band cards are back!

For the new school year, Indian River High School Band Boosters have printed a new batch of discount band cards, which are available for $10 each.

People can show their card for discounts at about 35 area businesses, for pizza, fine dining, movies, music, pet shops, flowers, towing, toys, bowling and more. The card is good until Sept. 30, 2018.

IR surprises CR in varsity volleyball, 3-2

Special to the Coastal Point • Bruce Walls: Siera Johnson blocks a shot.Special to the Coastal Point • Bruce Walls: Siera Johnson blocks a shot.A young Indian River High School girls’ volleyball team opened their 2017 season by surprising an older, more experienced Caesar Rodney team, 3-2, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, on their home court in Dagsboro.

IR took the first set 25-19. CR, who had beaten Concord High School the prior Friday night, responded with a 25-21 win in the second set. IR fought back, winning the third set 25-19. CR held on, winning the fourth set 25-18, but IR sealed the win in the final set, 15-13.

Leading the Indians’ charge was freshman Raychel Ehlers, who was 14-4-0-4-0 for the night.

“I’m proud of the way we played tonight,” Ehlers said. “It was our first game of the season, and we came out strong. I knew I did good and hit the ball hard, but it was a team effort.”

Some older residents surprised by new property tax rates

When opening their property tax bills this summer, many local residents expected their taxes to increase because of the March public-school referendum. But the Indian River School District’s successful referendum isn’t the only reason that taxes increased.

IRSD announces more new administrators, fills staff

With the new school year having begun on Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Indian River School District is putting the finishing touches on its administration lineup. Although most of the transition was completed before July, a few new opportunities recently opened up for IR staff. Last-minute changes were made at several schools:

IRHS student crowned Miss Hispanic Delaware

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Ana Calles’ crown holds dozens of glittering rhinestones that represent the beauty, poise, intelligence and quick thinking she displayed at the 2017 Miss Hispanic Delaware pageant.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Ana Calles’ crown holds dozens of glittering rhinestones that represent the beauty, poise, intelligence and quick thinking she displayed at the 2017 Miss Hispanic Delaware pageant.Selbyville is home to a new pageant winner and community leader: 17-year-old Ana Calles was crowned Miss Hispanic Delaware this week.

“It’s still very surreal to me, because it’s just something that I’ve been wanting for a long time, and that it’s actually manifested into reality — it’s very surreal,” Calles said.

She has just begun 11th grade at Indian River High School. As the pageant’s only downstate contestant, Calles said she was happy to stand out geographically, despite the necessity of the two-hour drive to the Baby Grand theater in Wilmington’s Grand Opera House for rehearsals and the competition.

Calles represented Mexico in the Aug. 26 program, which celebrates Hispanic culture and is designed to help young ladies develop poise and communication skills. Calles has lived in Selbyville all her life, except for a few years in Mexico when she was younger.

“I was nervous throughout the whole day, but after our opening-number dance, I felt more confident and comfortable on stage,” she said of her very first pageant.

Calles had dreamed of competing for years, but her family had just suffered the painful impact of losing her mother in April.

“I just wanted to make her proud her proud, overall, even though I know just competing made her proud,” Calles said. “I know she was with me that night. I could feel her.”

IRSD talks budget, school numbers, FFA

With some of its schools completely over their enrollment capacity, the Indian River School District is trying to nail down a system for school choice.

On Aug. 28, for the first time in months, the Board of Education approved a number of school-choice recommendations, after only a few minutes of discussion.

IRSD citizens group debates the issues, reviews new budget

The Indian River School District has found some new eyes to look at the budget, and they’ve got some ideas. The Citizens Budget Oversight Committee convened on Aug. 21 for their first look at the IRSD’s proposed $151 million preliminary budget for the 2018 fiscal year.

Selbyville teen to compete in Miss Hispanic pageant

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: For her pageant platform, Ana Calles encourages people to volunteer for the causes they love.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: For her pageant platform, Ana Calles encourages people to volunteer for the causes they love.Ana Calles doesn’t mind driving two hours to Wilmington every week this summer. Hailing from Selbyville, she’s the only downstate contestant in the Miss Hispanic Delaware pageant.

“Honestly, it’s a big honor, and I feel very fortunate and blessed,” said Calles, 17. “I see how I’m the only one from lower Delaware. I don’t see that as an inconvenience to go all the way up there. I see it was an opportunity or a blessing. I think it’s special because it makes me stand out.”

She will represent Mexico in the Aug. 26 program, which celebrates Hispanic culture and is also designed to help young ladies develop poise and communication skills.

As a rising junior at Indian River High School, Calles said she has wanted to join the pageant for several years now. Calles has lived in Selbyville all her life, except for a few years in Mexico when she was younger.

She has the drive to compete, even hiring Uber rides to Wilmington, until teacher Lori Hudson put an end to that. Then, Hudson personally drove Calles to rehearsals and helped her with program sponsorships.

“She helps me with my schooling and everything. She’s really awesome, to be honest,” Calles said of Hudson. “She definitely goes out of her way, and she’s really there for me — almost in a way a mother would.”

The pageant began in 1972 and is celebrated with the Wilmington Hispanic Festival.

Ahoy, robots!

LB brings bots to the beach

Coastal Point • Laura Walter:  Branden Lathbury, left, and Logan Shoobridge display their Lego VEX robot at the Bethany Beach banCoastal Point • Laura Walter: Branden Lathbury, left, and Logan Shoobridge display their Lego VEX robot at the Bethany Beach banThese kids didn’t mind going to school in summer, as Lord Baltimore Elementary School hosted a robotics summer camp for 10 students in which they designed, built and programed their own robots.

“It was hard, but it was really fun to work with each other,” said rising fifth-grader Jay Lockard.

The 10 children from the upper grades at the school split into three teams, and each team built their own Lego VEX robot. Starting with a box of plastic pieces, they learned team-building, strategizing, construction, programing and some coding.

“I was surprised about how we took all these tiny, tiny pieces and put this together,” said Whitney McMillon, technology teacher.

School board wants consistent rules for school choice

Kevin Patterson’s third-grade daughter has found success in the Indian River School District, and he looked forward to sending his son to kindergarten this fall. But, living outside the district, the boy isn’t guaranteed a spot, and the school has recommended that the school board reject his school choice application.

Dagsboro offer for school resource officer rejected by IRSD

At the monthly town council meeting on July 17, Dagsboro Police Chief Floyd Toomey reported to the council on his presentation to the Indian River School District regarding the role of school resource officer.

Top 10: Local OM team makes a big splash at world finals

It was a worldwide honor for some of Indian River School District’s most creative students recently, as a middle-school team placed in the Top 10 at Odyssey of the Mind World Finals.

IRSD scrutinizing school-choice enrollment procedures

The Indian River School District has been juggling school choice for the past few months. Between space constraints and the now-resolved question of next year’s kindergarten program, school board members have spent more time each month combing through their rules on and goals for school choice.

IRSD sets new property tax rate with 52-cent increase

The Indian River School District this week approved the tax rate for this autumn.

For the 2018 fiscal year, the property tax rate will increase from $2.578 to $3.097 per $100 assessed value (which, in Sussex County, is much less than actual appraised real estate value).

IRSD shakes up school administrators for 2017-2018

As students finished their last few days at school, the Indian River School District has been lining up administrators for the 2017-2018 school year.