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Plum school district ready for another year — with a few changes

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | for the Plum Advance Leader
Lisa Rodgers unpacks boxes of materials for her sixth grade class. Teachers at Adlai Stevenson Elementary School are busy getting their classrooms ready for the new year. During construction of the new building, students will be attending the old Pivik Elementary School.
Lillian DeDomenic | for the Plum Advance Leader
Stacks of books line the desks in Gina Herrington's fifth grade classroom. Teachers at Adlai Stevenson Elementary School are busy getting their classrooms ready for the new year. During construction of the new building, students will be attending the old Pivik Elementary School.
Lillian DeDomenic | for the Plum Advance Leader
Unbacking boxes of supplies and materials, Mary Jane Clark prepares her fourth grade classroom. Clark says she feels like she is returning home at Pivik. She began her teaching career there years ago. 'My first classroom was on the same floor, right down the hall,' she said. Teachers at Adlai Stevenson Elementary School are busy getting their classrooms ready for the new year.

Summer's end typically is a busy time for school principals.

Jason Knisely, principal of Adlai Stevenson Elementary in the Plum School District, didn't have much downtime all summer.

Knisely has been directing the move from Adlai Stevenson to the former Pivik building on School Road while construction of the new Holiday Park Elementary gets under way.

“A lot of rooms are ready to go,” Knisely said. “I'm excited about that. (School Road) has been changed to one-way. It is going to be a great transition year. It's the same Adlai with different walls.”

The construction of the new elementary school that is expected to be completed near the end of 2014 is the biggest change occurring in the district. An open house for students and parents was scheduled for tonight.

Knisely hopes to schedule another open house next week.

As construction proceeds, students will see a mix of new staff and new programs in all buildings.

Adlai Stevenson is starting a positive behavior program — “Good Behavior AS@P (Adlai Stevenson at Pivik)”, Knisely said.

The school will have monthly themes focusing on positive behavior. Students weekly will be recognized for good behavior with Knisely making a call home. Assemblies will be held monthly to recognize students.

“We want to get our Adlai family together and recognize our strengths,” Knisely said.

Center Elementary is starting a math incentive program that will recognize students for accomplishing benchmarks at each grade level. Students also will continue to be recognized in the reading incentive program, Superintendent Timothy Glasspool said.

Holiday Park Elementary students will vote on a new daily theme that supports each student's learning effort and achievement, the superintendent said.

Pivik Elementary teachers will be focusing on students making at least one year's progress in reading and math, Glasspool said. A new positive behavior program also is planned.

Regency Park Elementary will kick off its “STEAM” lab that was made possible by a $20,000 grant from both the Benedum and Grable foundations.

In the lab that will focus on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, students will engage in hands-on learning, student-centered learning and working in teams, Principal Justin Stephans said.

At Oblock Junior High, Early American History will replace world geography and an additional 90 Chromebook computers are being used throughout the building.

Principal Joe Fishell also said Oblock has two new special-education teachers. And Brian Stevens moves from special education to the librarian's position.

Stevens replaces the late Susan Pinal who died on May 30 from a pulmonary embolism.

“Susan was an important part (of Oblock Junior High),” Fishell said.

High school Principal Ryan Kociela said a new truancy elimination plan is going into place this fall.

The program is designed to communicate with parents at an earlier stage than in the past when their children are absent.

“We are going to work with parents and students to maximize class time,” Kociela said.

Kociela also said the high school staff will work on plans to improve students' scores on Keystone Exams, SATs and AP tests.

Students also will be permitted to carry resealable drinks in the halls and in classrooms at the discretion of teachers.

“Students are doing a lot of the right things, and it is an added privilege,” Kociela said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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