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Schools in brief
by Tribune Staff
Sep 19, 2011 | 1517 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WCSD named finalist for a national award

RENO ­— Washoe County School District is one of three finalists in the nation for the 2011 Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence, an award that recognizes one school district a year that demonstrates exemplary school board governance and improved student achievement.

In the announcement of the finalists for the CUBE Annual Award, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) said, “Nevada’s Washoe County School District has had an aggressive agenda of change and reform.

Working together, the superintendent, the school board, staff and teachers have made impressive gains in a short amount of time to address the high dropout rate and improve student achievement.”

“It is a tremendous honor to be named a finalist in this program,” WCSD Board of Trustees President Barbara McLaury said. “When the Board of Trustees called for change in 2009, we knew we needed to implement serious reforms immediately to truly impact the lives of our students. It is inspiring to see such strong results in the first two years since we started down this pathway of reform.”

WCSD Superintendent Heath Morrison commented that he is proud of the hard work of educators and the community that led to achievements discussed in the district’s CUBE Annual Award application. “The dedication of our teachers, principals and staff led to the two consecutive years of test score increases and graduation rate improvements. We have implemented ambitious reforms that directly target the needs of our students and we are seeing them perform better and better every day. We are greatly excited to be nominated as a finalist for this top honor in the academic industry.”

The three finalists were selected by an independent judging panel based on materials submitted by the school district, independent follow-up research, and information provided by the district’s state school boards association. The judges selected the finalists based on the following four criteria:

Excellence in school board governance

Building civic capacity

Closing the achievement gap — equity in education

Demonstrated success of academic excellence

WCSD’s application explained the district’s pathway of reform, including the creation of Envision WCSD 2015 — Investing In Our Future, the school district’s strategic plan. Through that reform agenda, WCSD’s graduation rate improved seven percentage points in 2010 from 56 percent to 63 percent. An additional increase is anticipated for the class of 2011 and details are to be released later this week.

The CUBE Award application for WCSD also cited impressive gains on test scores, which show significant evidence of narrowing the achievement gap. Between 2006 and 2010, African-American students improved their third-grade reading scores by 19 percentage points, while Hispanic students improved by 12 percentage points. These two groups also posted 20-plus percentage point gains in third-grade math, as did limited English and low-income students. Fifth- and eighth-graders made similar gains.

Massachusetts’ Boston Public Schools and Texas’ Mesquite Independent School District are the other two urban school districts that were named finalists for CUBE’s top honor. The winner of the 2011 CUBE Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence will be presented on Oct. 8 during the CUBE Annual Conference in New Orleans.

“The CUBE Award finalists are proof that diverse urban school districts can succeed, even during difficult economic times,” said Anne L. Bryant, executive director of NSBA. “All three of the finalists have made extraordinary efforts to reach students and increase student achievement.”

For more information on the award and CUBE, please visit

NAS member Catherine Fowler presents at UNR

RENO — Catherine (Kay) Fowler, University of Nevada, Reno foundation professor of anthropology emerita, is nationally recognized for the work she did during her 40 years of teaching and research at the University’s College of Liberal Arts. Her work helped to preserve the indigenous languages, culture, land and heritage of the Great Basin’s Native people. Fowler will be honored and reflect on her work at a free presentation open to the public at the Wells Fargo Auditorium on the First Floor of the University’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center at 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

Fowler will be joined by special guests Dr. Thomas Schwenk, vice president of the University of Nevada, Reno Division of Health Sciences and dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine; and Maurice Fuerstenau, University of Nevada, Reno professor emeritus of metallurgy. The three — Fowler, Schwenk and Fuerstenau — share a special bond. Each of them has been selected for membership into one of the three national academies, one of the highest honors a scientist, researcher or scholar can receive. 

Fuerstenau was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1991, and Schwenk was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2002. Fowler completed the trifecta for Nevada when she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences this year, joining an elite group of about 2,100 scholars, almost 200 of them also Nobel Prize winners. Since the national academy’s founding in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s leaders have turned to the National Academy of Sciences and its two sister organizations for advice on the most important scientific and technological issues of the day. 

Fowler was also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year.

VFW announces scholarship


SPARKS — The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Ladies Auxiliary announce that the theme for the 2011–2012 $10,000 Patriot’s Pen National Contest is, “Are You Proud of Your Country?” The program is open to all students from grades 6-8 and it consists of an essay between 300-400 words.

There is also a program that involves high school students. The Voice of Democracy awards a $30,000 national scholarship. This year’s theme is “Is there Pride in Serving in our Military?” The competition consists of a 3-5 minute speech.

All public, private and parochial students are encouraged to participate. Entries are to be submitted to the local post by Nov. 1. District Winners will be invited to attend a mid-winter conference and the winners at this level will win a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete at the national level.

The VFW and Ladies Auxiliary are a group of men and women who “Honor the dead by supporting the living.”

TMCC’s journal receives gold circle award for excellence

RENO — Truckee Meadows Community College’s (TMCC) distinguished literary and art journal, the Meadow, recently received the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s gold circle award for excellence for its 2011 issue. The gold circle awards recognize exceptional work created by student journalists working with media that is published in schools or colleges throughout the United States and overseas.  Awards will be presented in New York City at the Association’s annual convention held each March.

“Receiving this award is quite an honor and illustrates the immense amount of talent that our students possess,” said Dr. Maria Sheehan, president of TMCC. “Each year I am amazed with the creativity and imagination behind each work of art. The incredible caliber of students that we have at TMCC is evident through the constant recognition they receive on behalf of the college.”

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association began the gold circle awards in 1984 to serve student journalists and set the standard for expectation and success. The competition to acquire the award can be seen in previous years; more than 13,000 entries were submitted and only 1,000 awards were given.

The Meadow is published each spring and accepts poetry, fiction, artwork, graphic design work and other literary and artistic pieces. The publication welcomes a variety of work from beginning and experienced writers and artists making it a diverse collection of talent. Students that are passionate about literary arts, graphic design and creative writing are encouraged to participate on the editorial board for class credit. By enrolling in ‘ENG 299 Literary Journal’ students will become members of the board and learn about the operation, editing, production and printing of a literary journal. For more information or to participate on the editorial board, visit

Cooperative Extension

gardening series starts Tuesday

RENO — Nevada’s rugged climate can present problems for even the most experienced gardeners.

To help Nevadans manage the elements, the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and certified master gardeners throughout Nevada are hosting “Grow Your Own! A Back-to-Basics Guide to Great Harvests in Nevada.” Grow Your Own! sessions are offered from 6-8 p.m. every Tuesday starting this week and running through Nov. 8. The classes will be held at the Cooperative Extension offices at 4955 Energy Way in Reno and will be transmitted live via interactive video to other locations.

For more information, contact Ashley Andrews at 775-336-0231 or email
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Schools in brief by Tribune Staff

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