High school students bound for FFA convention in Indiana

Seven St. Louis High School students are heading for the Future Farmers of America national convention in Indianapolis, Ind. Oct. 24-26.

FFA advisor Matt Bernia said Monday that Kacie Allen, Faith Best, Blake D. Fisher, Hailey DeRosia, Cody Hartman, Andrew Zimmermann and Emily Shebester will make the trip along with him in a school district van.

The national FFA convention is a big deal with upwards of 68,000 people attending the event last year.

The cost to students is $150 each, though Allen and Best received $100 from the John Siefka Memorial Scholarship to help cover the cost of their trips.

Convention activities include business workshops, motivational speakers, a Garth Brooks concert, rodeo and a visit to the NCAA Hall of Fame. Attendance at the concert and rodeo is limited to FFA students and chaperones.

Faculty advisor Bernia said this will be his tenth FFA convention, but first as an advisor and chaperone. Advisors will benefit this year from a phone app that monitors the location of all students, alerting advisors if a student leaves the convention center without permission.

Matt Bernia

FFA Faculty Advisor Matt Bernia and student Blake D. Fisher make a presentation to the board.

To see a schedule of events at the convention, follow this link: https://convention.ffa.org/schedule/

The St. Louis FFA chapter has 25 members.

Results of Audit

Derek Miller of Roslund Prestage accounting firm told the school board Monday that the district’s finances are in good order.

The district has about $1.3 million on hand in the form of a “fund balance” or savings account, representing 12.43 percent of expenditures. If money stopped coming in, the district could continue to run for about six weeks, Miller said, which is the “sweet spot” where a responsible school district should be.

School updates

The school board (and this reporter) received reports on activities at the district’s four schools.

Carrie Knause

Principal Stephanie Binder reported good results  from a new “social emotional” teacher program that was approved in June. The district created two social emotional teacher positions, and one of them, Tiffany LaBlance, is stationed at Carrie Knause. “It will be hard to measure the impact of Mrs. LaBlance’s position,” Binder wrote, “but I can tell you she is already making a big one. She meets with students in small groups and even eats lunch daily with students who need another adult role model in their life. It’s been wonderful.”

“The next mountain we have been tackling over here is literacy,” Binder continued. Carrie Knause teachers are busy complying with the 2016 “Read by Grade Three” law and using the Fauntas and Pinnell Guided Reading Material for the first time. “These materials are new to us so we are beginning to figure out how to best use them,” Binder wrote.

Carrie Knause staff are also starting to incorporate “Engage New York” lessons and teaching strategies into the math curriculum. “It’s not an easy undertaking and is very different from the way you or I were taught math, but the consistent message I hear is that it will give our students better numbers sense,” Binder wrote.


“Our staff has spent the last few weeks analyzing testing data to target specific deficit skills for reading with our students,” wrote Principal Eugene Binder. Meetings have been scheduled with parents of students identified as needing student success plans.

Staff and students held their first “superhero of the month” assembly, focusing on the character trait of responsibility. “We had a great turnout, and students were surprised as they did not know their parents were going to be there,” Binder wrote. The next superhero assembly is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 2.

TS Nurnberger

Middle School Principal Shane Brooks reported that “this has been hands down the best start to a school year yet.” Students took a Northwest Evaluation Association test in September to establish baseline data for measuring their growth this year.

Students decorated the cafeteria for spirit week. Decorating was done by grade level, and the eighth grade was the champion with 14 points.

Middle school teachers have begun implementing the “Second Step Program, which is a social emotional learning program that helps students acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions,” Brooks wrote.

The principal reports hearing “really positive feedback” from teachers about the program. He has sat in on one lesson per week, each in a different grade and been “really impressed with the quality of the program, the activities and the incredible discussions that students are having. I feel strongly that by doing this work our students will leave having skills to set goals, work hard and navigate their life challenges.”

High School

Principal Jennifer McKittrick included the latest SAT scores. Proficiency in reading and writing is 59.3 percent (up from 46.6 percent last year). Math proficiency was 30.9 percent (up from 24.7 percent last year). And social studies proficiency was 55.6 percent (up from 43.8 percent last year).

The high school’s anatomy and physiology class will have a blood drive on Oct. 25. Send email to Sandy Dubridge at Sdubridge@stlouisschool.net if you’d like to make a blood donation.

The St. Louis High School marching band took second place at the Alma Marching Band competition recently.

Homecoming week was a success with all events well attended and students reporting a great time, McKittrick wrote. Student royalty included Ignatius Jackson and Elizabeth Munderloh (ninth grade), Avante Taylor and Macie Salladay (tenth grade), Sam Bebow and Allyse March (11th grade), Jacob Brown, Brian Conn, Ryan Downs, Michael Heiden, Cameron Mizer, Liam Morrow, Brooklyn Filipiak, Tara Goodell, Aynslee Koutz, Taryn Mroczek and Allison Taipalus (12th grade).


Athletics Director Scott Hemker reported that girls golf finished second in the TVC West.

Boys and girls varsity cross country won TVC west championships. The middle school cross country team finished first in the conference. Varsity volleyball is current alone in first place in the TVC West.

Shark card sales have topped $3,000.

A new digital, touch screen All-State Athletic display has gone up on the wall outside the high school gym.

Additions and subtractions

The board accepted the resignation of Kaycee Davis (EMN special education Parapro) and the hiring of Facilities Director Robert Avis and EMN Special Education Parapro Ashley Martin.

Robert Avis

Robert Avis


Avis comes with 12 years of experience as director of building services for Cornerstone Christian School, three years as a maintenance technician with Fowlerville Community Schools, and one year as director of maintenance and grounds at Farwell Area Schools. He will learn the district over the next nine months and ultimately replace Ernie Teall, who is retiring at the end of next summer.


Don Kelley, Greg Walterhouse, Carrie Beeson, Carrie Salladay, John Pavlik were present. Kelly Bebow and Jeff Baxter were absent.

Kristi Teall

Superintendent Kristi Teall welcomes Robert Avis to St. Louis schools.


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