EVANSTON — It was a light agenda for the Uinta County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees at the Jan. 7 regular board meeting. All nine board members were present and presentations from the state champion Evanston High School Drama Devils and from the K-12 computer science team accounted for the bulk of the time.
Drama Devils coach Erin Russell, along with several theater students, thanked the district for its support while showing off the plaque they earned when claiming the state title in Laramie last month. Three-time All-State recipient Amelia Walker performed her award-winning monologue for trustees, followed by a musical number from All-State winner Aidan McGuire and Honorable Mention winner Te’a Cox.
Following the Drama Devils’ presentation, teachers Cynthia Murdock of Evanston Middle School and Brooke George of Aspen Elementary gave a presentation on the work the district is doing to integrate computer science standards into the curriculum following legislation passed last session that officially added computer science to the Wyoming “basket of goods” of required educational components.
Teachers and staff from across the district have created a team to look at and integrate computer science standards into education at all grade levels from kindergarten through high school. Murdock and George explained to trustees that computer science was “not just about sitting at a computer and writing code,” pointing to problem solving, critical thinking and communication skills, among others, that students gain from computer science.
Some of the computer science standards are being incorporated into curriculum at the elementary levels in “ways that have nothing to do with computers.” For example, fifth-grade students have used principles of computer design to create monsters out of cardstock, while first-grade students have used design principles to create mazes. Murdock and George said cybersecurity lessons are even starting in kindergarten.
Computer science at the middle schools is “in limbo” at the moment as educators wait for the state to issue final requirements for students in those grade levels. In the meantime, computer science is part of the industrial technology courses all middle school students take for one quarter each year and is being incorporated into media lessons. Both middle schools will also be piloting a six-week computer science unit beginning later this month.
There are multiple computer science courses offered at EHS, including web page design, programming, design and fabrication, principles of engineering, broadcast production, video production and multiple levels of drafting. One of the goals at the high school is to start moving toward courses that support industry certifications, such as Comp TIA, Microsoft Technology Associate or Cisco certifications.
In other business, trustees approved the board meeting schedule for the 2020-2021 school year, during which meetings will continue to be held on the first Tuesday of each month, with possible additional work sessions when needed and a budget hearing the third Wednesday in July.
The district calendar for the 2020-2021 school year and draft calendar for the 2021-2022 school year were also discussed. Both calendars would continue to follow the model of the past few years, with two full weeks of holiday break in December and early January and spring break in the first full week in April. Of note, Memorial Day in both 2021 and 2022 falls very late in May so the last day of school, and high school graduation, would occur prior to the holiday.
During school reports, many principals and department heads thanked trustees and administration for the holiday bonuses given to all employees last month, including substitutes, noting the bonuses helped morale and meant a great deal to employees.
Evanston Middle School Principal Eric Christenot also thanked everyone with the district who had worked to make it possible for those who wanted to attend the funeral of EMS lead cook Stephanie Morrow to do so. “I don’t know if you understand how great a district we have,” said Christenot. “Stephanie was our lead cook, our lead inspiration, lead laugher, lead everything. Every time you saw Stephanie, she made you a better person. I really appreciate everybody helping out and the subs coming in to help out. We have good people in this community that will bend over backwards to help anyone.”