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Free State High permaculture garden, 7th grade sports on school board agenda

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The Lawrence school board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 23, at 110 McDonald Drive. Masks are required due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key points — the board will:

Consider approval of the construction of an accessible permaculture garden at Free State High School.

↪ Context: Permaculture is a sustainable method of agriculture “that listens to the land instead of imposing on it,” according to the proposal in the agenda packet submitted by Hannah Au Yeong, Iris Dunn, Bryn Perrins, Maya Sabatini, Chloe Stafre and Ethan Wood.

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In 2020, students at FSHS created the proposal. Evergy has agreed to donate telephone polls to provide the lumber for the garden beds, benches, tables and gazebo. Features of the garden include outdoor classroom space; food production for school use and donation; cultivation of culinary herbs, dye plants, and native medicinals and edibles; shade pollinator and rain gardens; monarch butterfly waystation; and a food forest that would grow throughout the year.

The proposal says FSHS students will build tables and benches, and Evergy will also supply native trees and plants. An overview of the garden is shown below.

Copy-of-Updated-garden-plan-6_2_21

Consider adding volleyball and football to 7th grade sports at the four district middle schools.

↪ Context: Facing budget cuts, the school board removed 7th grade basketball and volleyball in the 2002-2003 school year. With a goal of adding 7th grade sports back to the middle schools, the board voted at its June 10, 2019, meeting to reinstate 7th grade basketball for girls and boys and add cross-country for 7th and 8th graders in the 2019-2020 school year.

When the district made plans this school year to add 7th grade football to middle school sports, Southwest Middle School teacher and coach Kristin Mallory lobbied district administrators to also extend volleyball opportunities to 7th grade girls. She met with district officials to make her case.

In a post to her followers on Twitter on Wednesday, Mallory said, “I am thrilled that (the district) made the decision to move forward with the addition of 7th grade (volleyball) for this year. I believe strongly that many individuals/administrators worked hard to make this happen and I am thankful for their vision and commitment to our students. #girlpower”

If interest and participation follows, the football and volleyball programs would incur no additional cost by using existing allocations. 

The permaculture garden and 7th grade sports proposals are part of the meeting’s consent agenda. Items on consent agenda are considered altogether unless a board member or the superintendent requests that an item be removed and voted on separately.

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Hear a report on instructional methods the district is using to meet strategic initiatives related to student-centered learning.

↪ Context: In the district’s strategic plan, student-centered learning focuses on meeting students’ unique academic, social, emotional and behavioral needs while decreasing barriers to college and career readiness from preschool through high school graduation.

To deliver instruction, the district uses the Comprehensive Integrated Three-Tiered Model of Prevention — or Ci3T — a familiar acronym but somewhat nebulous concept to district parents and guardians. Higher tiers require more intensive support. Most instruction and support for students — about 80% — takes place in Tier 1, where the goal is to meet academic, social-emotional and behavioral needs in the classroom or schoolwide settings. Tier 2 involves about 15% of instructional support for groups of students at risk. And Tier 3 is geared toward the highest level of individual students at risk and involves only 5% of instructional support.

Leah Wisdom, director of instruction and professional development, will provide the update, which will also include information on professional development. Presentation slides can be found here


The meeting also includes  an executive session (meaning it’s closed to the public) near the end of the agenda for 20 minutes to discuss negotiations for a fair and equitable contract. No action, or vote, is expected to follow.


Find the full board meeting agenda and related documents here.

Watch the live board meeting via livestream here or tune in to Midco Channel 26 at 6 p.m. Monday. To sign up to share public comments in person or via WebEx, email publiccomment@usd497.org before 6 p.m. Monday. Patrons will receive a link to join the videoconference by phone or video conferencing.

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Social worker, coach weaves life experiences into empowerment lessons for Lawrence youth

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Audrey Trowbridge sits in her basement surrounded by glitter, wood, paint cans and her favorite crafting supply of all time — pipe cleaners. Her craft room serves as a retreat, and during remote learning, the Free State High School social worker took her video conference calls there.
Behind her, a painting of a glowing Black woman wearing a bejeweled crown draws attention. When asked if she painted it, Trowbridge says one of her sisters gifted the piece to her. Its placement is purposeful. She wants others to see it in the background, but she also hopes to glean inspiration from it when she glances at herself on screen. The powerful art serves as a self-affirmation and a reminder while advocating for herself and her students.

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