Elk Lake School Board opened its meeting last Wednesday with Superintendent Ken Cuomo asking for a moment of silence for seventh grader Nick Warner who had taken his life the previous Monday.
“Our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to the family as we publicly reflect on such a tragic loss,” Cuomo said.
“This is difficult for all of us,” elementary principal Marc Weisgold said.
High school principal John Warnero added that grief counselors were being provided, and said, “I ask you to look after each other. If you see that a loved one is struggling, know that help is near. I’d like to commend our students for consoling each other during this tough time.”
Board president Donica McGee also took notice of the fact that one of its long-time former members, Alice Carr, had passed away on Jan. 5.
“She was such a good servant to the community,” McGee said. “If everyone did half of what she did, this world would definitely be a better place.”
Wednesday was Board Member Recognition Night, and even though it was a virtual meeting, board members were promised by board secretary Lori Evans that they would receive certificates from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association recognizing their unpaid devotion to the betterment of schools and students and particularly in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the administrator section, special education director Pamela Staats talked about an every 6-year-audit she was now in the midst of completing. She also wanted to lift up the Carr family for giving up such a selfless supporter of the school.
Principal Weisgold noted that for fifth graders, the DARE program started the previous week. He also noted it wasn’t too early to be thinking about kindergarten registration of the next group of little Warriors, which he believed would be March 10-12.
Principal Warnero noted that the term marking period was to end on Jan. 19, and that the fall play had been moved to the spring semester.
High School Vice Principal Peter Kolankowski acknowledged that students Ben Werle and Dan Warholic would be participating in the District PMEA Band Festival being held virtually the weekend following the board meeting.
Most of Kolankowski’s presentation was about health and safety concerns that would take place as a result of state Department of Health guidelines regarding extracurricular activities. A document generated by him, Cuomo, Warnero and athletic director Tony Blaisure is presently 18 pages, and would be appearing on the district’s website.
Elk Lake is currently at 10 percent capacity for audience participation, at such things as basketball games, wrestling matches and swim meets which means that in most cases, fans are super limited to be in the specific venue with their athlete. Discussion was that events would be live-streamed to the school’s auditorium — and probably also in the home — via YouTube when all of the details can be worked out. At present seventh and eighth grade activities would not be live streamed.
Cuomo said that “All decisions have been made with the students in mind,” and because cheerleaders would not be traveling to away games, they would take priority at home games.
Kolankowski said he recognized that for some athletes and fans, the plan under construction “puts us in an awful situation, but I don’t want to have shutdowns again like last spring.”
It was a point echoed by Cuomo, who said, “Our hope is that we’ll have some sense of normalcy. We’ll make mistakes. Our goal is that we give our kids an opportunity to play. We ask the community to be patient and flexible with us and focus on our kids.”
In other activity, the board:
- Approved a change in the school calendar, because of snow make-up dates, with Feb. 10 becoming an early dismissal day, and Feb. 12 being a full day of instruction;
- Approved a list of substitute additions which included Genevieve Farr, Keri Jones, and Robert Squier;
- Approved an Act 1 index of 4 percent which certifies that the school board will not increase any school district tax for the 2021-2022 school year at a rate that exceeds the index as calculated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education;
- Granted permission to bid windows for the junior high school; and
- Gave a read to school policies dealing with discrimination/Title IX sexual harassment affecting students; discipline of student convicted/adjudicated on sexual assault; and dating violence.
In the Susquehanna County Career and Technology board meeting, SCCTC Director Alice Davis also remembered Alice Carr for her unwavering support of technical education.
She also thanked Cabot for its financial support toward helping a lot of the people in the community to have brighter holidays.
Regarding vocational program offerings, she noted a CDL class started Jan. 4 that has eight students; a 40-hour welding program would be starting Jan. 19; and a new practical nursing program would be starting up in July.
Davis also spoke to the fact that of SCCTC’s seven sending schools, Lackawanna Trail, Montrose Area and Mountain View were operating virtually.