Friday, November 14, 2014

Courier News

Courtesy of the 11-12-14 edition of Ida County Courier.
Click the photo to enlarge it

O-A/BC-IG to present ‘Grease’
O-A/BC-IG High School will present the musical “Grease” this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 14-16 at 7:30 p. m. at the high school. Showtimes are 7:30 p. m. on Nov. 14 and 15, and 2 p. m. on Nov. 16.

Admission prices are $5 for adults and $3 for students. Reserved seating will be available for $6 a ticket. Reserved seating and general admission tickets went on sale on Nov. 1 and tickets can be purchased at the door as available.

For reserved seating or pre-purchased general admission tickets, you may place your order by calling Tasha Tromp at the high school at 364-3371 or Ann Holst at 364-3295 or via email at

O-A board reviews academic reports

The Odebolt-Arthur School Board heard updates on state-required academic reports Monday.

Curriculum Director Alicia Nelson presented the board with information the district is required to submit to the state in regard to student academic achievement and staff development.

The “C” plan covers the district’s instructional plan, while the Iowa Core report involves standards and skills students must achieve and how to measure staff professional development and growth.

The state-required reports also cover district services development, including the areas of special education and talented and gifted and a school improvement plan that lays out a path for how students are assessed, primarily in the area of math, reading and science.

Superintendent Nick Ouellette noted the state is “raising the bar” for student achievement, and students are rising to the challenge. He added there is an expectation to get students at all learning levels to learn and achieve at a higher level than where they are currently.

In his report to the board, Ouellette noted letters were sent to the East Sac County and Schaller-Crestland districts to determine if either of those districts has interest in discussing possible future sharing arrangements. He noted Schaller-Crestland’s board met Monday, Nov. 10. The East Sac board is slated to meet Tuesday, Nov. 18. Ouellette said the O-A board should know in a week or so if either of those districts is interested in meeting with the O-A board.

Ouellette also updated the board on the process used to determine if school will be called off or a late start is required in the event of inclement weather.

Ouellette said Kim Bleckwehl, transportation director, and he go out at 4:30 a. m. to drive bus routes to determine road conditions, with a goal to make a decision on a school closing by 6 a. m. If school is called off or there is a late start, that information is called in to local radio and television stations and is sent out by email and text message.

The superintendent also reported he is looking into a lease program for band instruments to help offset the high cost to buy or rent instruments. “We don’t want to have kids not participating because their parents can’t afford an instrument.”

Ouellette noted the state is considering a plan to rank all public schools in the state based on eight separate categories as a means of making schools accountable. He said, while he favors making schools accountable, he doesn’t think the type of ranking system suggested by the state is the right way to do it.

The superintendent’s report also touched on assessment testing, a legislative priorities update, an update on the bus barn, loading dock and gym heating projects and the possible purchase of a new bus.

In other business

• The fine arts staff presented a curriculum update on what they are teaching elementary through high school students. The board heard from the music and visual arts departments.

• Board members Paul Neumann and Naomi Lozier were appointed as representatives to the district’s negotiations committee. The committee negotiates with the teachers’ association on wages and benefits. Ouellette will serve as the district’s lead negotiator. Kathy Leonard, district business manager, is also part of the committee.

• The board approved the SBRC application in the amount of $24,484. The amount represents money the district wants to recoup for students who open enroll out of the district during the 2014-15 fiscal year and weren’t counted in 2013-14.

• Board members were asked to review the 700 board policy series relating to school business services. The policies will be reviewed and a irst reading held at the December meeting with an eye toward a second reading and possible approval at the January meeting.

• The next board meeting will be the quarterly joint meeting with the BC-IG board on Dec. 8 at 6:30 p. m. in Odebolt.

Happiness Express recognized
Happiness Express: Happiness Express Chorus provides special
music at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Neola. (Photo submitted)

Happiness Express Chorus, based in Denison, was recently recognized by the Barbershop Harmony Society for its 35-year community service program of providing special music for churches during the summer months.

“It’s part of our program of Enriching Lives Through Singing,” said Rod Schneider of Ida Grove, a 30-year member of the chorus. “We set aside one Sunday in June, July and August to sing for as many churches and communities as possible.”

This past summer, the chorus made appearances in Harlan, Jefferson and the Avoca/Neola area. Their schedule included 15 worship services and performances for ive senior living facilities. In the process, the chorus logged a cumulative total of 4,900 miles getting members to the performances and back home.

“We had a very tight schedule for the Avoca/Neola area,” added Schneider. “We set a new chorus record when we completed a three-hour, 75-mile circuit that included appearances at seven worship services in five different communities.”

Members do it for a variety of reasons. Some realize they have been blessed with a singing voice and enjoy sharing it with others in a choral setting. Many speak of the enjoyment they see on the faces of the listeners. Some mention the camaraderie. But, all do it because they know they are making music that’s making a difference.

“It’s easy to tell when our message has touched hearts,” said Jerry Peterman of Denison, who directs the chorus. “I see it on the faces of the singers. I hear it in the hushed ‘Amen’ from a worshiper. I see it in a hastily wiped tear or a silently mouthed ‘thank you’ as we leave the church. And, that is our mission –to touch hearts.”

The Happiness Express is the performing chorus of the Denison Barbershop Harmony Society. Members come from an eight-county area within a 60-mile radius of Denison. They present an annual spring show, as well as help support area high school vocal music programs. This year, they distributed $4,300 to the vocal music departments of 12 area high schools and two vocal music workshop programs.

Now in their 50th year, they welcome men who enjoy singing as a hobby. They meet each Monday at 7:30 p. m. at the Denison High School vocal room, 819 N. 16th St.

Area members include Schneider; Jerry Einspahr, Kevin McFarland and Joe Wadsley of Odebolt; and Dennis Cook and John Haselhoff of Schaller.

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