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Nordonia Hills -- The 1:1 Chromebook initiative, which puts a computer into the hands of each student in the district, is expanding to 2,900 students this school year, up from 1,100 last year.
School starts Aug. 25 and students have been flocking to the schools to pick up their assigned laptop computers, with high schoolers and third- and fourth-graders getting their first Chromebooks this year. The program started last year with students in fifth- through eighth-grade.
Nordonia High School Principal Casey Wright said students have used Chromebooks at the high school before but this will be the first year each student will have their own to work with. He added teachers are excited to put them to use.
"For more than two years now, our teachers have been given professional development on how to best utilize these Chromebooks," Wright said.
Superintendent Dr. Joe Clark said the teachers who used the computers last school year have been very helpful with training the teachers who are just beginning to use them.
"It was really cool to walk around the district, into the classroom and see the entire class working on their computers," Clark said. "The kids responded great to it."
He said while teachers and students are making good use of the laptops, he wants parents to know the computers are not "taking over everything."
"The most important part of the classroom is still the direct instruction from the teachers," Clark said. "Our teachers are trained when is a good time to use them."
Rushwood Elementary Prinicpal Dr. Jacqueline O'Mara said students and teachers are excited about receiving Chromebooks this year.
"Our goal is to develop 21st Century learners and prepare kids for the future," O'Mara said.
She said students in kindergarten through second grade will have a cart containing 30 Chromebooks available at the school.
O'Mara said the school will continue emphasizing positive behavior and will continue to recognize students with Shining Star Awards for acts of being respectful, responsible, and ready to learn. The Student Leadership Team, comprised of third- and fourth-grade students, will continue to work toward serving the community. She said an art show will be held in February, "showcasing the impressive work our students create."
Events and activities are listed on Rushwood Elementary School's web page (located with other school pages off of the district main website www.nordoniaschools.org).
O'Mara said parents are encouraged to "like" the Rushwood Elementary School Facebook page, where information about upcoming events and activities is posted.
Northfield Elementary Principal Staci Albanese echoed O'Mara's thoughts on the Chromebook initiative and positive behavior.
Also returning to Northfield this year is the One School One Book program, in which the entire student body and staff read the same book in roughly three weeks.
The 2015-16 school year was the first year Northfield participated in the program, reading "Kenny and the Dragon," by Tony DiTerlizzi.
Albanese said the program was successful in getting students excited about reading, which is the academic focus of the school.
"Our staff is excited to unveil this year's secret book during our OSOB reveal assembly," Albanese said, noting the reveal assembly will likely happen in the winter.
Albanese also noted parents should mark their calendars for the Sept. 14 Curriculum Night for all students.
Nordonia Middle School Principal Ryan Durr said computers are not replacing reading, writing, and math skills, but should help with other training such as Project Lead the Way, where students can take a new robotics and engineering course in response to the state's requirement to offer career technical education to middle school students.
Durr said the course will be offered to seventh-graders this year and next year will be available to eighth-graders as well. The first course's curriculum is like an introduction to design and basic architecture, Durr said. Students will learn graphic design of 3-Dimensional objects and the school has a 3D printer as well.
Also at the middle school, the Where Everyone Belongs, or WEB program is in full swing with eighth-graders helping seventh-graders to transition into middle school. Durr said the student-led program is important because the incoming students build relationships with the eighth-grade students from the start and have that relationship all year.
To get students prepared for the robotics courses at the middle school, Lee Eaton Elementary Principal Rob Schrembeck said the school has started a "genius lab" which includes lego robotics, Ozobots -- tiny smart robots -- and a green screen studio.
Schrembeck said the lab is designed to "get kids thinking outside the box."
Lee Eaton also welcomes a new associate principal Mike Grift, who previously worked at the high school with special education students.
Schrembeck said one of the things Lee Eaton has tried to overcome since he became principal last school year is a lack of after-school activities. This year students can participate in an after-school art program, The Young Rembrants. The program is offered in nine-week sessions and parents can pay for one session or all three.
Student Council is another activity where students can run for office and plan events such as spirit week, the annual Valentine's Day lollipop sale and the pumpkin patch sale. Project PANDA is the new leadership program which is to serve as a lead-in to Junior Teen Institute at the middle school.
Some dates Lee Eaton parents may want to mark are the Aug. 29 curriculum night for fifth-graders and the Aug. 30 curriculum night for sixth-graders, both of which take place from 6 to 7 p.m.
Seniors at Nordonia High School will be the first class to graduate with the community service requirement, which was implemented when they were freshman.
Wright said each graduate will have completed a minimum of 20 hours of community service, but many students have been taking advantage of the opportunity to add hours for their transcripts and college applications with one student completing so much as 675 hours. He said the high school plans on actively providing programs for students to achieve the requirement, especially geared toward beautifying the community.
Also new this year to the high school, the state of Ohio will fund the ACT test for juniors. Wright said in response to this, the school will be running test programs to help students achieve the highest scores possible.
Ledgeview Elementary School Principal Kristen Cottrell, who served as principal at Campus Elementary School in Streetsboro since 2012, is new to the district this year. She did not return messages for this story.
Clark previously said Cottrell has a strong knowledge of curriculum and instruction, a passion for children, is a strong communicator, with experience, a sense of humor and enthusiasm.
Briana Barker: 330-541-9432