Thought Bubble | Panel discusses district culture, achievements

Payton Wurtz | staff writer

Last week, students, community members, several district teachers and one school board member joined reporter Patrick Richardson from the online publication the Sentinel for a roundtable discussion about USD 329’s academic successes.   

Pitsch invited the Sentinel to come to visit our district after the Sentinel noticed that Wabaunsee’s test scores were significantly higher than other surrounding districts, despite a downward trend across the state over the last few years.

According to the Sentinel’s article preceding the discussion, “Most districts, including USD 329 Wabaunsee, saw proficiency levels decline between 2015 and 2017.  The decline continued in 2018 and 2019 for many districts, but Wabaunsee improved.  USD 329 didn’t suffer a decline like most districts on the post-pandemic 2021 state assessment, and 2022 brought more gains.” Richardson asked the members of the roundtable multiple questions to try and figure out what USD 329 is doing differently. The Sentinel also published an article about the discussion this week.

Robert Potter, Kendra Conrad, Payton Wurtz, and Rhett Parry were the high school student members of the round table, which also included a Maple Hill Elementary student. WHS staff Brendan Praeger, Steve Oliver and Lisa Hull, AES teacher Susan Gronquist and MHES teacher Jennifer Mumpower also joined the panel. Karen Wright and Jordan Dunn were representatives of the community, and both parents in the district. Justin Frank joined from the  school board and sheriff Rob Hoskins joined as well.

The discussion touched on several ways that Wabaunsee approaches challenges, and I encourage viewers to watch the discussion for themselves at the USD 329 website.

This conversation was a great experience for teachers, community members, and students to get to discuss our district and come together to bond over the many years of success. 

I felt very honored to be nominated as a speaker for the discussion. It was super encouraging to hear what the community had to say about the performance levels of our district. It’s nice to know that there are people out there that care about more than our athletic abilities and want to prioritize our education.

Although our district has challenges, we have built a great educational community, and that’s something to be proud of.

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