NORTH CRAWFORD - North Crawford’s Agricultural Education program is off to a great start. Agricultural education teacher Mackenzie Knutson was hired for the 2019-20 school year as the first ag teacher at the district in many years.
Two of Knutson’s classes, plant science and animal science, have been so popular that students have had to be turned away, according to North Crawford District Administrator Brandon Munson.
At their regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 19, the North Crawford School Board voted to increase Knutson’s position from part-time to full-time, and to approve summer hours for her as well. This will allow the ag teacher to oversee the school garden, work on a possible prairie restoration project on school grounds, oversee the FFA participation at the county fair–as well as offer expanded course offerings in the 2020-21 school year.
“Mackenzie has done a great job in generating interest in agricultural education,” Munson said. “She has good ideas and has gotten kids excited about agriculture.”
Knutson’s agricultural education classes will count as a science credit, under the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction ‘Crosswalk’ program. This will allow high school science teacher Linda Dworschack to offer physics to the district’s students, since she will no longer need to teach physical and natural science.On Friday, Feb. 21, Knutson also worked with the district’s FFA Club members to offer FFA-themed games to middle school and high school students during the last period of the day. Games included wheelbarrow races, turkey bowling, apple stacking, tractor tire tossing, a mini-tractor pull, and more.
Perhaps the highlight of the day was when high school chemistry teacher Luke Zitzner kissed a pig in front of the students. Zitzner, one of four teachers that volunteered, was selected by a system of allowing students to place pennies in jars in the office. The teacher who got the most pennies had to kiss the pig. The FFA Club was able to raise $82.13 through this activity. They had also held a pancake supper the night before at which they had raised $900.
National FFA Week is celebrated February 22-29. According to Middle School/High School Principal Toby Tripalin, North Crawford observed National FFA Week with a variety of activities, including FFA-themed dress up days.
As part of approving the district’s 2020-21 course handbook, the board also approved moving back to three full-time teachers in math – two in the high school and one in the middle school. Responding to an internal posting, Robert Sailer has applied for a high school math position, which leaves an opening in middle school math.
High School social studies teacher Joe Ferrito will offer an AP history class. Every other year, he will offer European History or World History.
Food in the news
North Crawford Middle School/High School Principal Toby Tripalin reported that he, Mrs. Dworschack and students from National Honor Society, had met with some representatives of Second Harvest to take a look at the idea of expanding the school’s backpack program, and possibly establishing a food bank at school which could service some of the district’s neediest families.
“This is an exciting undertaking which could provide a food source for some of our food insecure families,” Tripalin said. “We had thought-provoking discussions that generated lots of good ideas, and have also received donations from the People’s State Bank.”
“We are also excited to announce that we have received a grant from No Hungry Kid for $3,115 to purchase a Grab N’ Go Cart. The grant is designed to increase participation and feed more students,” Munson said. “The cart will be a secondary option for breakfast, nutrition break and lunch, and will be stocked with all the components of a full meal, including fresh fruits, veggies, and milk. Students will now have the choice to purchase a Grab N’ Go meal from the cart or as usual in the cafeteria.”
Munson explained that student’s free, reduced or full-pay benefits remain the same no matter where they choose to eat. He said that students would enter their pin numbers on the computer that is on the cart. Students may only eat in one location, not both, for breakfast or lunch.
“This simply gives students additional healthy options,” Munson said. “We are very excited about this opportunity!”
Munson also reported that in December, the kitchen entered the Wisconsin School Breakfast Challenge. This is a statewide contest with schools similar in size to increase breakfast participation.
“I am delighted to report that our breakfast participation numbers are way up. We are averaging 40-50 percent breakfast participation,” Munson said. “This up from the 30-40 percent average from the 2018-2019 school year. With the addition of the Grab N’ Go Cart, we hope to increase these numbers even more. The contest ends March 6.”
Lastly, Munson reported that the district has received several donations to help families pay for their negative foodservice balances. In January, they received $250 from Compeer Financial in Viroqua, and in February they received $2,500 from National Christian Foundation. Additionally, they received an anonymous gift of $500. The board moved to approve these donations.
The board approved a WIAA Ridge & Valley Conference recommended increase in pay for officals for conference games and non-conference games.
“The district doesn’t really have a lot of control over the WIAA’s decision,” Munson said. “There is already a shortage of game officials, and if we pay less than other districts, that will put us at a disadvantage.”
The board also approved coaches for the spring sports as follows:
• Softball: Torrey Kramer as head coach, and Jim Chellevold as assistant coach
• Baseball: Ben Kandler as head coach, and an assistant coach TBD
• High School Track: Jesse Swenson as head coach with Liz Bransky and Brian Steyer as assistant coaches, and another assistant coach TBD
• Middle School Track: Canisius Johnson, and another coach TBD
In other business, the board:
• heard public input from parent Kevin Nelson about problems his daughter had experienced while participating in cheerleading
• heard that North Crawford Elementary School Principal Amanda Killeen is on maternity leave
• heard that 18 families had participated in pre-school screening
• heard that work on the school’s septic system is scheduled for March 10-11, during spring break
• heard that the district had hosted the bus drivers to breakfast in the cafeteria in honor of National School Bus Driver’s Week
• heard that teachers had come up with lots of innovative ways to display excellent student work in high traffic areas in the building
• accepted the resignation of teacher Dave Bergum, and posted to fill his position
• approved the 2020-21 school calendar, with September 1 as the first day of school, June 2 as the last day of school, and graduation on May 29• approved a donation to Crawford County Extension of $75 to support a program teaching financial sense to young elementary students