A strong tradition of excellence
BY: RACHEL WUMKES
The start of a new school year is often a blur. Parents run from store to store gathering the appropriate supplies. We buy backpacks and lunchboxes, and everyone gets a new pair of shoes. The social media sites are flooded with photos of excited children and, quite often, more excited mothers as we embark on another year. It’s time to get back to homework and schedules instead of the lazy days of summer.
For the Clear Lake Community School District, however, it’s business as usual.
You see, they spent many of the summer months preparing for the upcoming year. A trait that shines through as the district continues to excel in academics and activities. This strong tradition of excellence filters down to the students as they learn and grow.
Project Lead the Way (PLTW) has been a shining example of standards in the school district. Clear Creek was recently recognized by PLTW as a Distinguished School for the fourth year in a row. It is one of 492 schools across the nation to receive this honor. Engagement in the elementary years is vital for academic success, and the team at Clear Creek knows it! Studies show that students decide in these formative years if they like math and science. They are able to engage in critical thinking, build teamwork skills, and develop a passion in STEM subjects.
The accolades don’t end there!
The Clear Lake Middle School received national recognition as a Distinguished School as well. One of only 212 middle schools in the country. As these grade levels play such a pivotal role in career success throughout high school and beyond, they’ve added a full-time PLTW teacher in the middle school.
High school students have additional PLTW Computer Science classes (like Robotics), as well as a PLTW engineering class. As the PLTW Biomed program has been a huge hit with high school students, the school district expanded it this year.
Robotics classes cover a realm of subjects. Students can learn about physics, mechanics, problem solving, programming, electronics, and teamwork. With the advancements in technology, these kids have the opportunity to really think outside of the box.
In fact, the Robotics team qualified for the World Championships last year!
Giving our kids the best chance to succeed in life has always been a high priority for the school district. Providing students with real-life experience and hands-on learning opportunities is important. Apprenticeships are already available in welding and general carpentry, with the addition of diesel automotive this year. They will be partnering with Ziegler in Mason City.
With the aging workforce in North Iowa, these apprenticeships are pivotal in getting students right into the action.
The Clear Lake Community School District has always been one to set the bar high. While academics is always the top priority, shaping students into well-rounded individuals before they are set free into the world is important, too. Programs like FFA, speech, drama, band, choir, and Model UN are just a few options. There is literally something for everyone at Clear Lake Schools!
At the start of this year, the Clear Lake Lions came out of the gate strong at all sports. Fall options include football, volleyball and cross country. Opportunities for kids to be involved in a sport is just another way to learn life skills (and have a bit of fun) during these important years of their life.
If you’ve watched mainstream news lately, you may have heard that the teacher shortage is still going strong across the country. The struggle to recruit and retain educators is hitting many districts hard – even in Iowa.
Doug Gee, Superintendent in Clear Lake, is thankful we are not experiencing the shortage here.
“We continue to be able to get teachers who want to come to Clear Lake and teach,” Gee stated. “This is good for us, because a lot of districts in Iowa and in the US still have open teaching positions for this school year.”
And it’s not just the teachers who want to come to Clear Lake. Open enrollment has grown exponentially in the past few years! In 2016, there were 135 open enrollments into Clear Lake. Last year, that number went up to 289 students.
“While the official numbers for this school year are not certified until October 1, it looks like we will either be steady or up some from last fall,” Gee said.
The strong tradition of excellence is evident in the student success at Clear Lake Schools. With technology and progressive thinking at the helm, they are driving into the future at full speed ahead.
I know I’m my children are getting the best of the best each and every day at Clear Lake Schools.