HPS board approves unified bowling program, girls wrestling co-op with AC | news

Hastings High School will gain a new unified bowling program, partner with Adams Central to field a girls wrestling team and add an assistant baseball coach following action Monday by the Hastings Board of Education.

Gathered for its regular March meeting at Hastings Middle School, the board approved a tentative Hastings High School graduation list showing that 270 of 286 students are expected to move their tassels in 2022.

In response to an inquiry made by board President Jim Boeve, Hastings Public Schools Director of Learning Lawrence Tunks said it was still plausible that the remaining 5% of students currently not positioned to graduate may yet be able to reverse their fortunes and attain diplomas.

In other HPS news, the Hastings Middle School Band was chosen to perform at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln on March 22. It was one of eight groups selected from across the state to play at the event.

By an 8-0 vote, the board approved the addition of a unified bowling program at the senior high school intended to facilitate inclusion and promote leadership. An outgrowth of the Special Olympics, the program is composed of co-ed bowling teams with at least one of five members possessing an intellectual disability.

Currently, Nebraska has 30 unified bowling teams competing in Class A and 37 in Class B. Hastings will compete in Class B.

The bowling season will include Saturday tournaments, district and state finals tournaments.

In another unanimous vote, the board approved adding an assistant baseball coach for the senior high team.

David Essink, director of human resources and operations for the district, said an additional coach is needed because of the large number of players out for this year’s team. Having an additional coach will create a safer environment for players when they split up to practice at different locations, he said.

By unanimous vote, the board approved formation of a girls co-op wrestling program in partnership with Adams Central High School. Schneider said the decision to team up was based largely on the low number of HPS students expected to participate in the program. A similar co-op arrangement has worked well for the school’s swim program, he said.

The board unanimously approved the installation of new playground equipment at Morton Early Learning Center. Carrying a price tag of $139,000, the equipment will be similar to equipment currently in use at Crosier Park.

In response to the recently approved federal Financial Literacy Act, the board voted unanimously to approve the addition of five required credits for students graduating in 2024.

Beginning with the current sophomore class, students going forward will need to complete a personal finance class in order to graduate.

With the new requirement, the school’s credit total required will increase from 220 credits to 225.

The board unanimously approved adding a new 14-passenger, wheelchair-accessible bus for district use. Priced at $74,325, the new bus will afford the district increased flexibility in its fleet, said Trent Kelly, HPS director of technology and operations.

During its Spotlight on Learning segment of the meeting, a group of grandparent volunteers was acknowledged for its work with the three kindergarten classes at Hawthorne Elementary School. The AmeriCorps Seniors Senior Action program brings together seniors and students for educational opportunities on campus and is offered at all HPS schools.

In the public hearing portion of the meeting, two parents expressed concerns about proposed changes to the Skills 3 special education class at Watson Elementary School that would move the program off campus in the coming school year.

One point of contention was that this group of special-needs students — students who tend to thrive and depend on consistency — already has endured significant challenges over the past three years, including COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and a teacher change.

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