Posts tagged with Usd 232

De Soto officials: District’s cantaloupe supply is safe

The De Soto school district’s student nutrition department assured parents last week that an active cantaloupe recall did not affect the district.

Cantaloupes infected with listeria are responsible for up to 16 deaths, according to the Associated Press. The cantaloupes are limited to a farm in Colorado that does not supply the district, student nutrition director Amy Droegemeier said in a news release.

The district’s produce vendor, C&C Produce, only purchases cantaloupe from California and Arizona. Droegemeier said the district only purchases whole cantaloupes and thoroughly washes the rinds before cutting them.

“As parents and grandparents, my staff and I feel the same anxiety as everyone else about this issue,” Droegemeier said in the release.

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Unofficial enrollment counts offer few surprises for De Soto USD 232

Unofficial figures have enrollment increasing slightly more than anticipated for De Soto this year.

According to the Sept. 20 headcount, De Soto’s total enrollment will increase to 6,881, up from 6,700 a year ago. Cater said enrollment rose slightly more than projected but that there were no surprises in the data.

All enrollment numbers must first be audited by the state before becoming official.

While the district's overall enrollment increased, of the buildings in De Soto, only De Soto High School saw an increase in enrollment this year, adding 32 students. Starside Elementary and Lexington Trails Middle School's total enrollments decreased by seven and 22 students respectively.

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ACCESS House program grows in second year

ACCESS House student Matt Runde shakes hands with De Soto USD 232 technology worker Aaron Pflughoft at the ACCESS House open house on Wednesday, Sept. 28. Runde, a new student at ACCESS House, was in charge of showing visitors the conference room and explaining what it is used for.

ACCESS House student Matt Runde shakes hands with De Soto USD 232 technology worker Aaron Pflughoft at the ACCESS House open house on Wednesday, Sept. 28. Runde, a new student at ACCESS House, was in charge of showing visitors the conference room and explaining what it is used for. by Laura Herring

De Soto USD 232's ACCESS House program, which teaches students 18-21 life skills for independent living and community integration, is now in its second year and has grown considerably.

"We have 10 students this year, up from seven last year," said district Transition Specialist Belinda De Schrijver. "Ten students doesn't sound like that many but really it's a 30 percent increase and we're somewhat maxed out with the space we have."

Despite the minor space crunch, things are running smoothly at the ACCESS House, especially compared to the chaos of last year.

"Things are hectic with so many students but in a good way," said De Schrijver. "We're settled in our building now and in the community and that's been a huge help."

Each student at ACCESS House has a job in the community to help him or her build life and employment skills. Some of these partners include the De Soto branch of the Johnson County Library, Hillside Village and Midnight Farm in Eudora.

New student Matt Runde sorts books and DVDs at the library once a week.

"I have fun at the library," Runde said. "I get to look at the cool books and movies while I sort them."

Students also operate their own small business, making and selling dog treats. De Schrijver hopes to add another business in the next year or two, funded by the profits of the treat business.

"The dog treat business is doing really well, it's grown so much since last year and we've really retained our client base," she said.

Four students will be aging out of the program this year. Michael Pierce, TyAaron Wilson, Justin Schmitt and Kelly Evans will all be graduating in the spring.

"It will be a sad good-bye but I think we've taught them what they need to know and they'll continue to be supported by their families," said De Schrijver.

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‘Taste Test Tuesdays’ offer De Soto students first bite of new treats

Amy Droegemeier, the De Soto school district's student nutrition director, serves up samples.

Amy Droegemeier, the De Soto school district's student nutrition director, serves up samples. by Stephen Montemayor

Before Amy Droegemeier could serve up samples of potential school lunch additions last week, to Riverview Elementary fifth-graders the De Soto school district’s student nutrition director first had to serve as emcee.

Three new — and, to some, unknown quantities — menu items would be doled out as part of the district’s ongoing Taste Test Tuesday tour, and Droegemeier had to preview the fare.

“Good afternoon, fifth-graders!” she said to the packed cafeteria. “I’m the lady responsible for setting up your lunches. If I hear any boos, you’ll be getting chocolate bugs and oatmeal.”

Riverview Elementary was the second school to play host to Taste Test Tuesday — eventually, Droegemeier said, all 12 district schools would see samples by year’s end.

Today’s samples?

Sweet potato fries. Ooh! Yay!

Egg rolls. Whoa!

Hummus. (Confused chatter).

“If you don’t want to try any of the samples, just say ‘no, thank you,’” Droegemeier said. “But you’re my brave fifth-graders, so I know you’ll give it a shot.”

Droegemeier then proceeded, with several cafeteria workers, to pass out the fries, egg roll slices and hummus with tortilla chip scoops to the students and solicited their reactions on the spot.

As with the first Taste Test subjects last month at Starside Elementary School, it took little time to convert the hummus skeptics.

Droegemeier pointed out Josh Padron, who Droegemeier thought boo’ed the hummus.

“Did you boo?” she asked.

“No! I eww’ed” he said. “I had never tasted it before. But it’s good, it’s good.”

Josh said he said the hummus tasted like a “spicy sauce” with hints of mustard and “different spices.”

Droegemeier then returned with a plastic bucket of sweet potato fries, which too received praise. Josh and the rest of his table flashed thumbs up after a taste.

“I’m in love with the sweet potato fries,” Lucy Graff said.

On her way to unload her tray, Lucy called the sampling “a privilege.”

If mention of samples recalls memories of strolling the aisles at Sam’s Club on the weekends, it’s not an accident.

Droegemeier, in her first year as the district’s student nutrition director, said her two sons, who also attend schools in the district, once asked her why they couldn’t also have samples in their cafeterias. With approaching changes to federal guidelines on what schools must serve for lunch, Droegemeier found a way to introduce some new items that will soon be appearing out of necessity.

Before the lunch period ended — the taste tests continued with each crop of students — Droegemeier put the offerings to a vote. By a show of thumbs, students would show their support for the potential menu additions.

The egg rolls gained near unanimous support. Sweet potato fries saw thumbs raised by nearly three-fourths of cafeteria regulars. When Droegemeier asked how many tried the hummus — which she revealed to be roasted red pepper-flavored and made out of smashed chickpeas — about half of the room raised its thumbs. All thumbs remained up when asked how many of those that tried the dip, liked the dip.

Among the requirements included as part of the new federal guidelines include weekly requirements of dark green and orange vegetables and legumes. The sweet potato fries, which will appear next month on De Soto district menus, go toward fulfilling the orange veggie requirement. Hummus soon may make its way to menus, too, as Droegemeier said the new legume requirement is more challenging.

She said bell peppers, asparagus and black bean burgers were among other considerations that also would be tested. Next up in a few weeks is De Soto High School and then Droegemeier’s off to Prairie Ridge Elementary.

“Let’s see what ends up on the menu,” Droegemeier said before the fifth-graders filed out and the fourth-graders filed in.

By Stephen Montemayor

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De Soto will still discuss swimming, bowling teams

The De Soto school board’s contradictory actions regarding adding high school swimming and bowling teams have both been deemed valid and will be recorded in official minutes, according to board clerk Wendy Denham.

At the board’s Sept. 12 meeting, members voted to table all discussion on the teams until October.

Board members then continued discussion and voted to apply to the Kansas State High School Activities Association for the teams.

Last week, district officials declared that because the board first voted to table the matter, the vote to apply was null and void.

The district later refined its statement, clarifying that both motions were valid but that, when contacted individually, board members agreed to honor the first motion instead of the second.

The district has not applied for swimming and bowling teams at this time, but the board does plan to take up the matter on Oct. 10.

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Update: Board of Education postpones applications for bowling and swimming teams

De Soto school board members thought they approved applying for swimming and bowling teams through the Kansas State High School Activities Association this week, but later learned their vote wasn’t valid.

The district still is exploring the possibility of creating high school bowling teams and a combined De Soto and Mill Valley high schools girls and boys swimming team. However, a rules-of-order misstep meant their first official motion toward doing so — which The Explorer reported earlier this week — won’t stand.

The teams were not on Monday night’s board agenda, but the board took up the issue after a district parent came forward during patron input, asking the board to consider adding bowling to the list of school activities. Board member Randy Johnson made a motion to table all discussion about the teams until October, and the board approved Johnson’s motion.

“I'm uncomfortable moving forward tonight when we don't know the details,” Johnson said. “Five days is just too fast to make a decision like this.”

District activities director Roland Van Wyhe was in the process of looking up application fees when Johnson left the meeting before it was officially adjourned.

When Van Wyhe found the information and reported the fees, remaining board members decided that the application fees were nominal enough that the district should go ahead and apply in order to meet KSHSAA’s Sept. 20 deadline so as not to close the door on the possibility of instating teams this school year.

Because the board previously voted to table all discussion on the matter, the ensuing discussion and vote was null and void.

District staff is still expected to bring more details, including clearer cost estimates and information on potential coaches, to the board’s Oct. 10 meeting.

The applications for the teams have not been submitted to KSHSAA at this time, district communications director Alvie Cater said Friday. The district has, however, spoken with KSHSAA and has been granted permission to apply past the deadline if the board still wishes to do so after its October meeting.

“KSHSAA has given the district the go-ahead to apply late and not suffer any penalties if the board still decides to add the teams this year,” Cater said.

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Driving simulator encourages safe driving habits in DHS students

DHS senior Anna Cline "drives" a test vehicle while wearing goggles that simulate drunken driving during the Arrive Alive safe driving event at De Soto High School on Thursday, Sept. 15. "It seemed pretty real and while I already don't drink and drive or text and drive this really showed me why it's so dangerous," she said.

DHS senior Anna Cline "drives" a test vehicle while wearing goggles that simulate drunken driving during the Arrive Alive safe driving event at De Soto High School on Thursday, Sept. 15. "It seemed pretty real and while I already don't drink and drive or text and drive this really showed me why it's so dangerous," she said. by Laura Herring

Excessive swerving. Driving below the posted speed limit. Driving on the wrong side of the road. Failing to stop at a red light. Hitting a parked vehicle. Driving under the influence of alcohol. Driving while texting.

Students and faculty at De Soto High School received "tickets" for all of these violations this morning after "driving" the Arrive Alive simulator vehicle.

"It seemed pretty real and while I already don't drink and drive or text and drive this really showed me why it's so dangerous," said DHS senior Anna Cline.

The simulator, which will be operating at DHS all day today and all day tomorrow at Mill Valley High School, was paid for by a grant from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and was planned to coincide with homecoming next week.

"The hope is that this exercise will give students a realistic view of what happens when they drive distracted in any way, drinking or texting," said DHS Principal Dave Morford, who drove the simulator himself. "I think everyone should take the opportunity to participate in an exercise like this, not just students but anyone who gets behind the wheel."

While the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration in the state of Kansas is 0.08, or less than one tenth of a percent, Arrive Alive technician Andrew Rogers varies the drivers' BACs anywhere from .077 to 0.1 or more.

"For the most part everyone who gets behind our wheel takes it seriously and tries really hard to obey the law," Rogers said. "I find a lot of people are surprised by how poorly they did or how big the difference between the sober drive and the 'drunk' drive really is."

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Return to Play guidelines accepted by Board of Education

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education approved the presented Return to Play guidelines for all non-concussive injuries during Monday night's meeting.

The protocol outlined in the adopted guidelines is nothing new to the district, said district Director of Facilities Steve Deghand.

"What you have in front of you are the same actions our coaches and trainers and teachers have always taken, we just got together and put them on paper," Deghand told the board.

The guidelines list the specific steps that must be taken when a student suffers an injury or comes forward suffering pain and "err on the side of caution," according to Deghand.

All student incidents are covered under the guidelines, meaning accidents on the playground will be handled just like an injury to a student athlete.

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Board to discuss return to play guidelines

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education will meet at 6 p.m. tonight for their regular monthly meeting at the district administrative building in De Soto.

The main agenda item will be the discussion and potential approval of new guidelines for returning student athletes to the field after an injury other than a concussion. The full agenda, along with supporting documents, may be downloaded from the USD 232 website.

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De Soto district’s Parents as Teachers readying open house

Sleep. Discipline. Toilet.

Those are three common concerns for parents of toddlers — concerns Parents as Teachers educators in the De Soto school district hope to continue helping with.

Once again the district’s Parents as Teachers organization is playing host to an open house from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mize Elementary School, 7301 Mize Road, in an effort to both introduce itself and get fellow parents acquainted.

Coordinator Jamie Fink, who has been with De Soto’s Parents as Teachers for 14 years, said the program serves as parents’ “first taste” of the school district, offering free services for children from prenatal to 3 years old.

The open house, which also boasts a Shawnee fire truck and free ice cream, will allow parents to view the area where the program’s bi-weekly playgroups are located. Parents will also meet the PAT educator assigned to their area — six educators with between four and 14 years experience visit more than 200 families each year, Fink said. Visits usually last about an hour and occur every six to eight weeks.

These visits, Fink said, are the core of the program and are designed to ensure children are on target in the areas of speech, learning and motor skills before they first find their seat in a district classroom.

Other services offered include a resource library, where materials are listed online and checked out at Mize Elementary. And the playgroups — there are both morning and evening times available — often put children in contact with others for the first time.

Fink said educators, many who arrive with bachelor’s or master’s degrees and complete a one-week training program, have helped parents identify speech and vision issues in their children in the 17 years PAT has been in the district.

If a problem is found, Fink said, the program typically refers parents to nearby agencies such as Infant-Toddler Services in Overland Park.

“We help make connections, but we are not the evaluators,” she said.

Fink said there was no cutoff date for parents to enroll, but she did add that first-time parents were given priority if there’s a waiting list.

Educators visit parents from as far away as Olathe and Eudora, Fink said. She said events like Friday’s open house are key to making more parents aware about a resource that often spreads by word of mouth.

“Families tend to hibernate in the summer,” she said. “When they don’t go out or talk to each other, they don’t know about Parents as Teachers.”

By Stephen Montemayor

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