No Excuses at elementary school in city

    Students at Northwest Elementary School and Bellmont Middle School were soaking up the college atmosphere as the current school year concluded, and will continue to do so.
    Northwest Elementary has been named one of 102 schools in the country, and only two in the state Indiana, to become a member of the No Excuses University network. The national initiative is designed to promote a comprehensive model of college readiness to all students the moment they begin elementary school "and to create a culture of college readiness" in local classrooms, according to Northwest Principal Becca Lamon.
    Bellmont Middle School is in the process of obtaining Early College University status, said Principal Scott Miller.
    Lamon said each elementary classroom has adopted a college or university, as chosen by their teachers. Students then do research on the schools and contact the institutions. In return, most of the universities have sent T-shirts and other gear and memorabilia from their schools back to the local students, Lamon said.
    Miller said classrooms and hallways have been adorned with pennants and other university logos and colors. He said the goal of "No Excuses" is for teachers and faculty to work together to ensure their students are prepared and inspired to go to college. "This network also allows us to talk with other teachers across the country about their programs, to see how we can get better."
    "We are very excited to be part of the program," said Lamon. North Adams Superintendent Wylie Sirk said the initiative of the local educators "speaks volumes about our faculty, administrators, students and parents."

In other business, the board:
    • Offered its appreciation to fellow member Juan Gutierrez, who wrapped up his four-year term on the board on Tuesday evening. Gutierrez was presented with a plaque in honor of his service from Sirk. Beginning next month, his seat on the board will be filled by Don Elder.
    • Presented a North Star Award to BMS Principal Miller, who recently was named District 3 Principal of the Year by the Indiana Association of School Principals.
    • Authorized school officials to enter into negotiations with Decatur resident Stan Stoppenhagen for the possible sale of a small strip of property near Southeast Elementary School no longer needed by the school.
    • Learned from business manager Larry Carty that work is under way at Bellmont Middle Scool on a $220,000 project to repair building deficiencies. Cusack's Masonry was awarded the contract for the work, which is to be completed before the start of the 2011-12 school year.    Carty also reported that work is to begin this week, weather permitting, on a traffic reconfiguration project at Northwest Elementary. He also noted that a new scoreboard, purchased with funds from an anonymous donor, will be erected soon in center field at the varsity baseball diamond. Steel for the support columns has also been provided by a local industry.
    • Heard a request, for the second time, from Decatur resident Jean Brune that a citizens' advisory committee be formed to investigate enrollment declines at North Adams schools that she said far exceed those at other area school districts.