Adkins Stadium was filled Friday morning with Jefferson City School district staff representing their schools in staff shirts, cheering and clapping as the high school cheerleaders danced and waved their pom poms to upbeat music.
Calvin the Cavalier and Jasper the Jaybird danced along, and the drum line played in front of a screen that said “Welcome back JC Schools staff!”
JC Schools had its annual all-staff, back-to-school event Friday at Adkins Stadium. It included activities, speakers and performances with the goal of inspiring and pepping up teachers and staff for the new school year, which starts Monday.
The band played the National Anthem, the high school dance teams performed, Superintendent Larry Linthacum slingshotted T-shirts to staff, and the crowd watched a video about district staff working together to overcome obstacles and make a difference.
Then, the staff celebrated as JC Schools sixth-grader Isabel Duren announced student academic achievement has grown despite challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district’s graduation rate for the 2020-21 school year was 86.6 percent — the highest it’s been in the last 18 years and the second highest in the last 30 years. At the event, the staff took a photo spelling out “graduate” on the football field.
Nationwide i-Ready results from the 2020-21 school year show the number of JC Schools students performing at or above grade level in reading and math is higher than the national average.
I-Ready is an adaptive assessment given to students in kindergarten through ninth grade three times a year to evaluate math and reading performance and growth.
Fifty-nine percent of JC Schools students partially or fully met their grade level expectations in reading, compared to 51 percent nationally. Fifty percent of JC Schools students partially or fully met their grade level expectations in math, compared to 46 percent nationally.
In reading, 39 percent of JC Schools students scored fully at their grade level, compared to 32 percent nationally. In math, 30 percent of JC Schools students performed fully at their grade level, compared to 27 percent nationally.
“Our students are learning; our students are growing; our students are achieving success because of you — because of every one of you,” Duren told the staff. “If you would allow me, I would like for you all to promise me one thing for this school year — promise me that when the days feel long, when you’re tired, when you wonder if you’re doing enough, promise that you’ll remember just how important you are to kids like me.”
Duren told the staff they lift students up when they are having a bad day, they inspire them, they carry them through, and they change their lives every day.
“You are our heroes; you are our believers; you are our cheerleaders,” she said. “You hold the keys to our future, and we know that we are in good hands. Thank you so much for caring and believing in the students in our district — the kids like me. Thank you for helping us succeed, for never giving up on us, for inspiring us to be everything that we can be.”
In a speech, Linthacum said JC Schools was one of the largest school districts to have in-seat learning last school year.
“As we know, last year was unlike any year that we’ve had, but you guys showed up, stood strong and rose to the challenge,” he said. “I am so proud to be your superintendent.”
Linthacum thanked the staff for making a difference despite the obstacles they faced.
“When a student graduates that you helped along the way, you are making this world a better place,” he said.
“When a student is inspired to go make a difference, you’re making the world a better place. When you give an encouraging smile or a nod, you’re making this world a better place. When you take the time to help a student with their class schedule or just ask them about their summer, you’re making this world a better place,” he said.
Originally Appeared Here