Sunrise Mountain’s Graduation Rate Surges Past Expectations

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For some schools, cold temperatures signal the time to present their student academic progress data to parents, staff and community members. During Sunrise Mountain High School’s presentation, its staff could barely restrain their excitement when they reported a 91 percent graduation rate for the Class of 2017.

“That graduation rate was four years in the making,” explained Principal Julia Llapur. “The Class of 2017 were freshmen during the school’s first year in the Turnaround Zone.”

It was in 2013-14 that Sunrise Mountain entered Clark County School District’s Turnaround Zone – a designation that brings additional resources and opportunities for improved student achievement, such as professional development, collaborative planning, and targeted and specialized support.

Since then, Sunrise Mountain High School’s graduation rate steadily increased. And when it exited the Turnaround Zone in 2016, Sunrise Mountain posted a graduation rate of 75.75 percent.

The following year, the high school staff set a goal to attain an 80 percent graduation rate.

After a year out of the Turnaround Zone, Sunrise Mountain High School reported to its School Organizational Team and parent groups a 91 percent graduation rate, exceeding its goal by 11 percent.

She said each student’s progress was tracked since day one – a strategy used for all students who enter Sunrise Mountain High School – with the help of Clark County School District’s data visualization tool.

While the data played a big role in the high school’s rising graduation rate, Llapur is grateful to have staff who “believe in these students and feel that they deserve the best” to see the task through.

“We used the data to know what we have and where we were, so we could build on that and continue to improve,” said Llapur. “We made huge gains in the last five years, but we will not stop looking inward for more opportunities for improvement.”

Nominations Accepted for the 2017-18 LifeChanger of the Year Awards

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Nominations are being accepted for the LifeChanger of the Year 2017-18 awards program, which will honor an outstanding teacher or school employee. To be considered for LifeChanger of the Year, one must demonstrate:

A proven ability to make a beneficial difference in the lives of students
The ability to positively add to the development of the school’s atmosphere
Leadership within his/her school and/or district
A record of excellent performance at the professional level
Commitment to producing a nurturing atmosphere
Adherence to high moral and ethical standards

For more information, click here.

Lawrence JHS to Hold Best Buddies Annual Friendship Walk Nov. 4

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The Lawrence Junior High School Best Buddies Annual Friendship Walk will be held on Tuesday, November 14, from 3:20 to 4:15 p.m. on the soccer field of the LJHS campus. The purpose of the walk is to promote friendship, inclusion and respect on the school campus and in the community, while raising awareness to support individuals with intellectual and developmental challenges. For more information, call (702) 799-2540.

Basic High School Marine Corps JROTC to Participate in Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 4

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The Basic High School Marine Corps JROTC will be among the participants in Henderson’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony, which starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4 at the Henderson Events Plaza Amphitheater, located at 200 S. Water St. Brig. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt from Nellis Air Force Base will deliver the keynote address and the Henderson Symphony Orchestra will perform a special musical tribute to the armed forces. The Basic High School Marine Corps JROTC will conduct the presentation of colors and read the names of the four local veterans who will be added to the Memorial Wall.

Message from CCSD Regarding Fingerprinting of Volunteers

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A new state law is now in effect requiring adults who volunteer at our schools or during school activities to be fingerprinted.

Senate Bill 287 requires all volunteers with unsupervised OR regular contact with students to be fingerprinted. Regular contact is defined as volunteering at least four times a month.

For those volunteers who have unsupervised contact with students or who regularly volunteer, an application process has been put into place district-wide.

This process includes completing the online application at, processing payment to complete a background check including fingerprinting, acknowledgment as being a mandatory child abuse reporter, and being issued a CCSD volunteer badge.

We understand that some parents and volunteers may have concerns with this process. You can express your opinion at CCSD is implementing this process in order to comply with the new state law.

We encourage parents to continue to be engaged in their child’s education.

If you have any additional questions, contact your child’s school directly. We thank you for your patience and cooperation.

Boulder City High School’s Marching Band and Color Guard Excel at Super Show Competition

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According to the Boulder City Review, “Boulder City High School’s marching band and color guard came home with a handful of first-place awards after competing in the Western Band Association’s UNLV Super Show at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday (Nov. 4).” BCHS competed against Bonanza, Mojave, Virgin Valley and Bishop Gorman High Schools, and will take part in additional competitions Nov. 4 and 11.

Teacher Celebrates 42 Years of Educating Special Needs Students at Helen J. Stewart

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After 42 years of teaching at Helen J. Stewart School, Ritha Burroughs remains as enthused about her job as the day she started.

Stewart is a special school that focuses on a functional curriculum for students with special needs. Its students range in age from six to 22.

Burroughs, a Detroit native who joined the teaching staff in 1976, takes great delight in her students’ accomplishments, whether big or small. “I teach students how to tie their shoes, recognize their names, act appropriately in public and many more things. We cover it all,” explained Burroughs. “The other day, one of my students successfully used a broom and dustpan, and it made my day.”

A nationally board certified teacher, Burroughs presently works with middle school students but has taught students of all ages at Stewart. “I feel I’m making a difference, helping the students become more independent and making the parents’ lives easier. Our mission is to prepare these students for life.”

Burroughs and her colleagues are helping to shape behaviors and skills. The best thing, said Burroughs, is helping students accomplish something and gain self-confidence. “I’m always trying to come up with new ways of addressing their needs and helping them reach their goals.”

Burroughs’ love of teaching extends beyond the walls of her school. She also works with adults, teaching them English and how to read. “Many of my adult students are from other countries. Helping them is very rewarding.”

Principal Dr. Patti Schultz has nothing but praise for Burroughs. “She is an exceptional teacher who works closely with transition agencies, offers district-wide training on functional curriculum and works closely with families to help them access wraparound services. We are proud to have her on our staff.”

So, how does someone stay at the same school for 42 years? “This school provides me with everything I need to teach students and also assist their parents. I’m so happy here, which is why I have stayed all these years.”

Nonetheless, everything comes to an end, and Burroughs expects to retire at the end of this school year. “I say that every year, but it’s probably going to happen this time.” She plans to spend her retirement doing a lot of traveling. Burroughs has already been to such far-off places as Cuba, the Gobi Desert and the Amazon River.

Regardless of where her future travels take her, Stewart School will always have a special place in Burrough’s heart. “I love my job and feel blessed to be here.”

Betsy Rhodes Elementary School Teacher Brings the Farm to the City

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Las Vegas is known for many things, but it’s fair to say that farming is not one of them. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped Betsy Rhodes Elementary School pre-K teacher Lori Hansen from helping students get a hands-on education about farming.

Hansen is coordinator for the school’s Roadrunners 4-H Club, which partners with the school but accepts members from throughout CCSD. The club was established in 2001 and currently has about 25 active members from several CCSD schools.

A highlight of the club is its market animal project, in which students raise pigs, chickens, goats and sheep, culminating with the sale of the livestock at the Clark County Fair and Rodeo, held every April in Logandale.

As explained by Hansen, “The students care for their animals, from feeding to grooming and everything in between. They feed their animals every morning and every afternoon.” Most of the proceeds from the sale of the animals at the fair go toward the students’ college funds.

A 24-year CCSD veteran, Hansen spends up to 10 hours a week volunteering for the Roadrunners Club, which has other projects in addition to market animals. “The students also show rabbits, chickens and goats at the fair, and these animals are usually their pets. We also have outdoor cooking, sports shooting, archery, baking and cake decorating. And we’re starting a photography project.”

Most of the students taking part in the market animals project had no previous experience with livestock. “This is a huge responsibility for these students,” explained Hansen. “They make a commitment to their animals and I’m very proud of their hard work and determination.” She added that many of the Roadrunners are leaning toward careers in agriculture or veterinary science.