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Dr. Higgins: School year highlights celebrate partnerships, support, generosity

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Maize Schools Our 2017-18 school year has had some incredible stories of OneMa1ze success, positive growth, and lessons learned. As we reflect on the year as it comes to an end, I would like to shine a light on a few of these stories:

Students pose in front of the RV-12 plane they built at school

Flying Challenge: Throughout the school year, our aviation students at Maize High School and Maize South High School have been working together alongside professional mentors in the community to build an air-worthy, FAA-licensed RV-12 kit plane. Thanks to Airbus, TangoFlight, and WSU Tech, our students have had Students pose with the RV-12 academic and networking experience this year that compare to collegiate-level opportunities. We celebrated this program and its accomplishments Monday during an event at our Maize Career Academy. The plane will take its first flight soon and will be on display at the premiere Oshkosh airshow in July. Please click here to see more photos from the plane's reveal.

A representative from Phillips 66 presents a $35,000 check to Maize USD 266 employees.

Chromebooks: Phillips 66 earlier this month came to our Vermillion Elementary School to present a giant check for $35,000. The funds will purchase Chromebooks and Chromebook carts and help Maize Schools move toward our 1:1 initiative. High school students will be 1:1 next year, with each student having access to a device, with middle school students following in 2019-20.

Students work in a Maize Early Childhood Center classroom on the first day of school.

Bond issue: The $70.7 million bond issue that our community approved during a June 2015 vote is wrapping up. We will open our new transportation facility on 119th Street North for the 2018-19 school year. This school year, though, included the much-awaited and very exciting opening of our new Maize Early Childhood Center and Maize Career Academy. One of the strengths of this bond issue is that it has added improvements to our district for preschool students up to high school students earning college credit and professional certifications. We also have been able to expand a suite to take care of our special needs students. The opportunities in these new spaces are endless for our students of today and tomorrow, and this would not be possible without our community's tremendous support.

Student support: We continue to review ways to better care for our students and their families, both in our school buildings and beyond. We are expanding the number of counseling positions in our schools and have created a new Student Support Specialist position to better support our elementary school students. We see firsthand the increase in social-emotional and mental health needs. We also have created a Student Support Network of caring OneMa1ze community members who have agreed to help meet needs of our families when they arise, something our district can continue to do a better job in a respectful and kind way.

Students dance during a makeup prom at the Maize Career Academy.

Student kindness: I have shared before that the Kansas Department of Education and Maize USD 266 are striving to prepare our students for successful futures academically but also to encourage them to be good people through initiatives including our Maize Way character education program. I could tell you countless stories of moments I have witnessed and heard about this year that paint the picture of the kind and moral young people in our schools. Just last week, for example, a group of high school students and staff members organized and hosted a special prom after a special needs student missed the senior prom due to a medical issue. Organizers wore bow ties and formal gowns to school, secured food donations, and danced to help recreate a moment one of their own would have otherwise missed completely.

It's been a great year, and I thank each of you for your part in it. Enjoy the summer with your child, and I look forward to the continued and new partnerships and opportunities we will have together in 2018-19.

Sincerely,

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
chiggins@usd266.com | @SupHiggins