FEATURE ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 1-10-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer
"Students take on the Internet
AVON -- Whether Avon Avon schools. Schools' Internet Web site is the greatest in cyberspace may be a matter of interpretation, but there is no argument with its educational value, particularly for five students.
Every day, the students, handpicked by Avon teacher Paul Hieronymus, slave over the growing site for an hour each.
Every day they learn a little more. Every day they get a little more confident. And every day, www.avon.k12.oh.us gets one step closer to what Avon wants it to be: a tool for the community of Avon, as well as anyone else who might happen to take a look.
'It's going to take some time, but I see it as a direct communication tool linking parents and students directly with their teachers,' said Superintendent Jim Reitenbach. 'Our primary interest is not a representation to outsiders, but trying to communicate with people in our community.'
The site, which debuted in mid-October, now claims a total of 447 pages. It features the usual greeting from the superintendent, but it also has pages quite different than the typical school Web site: first-graders' art projects on line, a poll, athletic practice schedules and biographies of each school's principal.
|Avon High School students Rob Low, left, Tana Polovich, Scott Wendell, P.J. Niger, and Patrick Henry help run and maintain the Web site (MORNING JOURNAL/DOUGLAS A. KHRENOVSKY)|
The students have done everything from photographing gingerbread houses with a digital camera to creating each page's graphics, and their efforts have paid off.
The team of students knew little about the Internet when Hieronymus recruited them. But after devoting one study hall each day, they now talk about 'HTMLs' and 'hover buttons' like hardened technophiles.
'I definitely enjoy this much more than study hall,' said junior P.J. Niger, 16. 'I've learned a whole lot this year.'
Senior Rob Low, 17, agreed. Based on the fun he's had, Low is now thinking about a career in computer programming.
The students noted with satisfaction the 6,300-and-counting 'hits' the site has had, some from as far away as Estonia and the Philippines.
Other students have found the site to be rewarding and informative. Senior Scott Wendell, 18, sees his calculus classmates log on daily before lunch to check the cafeteria menu, conveniently posted on-line.
Other pages on the site have proven popular, as well. A science teacher was given 'Web site of the Month' honors for using his page most effectively, and he alone has received 139 hits.
Many of them are likely from his freshmen students, who can check out their homework assignments online. Nearly 60 percent of the district's teachers offer the same service.
'It's very exciting to many of the teachers, and they've been very receptive to it,' Hieronymus said. 'We've not seen too many not do anything with it.'
|Paul Hieronymus, Avon Local Schools Web Site Advisor|
As teachers start to dabble, the students are becoming efficient. They are now replacing many of the site's generic graphics with self-created work, adding new quirks every day.
But the students admit they're still learning.
'It seems like something always needs to be fixed,' Wendell said. 'There's so many times when we'll change the entire site by one click -- and then spend two days repairing it.'
Hieronymus is unfazed.
'Of course, they make mistakes, but they work hard,' he said. 'They're very, very motivated. And they're learning something that very few people know how to do.'
Hieronymus plans to slowly add more student workers as the page develops, but 'finishing' the site is not an option, he said.
'I don't think we'll ever be done,' he said. 'It's like how things are going in Avon -- every time we turn around, there's something new going on.'
'We're never going to be finished,' he said. 'There's always something to do. We can always get bigger and better.'
With an informal poll showing nearly 70 percent of Avon's students have computer access at home, the Web site offers educational value beyond the experiences of the students running it, Reitenbach said ..."
See the Avon Local Schools Web Site at: WEB SITE
NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 1-12-00, By SARAH FENSKE, Morning Journal Writer
"Plans made to renovate Avon's schools
AVON -- About $220,000 in renovations are planned for Avon Schools this summer, with most of the work slated for Avon East Elementary.
In addition, improvements are planned for each of Avon's three older buildings: Avon Village, Avon East and Avon Middle School. Each will receive a new clock and bell system, as well as phones and a public address system in each classroom.
The new communication tools are similar to those in the new high school and are designed to increase school safety, said Superintendent Jim Reitenbach.
The rest of the renovation money is slated for eight different projects at the 39-year-old Avon East building.
School officials hope to tackle as many of the projects as finances allow, Reitenbach said. In order of priority, the projects are as follows:
The money for improvements is only one component of the budget for the next year that the Board of Education unanimously approved last night [1-11-00].
Budget projections show that Avon Schools are in good shape, said Treasurer Kathaleen Aufdenkampe.
'The city's tax base is growing enough to cover the fact that the school population is growing,' she said. 'It's nice to be in this position.'
Avon Schools have also been commended by State Auditor Jim Petro for accurate record keeping and solid financial reporting.
The budget's good news points to Avon's successful financial planning, said Mayor Jim Smith.
A big part of Smith's strategy for Avon has included offering tax breaks to industries that opt to relocate to Avon. Such tax abatements are often contingent on creating new jobs. ... 66 percent of city income tax collected goes to the schools ... Many corporations in Avon came because of the abatements, so even with a discount, revenue has grown, [Mayor Smith] said.
'Tax abatement is filling up areas where the property owner was paying nothing to the city and schools,' Smith said. 'You can't lose something you never had.'
As the abatements begin to expire in the next decade, the schools will reap even bigger dividends, Smith said ...
Also at its meeting last night, the school board approved advertising for an architect to design its new elementary school.
With an $8 million bond issue approved by voters in November, the board hopes to choose an architect in the spring ..."
(c) 1999, The Morning Journal