High school musicals keep getting better: Here’s why

High schools across the county are presenting their spring musicals in the weeks ahead, and if you haven’t been to a high school show in a while, you might just be amazed. Shows like “Shrek,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “West Side Story,” “Phantom,” “The Wizard of Oz” and three productions of “Mary Poppins” — complete with flying — will trod the boards between now and the end of April The shows will feature talented actors and singers, beautiful sets, great lighting, strong music and special effects that wouldn’t have been imaginable 15 or 20 years ago. Technology, changing attitudes about the importance of the arts and the immediate information age we all live in have upped everybody’s game. Gone are the days of the plywood painted set, the bad lighting, wooden performances from the guys on the football team and the clunky dance numbers. Today’s high school theater is more professional, more engaging and more committed than ever. “There is no such thing as a good high school show,” says Alan Mudrick, who’s been teaching music at Hempfield High School for 30 years. “It’s either a good show or it isn’t. We instill that in our students: It’s a good show, period.” “You’ve got to keep pushing them,” says Kevin Ditzler, who’s been directing at Lampeter-Strasburg High School for eight years. “It’s almost a disservice if you just settle. You push as hard as you can.” Big expectations can yield strong shows. “When I was in high school, we showed up at rehearsal and were told where to stand and what to do,” says Irving Gonzalez, who’s been directing at Ephrata High School for the past seven years. “At Ephrata, we want them to have real hands-on experience, to open dialogue so they can be part of the creative process. All of them have a voice. That’s the Continue Reading

Playoffs schedule set for SC high school basketball

BOYS Class 5A Wednesday Upper State Boiling Springs at Westside Northwestern at Riverside JL Mann at Dorman Greenwood at Fort Mill Hillcrest at Nation Ford Easley at Gaffney Clover at Wade Hampton Byrnes at TL Hanna Lower State Fort Dorchester at Blythewood Socastee at Ashley Ridge River Bluff at Conway Dutch Fork at Summerville Goose Creek at Sumter Wando at Irmo Lexington at West Ashley West Florence at Spring Valley Class 4A Wednesday Upper State Union County at Greenville North Augusta at Westwood Belton Honea-Path at Travelers Rest York at South Aiken Midland Valley at Ridge View Eastside at Daniel South Pointe at Aiken Wren at Greer Lower State Lugoff-Elgin at A.C. Flora Stall at Myrtle Beach Dreher at Lakewood North Myrtle Beach at Colleton County Hilton Head Island at Wilson Darlington at Orangeburg-Wilkinson Marlboro County at Berkeley Lower Richland at Hartsville Class 3A Tuesday Upper State West-Oak at Newberry (Monday) Palmetto at Chester Broome at Walhalla Indian Land at Berea Carolina Academy at Camden Seneca/Pendleton at Clinton Columbia at Southside Chapman at Seneca/Pendleton Lower State Georgetown at Swansea Hanahan at Wade Hampton Brookland-Cayce at Loris Bluffton at Manning Lake Marion at Ridgeland-Hardeeville Dillon at Strom Thurmond May River at Bishop England Edisto at Lake City Class 2A Tuesday Upper State Liberty at Landrum Cheraw at Keenan Blacksburg at Greenville Tech Saluda at Central North Central at Gray Collegiate Southside Christian at St. Joseph Eau Claire at Lee Central Christ Church at Abbeville Lower State Mullins at Calhoun County Andrews at Burke Bamberg-Ehrhardt at Carvers Bay Batesburg-Leesville at Academic Magnet Buford at North Charleston Barnwell at Kingstree Woodland at Silver Bluff Garrett at Marion Class A Tuesday Upper State Will be updated later Saturday Lower State St. John’s at East Clarendon Military Magnet at Hannah-Pamplico Charleston M&S at Cross Creek Bridge at Continue Reading

Toms River school board faces backlash over Superintendent Healy’s new contract

TOMS RIVER – The Board of Education’s decision this week to award a new contract to Superintendent David M. Healy unleashed a torrent of public animosity from faculty and parents over how he has administered the state’s fifth-largest school district since he assumed office in 2014.However, Healy, 56, of Middletown, will now continue to serve in that role until at least 2022. The five-year agreement was approved late Tuesday night in a contentious 6-1 vote on the nine-member school board in which there were two abstentions.The board’s action was viewed as controversial for several reasons. First, the vote came two weeks after Election Day, when voters elected three new school board members. There were many in attendance who felt the new contract should not have been approved in lame duck session. Moreover, the terms of the contract were only made public over the weekend. The customary 30-day period the public would ordinarily be given to examine the agreement for themselves and speak out at a scheduled public hearing was also waived.Second, teachers are furious that the board took more than a year to award their union a new contract before it did several months ago, but was willing to accommodate and expedite Healy’s request for his own; more than 18 months before his previous contract was set to expire.Finally, the contract was negotiated at a time when Healy was the subject of an investigation into allegations he sexually harassed a district guidance counselor. When details about that complaint were made public, the board launched another investigation to find the whistleblowers, which some have seen as a surreptitious effort to stamp out political opposition within the district.All of those issues boiled over at Tuesday’s meeting, provoking an acrimonious dialogue over the dais. More: Toms River South students deliver Thanksgiving meals More: Toms River schools post superintendent's new contract Continue Reading

Alabama senior invites grandmother to prom, but high school says she’s too old to go

An Alabama grandmother was brought to tears when her grandson invited her to his senior prom, but school officials have banned the pair from attending the spring formal. Bryce Maine hand-painted a colorful banner, the word “PROM?” scrawled across the center, and then hung it in the hallway of Eufaula High School on his 18th birthday. He texted his 69-year-old grandmother, Catherine, the same afternoon, telling her he wasn’t feeling well and that he needed a ride home. When she arrived at the high school off Lake Drive she happily accepted his invitation to the school dance, and even purchased a long ivory gown for the big night. “My grandma is the most important woman in my life and she’s never had a prom before. So I figured why not let her go with me?” Bryce told Inside Edition. “Every woman deserves to go to prom, no matter how old you are,” he told CNN. The school’s administrators, however, disagreed — because of her age, Catherine was banned from attending Eufaula’s formal dance. Eufaula City Schools principal Steve Hawkins in a statement explained prom attendees must either be 20 years old or younger and refused to bend the rules. Bryce’s father on Monday met with school administrators with hope of changing their minds but was also unsuccessful, Fox News reported. “For the 10 years I have been high school principal, we have denied requests each year from students asking to bring older dates to prom,” he said. “We do not chance leaving any stone unturned when it comes to safety. Most high schools have an age limit for prom attendees.” Bryce said the school was concerned about “alcohol... in case, you know, she was trying to distribute to minors. “I’m heartbroken,” the high schooler told WTVM. The school’s decision to ban Continue Reading

A murder-suicide, one year later: ‘You just learn to cope’

Sometimes, Emily Brown’s mind flashes back to July 2, 2015.When she hears firecrackers. Sees wood decks. Smells the aromas of a summer night.Brown was a customer at Flapjack’s Restaurant and Pub off U.S. Route 15 in Carroll Township that night, along with about 50 to 60 other people. It was Bike Night. Bud Lights were on special for $2, and it was about 24 hours from the start of the holiday weekend.But shortly before 9 p.m., Arthur Guise, 31, walked onto the patio and, without saying a word, shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, Sharon Williams, 33. He then killed himself.What happened that night in a normally quiet area of York County has, in a way, forever connected a group of people: witnesses, first-responders and members of both families. One year later, they press forward in different ways.Guise’s parents are attempting to bring awareness to post-traumatic stress disorder — which they believed he battled — and suicide among veterans. Williams’ loved ones are trying to keep her memory alive.“Your life changes,” said Brown, 48, a small business owner who lives in Carlisle. “That’s for sure.”•••Looking back, Brown thinks she was “more prepared” than most people who were there.She had already been going to therapy. She had already learned not to hold in her feelings.That’s because in 2010, her son, Jyler Yock , a “typical teenager” who played football and lacrosse, also died by suicide. He was 15.As time goes on, she said, the experience of what happened at the bar “lightens a bit.” Her emotions aren’t as intense — but they can still go everywhere.Now, Brown said, she tries to help other people. If they mention that something’s not right in their relationship, she encourages them to speak up.“The timing, the being there and just — you do Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma: Collier County schools rescheduled to reopen Sept. 25

Collier public schools have pushed their earliest student return date from Wednesday, Sept. 20 to Monday, Sept. 25.In an email sent to parents Friday, the district listed several reasons for the reopening delay, including a boil water notice issued Friday that impacts school water fountains and food preparations, fuel scarcity for parents, staff and 350 school buses, flooding at bus stops, broken traffic lights, families who need more time to repair damages to their homes and a need to deep clean the schools that housed 17,000 people and many pets.Immokalee High School and Palmetto Ridge High School continue to house the public while Oakridge Middle School, Cypress Palm Middle and Calusa Park Elementary are providing shelter to emergency workers. Barron Collier High School is being used as a staging site for equipment.Another reason listed in Friday’s email cited backed up sewage systems in the schools.“Ongoing sewage system issues countywide are causing backups in our schools while not in use, and the return of 7,000 employees and 48,000 students and the associated demand put on the system could make that worse,” the email read. More: Hurricane Irma: 'Church service' takes on new meaning in SWFL in wake of storm More: Hurricane Irma: Collier County government facilities reopen Monday More: Hurricane Irma: Collier to issue precautionary swim advisory until beaches can be tested for bacteria More: Hurricane Irma: Gas, groceries, restaurants that are re-opening In a prior email sent to parents Wednesday, the district said their reopening date is “directly impacted by power outages.”CCPS announced Friday power had been restored to 26 of 54 school sites and Florida Power and Light said they currently expect power to be restored to all locations by Sept. 22.CCPS has several generators that were used to power the 29 schools that served as shelters during the hurricane.  District spokesman Continue Reading

Many Arizona schools hire underqualified, inexperienced teachers to fill gaps

On a Saturday in late April, Principal Theresa Nickolich gave her best recruiting pitch to every person who walked in the door.Come teach at Clarendon Elementary School in the Osborn School District, she told the candidates at the job fair.You'll be part of a system that will support you. You'll feel like family in a professional environment built up over years of strong leadership. You will be an anchor of stability for children in need, many of them poor.You will have a rewarding career. You will change lives.But across from Nickolich stood both her biggest recruiting challenge and an emblem of one of the biggest crises facing public education in Arizona.Almost no qualified applicants walked in. It was the last job fair of the year in the Osborn district before the quiet summer months. In a school of about two dozen classroom teachers, Nickolich still had five jobs to fill for the fall. MORE:  Search for your school in our database | Teachers: We want to hear from youIf Nickolich couldn't fill her spots with qualified teachers, she would have to turn to teaching interns. Maybe somebody with an emergency teaching credential, maybe somebody who didn't yet have a teaching certificate. In a dire situation the state could even let her employ a temporary teacher without a college degree.The recruiting challenge Nickolich faced that day in April isn't unique to Osborn, or even to her region. It's a crisis that school administrators recognize statewide:Every spring, thousands of teaching positions open across the state. Every spring, fewer qualified people apply to fill them.The Arizona Republic gathered data from 162 Arizona school districts, accounting for 46,000 teachers and about 80 percent of the state's 1.1 million public-school students in the 2016-17 term. Of those teachers, 22 percent lacked full qualifications.Many in that 22 percent did have a college education and Continue Reading

State cites Male High principal in ACT cheating scandal

A Kentucky Department of Education investigation has found several standardized test violations at Male High School and has referred former principal David Mike and two other staffers to the Education Professional Standards Board, where they could face sanctions.The report, released Monday, followed months of scrutiny after students alleged Mike and others helped them cheat on a standardized test — and then asked them to lie to ACT officials investigating him in December.Mike, who took over the job of principal last year at Male — one of the district's higher-performing high schools — has already been reassigned to non-instructional duties and prohibited from administering ACT tests without permission.In addition to Mike, counselor Rhonda Branch and teacher Debbie Greenberg have also been referred to the Education Professional Standards Board. All three are being referred because the violations could prove to be intentional, KDE commissioner Terry Holliday said. MORE: Excerpts of Male High testing allegations EARLIER: Male High School principal investigatedKDE's investigation into the administration of the ACT Compass Test in 2013 at the school found several violations, according to the report, including:• Students were assisted by teachers and other students answering Kentucky Compass secure test items while using a Compass diagnostic program as a practice test.• Students were allowed students to take a practice test repeatedly, increasing their exposure to real test items.• Proctors helped students answer live test items during practice test sessions.The report says that it was not "general knowledge" that there were live ACT Compass test questions on the "practice tests" when the events took place.Nevertheless, "these actions increased the number of students who reached college readiness and improved Louisville Male High School's overall" state accountability rating, the report said.The report also cited apparent Continue Reading

How to fight resegregation and inequality in our schools: Dialogue Delaware

Editor's note: This piece is adapted from a Sept. 22 speech Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo Strine gave at the University of Delaware.  In 1996, Delaware obtained relief from the federal court supervision imposed after the state had to be forced to desegregate its schools.In arguing that Delaware could operate its schools consistent with constitutional principles of equality, the state said: “The Four Districts went far beyond constitutional requirements by continually readjusting attendance zones to maintain racial balance [and achieved] ... unprecedented and sustained racial balance for seventeen years.” Background: Delaware student test results confirm plight of low-income students "We the people" of Delaware took responsibility for giving life to our constitutional commitment to racial equality.  What did we do with that responsibility?We resegregated our schools — by both race and poverty. There are 13 elementary schools in Wilmington. More than 75 percent of the students at each of these schools are minority and over 60 percent are low income.Compare a suburban school with one in the city. In Hockessin, North Star Elementary reopened in 2005 and, within its first year, ranked second highest statewide in student achievement for both math and reading.Why might that be so? North Star’s student body is 88 percent white, 4 percent black, and 5 percent low income. And the staff? Eighty-one percent of the teachers at North Star have 10 or more years of teaching experience. More details: Delaware teachers not as diverse as their students By contrast, in the city, Warner Elementary’s test scores are among the lowest in the state. Warner’s student body is 76 percent black, 3 percent white, and 83 percent low income.  Fifty-four percent of the teachers at Warner have less than 10 years of experience.And this is not just a Red Clay dynamic.  City elementary Continue Reading

New York’s best outdoor dining during spring and summer

The first day of summer might be weeks away, but the nights when outdoor dining is a must have already arrived. Here’s where to seek a bit of the street (or the sidewalk, the patio, the terrace or the courtyard) while sticking to your summer budget. BYOF All local dives have a notebook stuffed with delivery menus, but Franklin Park ups the ante. The nicest feature of this now-spacious Prospect Heights bar — they added a game room with fireplace and Skee-Ball over the winter — is an extra-deep, extra-secluded patio with nearly a dozen picnic tables. Sip a $5 Six-point Craft Ale, order in or pack a picnic, and check out free events like Friday deejays, Thursday readings and free music on Tuesdays. You can even reserve space for large parties. Franklin Park, 618 St. Johns Place, between Franklin and Classon Aves., Brooklyn, (718) 975-0196 BYOB Countless restaurants have BYOB policies — the East Village block of Seventh St. called Indian Row and the Ukrainian cafes along Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach Boulevard, for example — but this tiny Ditmas Park cafe has a hidden front courtyard that always feels like your own secret spot. Tibetan specialties like a chili-spiked chickpea salad with ginger, lemon and scallions or sweet rice with raisins and yogurt are perfect summer food — and don’t miss the steamed beef dumplings called momo. There’s beer next door, or get your wine up the block at the newish shop called TB Ackerson. Cafe Tibet, 1510 Cortelyou Road, between E. 15th St. and Buckingham Road, Brooklyn, (718) 941-2725 MEDIAN COOL Forget sidewalk dining, the coolest free al fresco space is smack in the middle of the street, thanks to a partnership between the city’s Department of Transportation and neighborhood business improvement districts. A little over a year ago the DOT carved out space between lanes on several of the city’s broadest avenues: Ninth Ave. just north and just south of Continue Reading