Ripley County Schools Collaborate to Create Alternative to Suspension
In January 2016 the Ripley County Alternative To Suspension (R-CATS) program opened as a result of a collaborative effort between the four school districts in Ripley County and the Ripley County Juvenile Justice system.
The four Ripley County Superintendents, Rob Moorhead, South Ripley; Jim Roberts, Batesville; Paul Ketcham, Milan and Tim Taylor, Jac-Cen-Del worked with Chief Probation Officer Shannon Schmaltz to develop the program. The program also has the support of Circuit Court Judge Ryan King and Prosecutor Rick Hertel.
The R-CATS program serves as an alternative to out-of-school suspension for all junior high and high school students in the county. The program is housed at the Tyson Activity Center in Versailles. Students who commit violations that typically would have resulted in short term out-of-school suspensions (1-10 days) are instead required to report to Tyson Activity Center. Failure to attend the program will trigger further involvement with the probation department or the circuit court judge.
While at R-CATS, students spend the morning working on school assignments for which they are eligible to receive full credit. Students are required to bring a sack lunch and after lunch they go out into the community to perform various community service activities. Community service activities are coordinated and scheduled by the probation department and students are transported to the locations by the R-CATS supervisor on an activity bus.
There are many positive attributes of the R-CATS program including students no longer viewing suspension as a vacation from school, students being able to keep up with their schoolwork and receive credit for completed work, and students learning the value of community service. Additionally, many community groups are able to benefit from the community service performed by the students.
South Ripley Community School Corporation serves as the LEA for the program, but the costs for program operation are shared by the four school districts. A grant from the Rising Sun Regional Foundation helped provide start up costs to get the program off the ground. The probation department is responsible for the costs of the program location. The R-CATS program is off to a great start and the schools and probation department look forward to continuing to collaborate to serve the needs of all students in Ripley County.
Seymour Schools Young Champions Unified Game Day
On April 15, 2016, Seymour Community Schools held Indiana’s first ever Young
Champions Unified Game Day. Young Champions is an 8 to 12 week program with the
focus on providing students with special needs with different physical activities, leading
them to improved skills and fitness. Seymour Schools was one of 5 School Districts in
the state of Indiana to pilot this program! The activities provided in Young Champions
help develop prerequisite skills to prepare students with special needs for future
participation in sports training and competition. Our Young Champions Planning
Committee, comprised of 3 Elementary PE Teachers, Special Education Teachers, Therapists, and District Staff, started meeting at the beginning of the school year to plan the event.
Seymour Staff implemented the Special Olympics’ longstanding expertise in accessible sports coaching, and advocating for individuals with special needs to participate successfully in inclusive sports and fitness programs in their schools and communities. Staff and therapists worked to create adaptations for students when needed to allow all students the opportunity to participate.
Seymour’s event included students from Jackson Developmental Preschool, Emerson SOAR (Successful Opportunities with Autism Resources) Program, Redding Life Skills classes, and Cortland Elementary. Students with special needs started practicing in January during their Adaptive PE classes, along with their general education Peer Partner. We had a total of 128 students that participated in the events as well as 24 High School Student Athletes on the field to assist. Students participated in quite an entrance – each school marched into the gym with their school banner. Students presented the American Flag as well as the Special Olympics flag. A student with special needs led the crowd in saying the Special Olympics Athlete Oath:
Let me Win, But if I cannot win,let me be brave in the attempt.
-Special Olympics athlete oath
Special Olympics President and CEO, Michael Furnish, was on the field, sharing a few words at the opening ceremony and cheering on students as they competed! Athletes participated in the following 6 activities: Run/Walk Hurdles, Team Bean Bag Throw, Egg and Spoon, Team Bowling, Run/Walk, and Run/Walk Shuttle Relay.
The Young Champions Unified Game Day met its goal of fostering relationships between school, home, parents, siblings, friends, young athletes, and educators and creating an event for all of these areas to come together to celebrate through activities and games. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I will let these pictures tell the rest of the story. We are so proud of all of our Young Champions!
~Mika Ahlbrand, Director of Special Education, Seymour Community Schools