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Louisa-Lawrence Co, KY

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LOUISA -- LCHS Chorus director Jane Lowe has sent more than 100 students to All-State Choir in her 25 years in her position, none she is more proud of than this year's seven choir members who made the 'big time' and traveled to Louisville for three days of performing with students from all over the state.

At LCHS the choir department has three divisions, Freshmen, Choir, and Honors Choir. The ones who attend the competition usually come from the honors choir.

Two of this year's All-State Chorus members, have been selected for the honor three straight years. Seniors Katherine Borders, the daughter of Ken and Tammy Borders of Louisa, and Michael Parker, son of Rita and Rodney Parker, also of Louisa, are three time winners in addition to their other activities at LCHS.

"It's a great experience," Michael said this morning. "You really get to perform with the best in the state and that is a lot of fun as well as educational."

Ms. Borders began her singing at church at Louisa First Baptist and has been very successful, Her dad, Ken, was once a radio personality so the voice in perhaps in the genes.

"It's a big thrill to be chosen for the All-State Choir and it's also a lot of fun," Katherine said.

Ms. Lowe explained that the students actually earn the honor in the district competition which was held on the campus of Kentucky Christian University at Grayson, Ky. this year in October 2010, where she took fifteen of her students to audition in front of a distinguished panel of four judges. "At the district the students are asked to perform in quartets, at least one solo line and also they must perform a piece of music they are not familiar with," Ms. Lowe said. "They are judged there and selected to go to Louisville."

Students are categotized into tenor, bass, alto and soprano divisions, she said.

"While we were at the KMEA convention we went to several informative meetings and some wonderful concerts," Ms. Lowe said. "Friday was the best! At 1:45, Sue and I attended a PD that was presented by Annie Adkins Johnson (LCHS '98) and her husband, John. At 2:55, we listened to the Morehead Vocal Jazz Ensemble that prominently features Jessica Keeton (LCHS '07). At 4:55, we were mesmerized by the UK Men's Chorus whose membership includes Tanner Stevens (LCHS '10) At 8:00, we proudly watched our seven All-State singers perform with hundreds of Kentucky's best high school singers. It was an awesome day, and we must be doing something right!"

The proof is in the pudding, and at LCHS the choir program is making some mighty tasty music these days.

LOUISA -- Please congratulate Brandon Leedy for placing 3rd in Region and qualifying for State Governor's Cup Competition March 12-14.

Also, our other Academic Team members competed at a high level placing us 6th overall in a very competitive 13-team region (4 points from 4th place overall). Check out The Independent's front page article from Sunday's edition concerning the Governor's Cup-it portrays our school in a positive light in referring to education.

WE are turning the page!!

Lastly, our Quick Recall Team finished 4th overall after falling short against Ashland Blazer in the Quarterfinals.

To my knowledge, it is the highest any Quick Recall Team has ever finished in Regionional competition. If we could have finished 1st or 2nd, we would have qualified for State! Obviously, that is our goal for next year!! Our Quick Recall team members that competed Saturday were Mark McClanahan, Cody Blevins, Brandon Leedy, Stephen Burke, Dustin Kiser, Kaitlin Lemaster, Kaitlin Skeens, Toby Fraley, Ben Esham, Tanner Bowen, and Jimmy Stark.

Please congratulate the previously mentioned students and the following for their participation on the Academic Team this year:

Rachel Hardin, Ashleigh Thompson, Chelsea West, Morgan Pack, Devan Snead, Taylor McCreary, Larisa Gauze, Krystal Vance, Tyler Wood, Matthew Hammond, Zach Priddy, Jacob Holbrook, Steven Clay

Thanks for everything you do for OUR kids and school!! Once again, we are making progress, keep up the great work!!

Posted by Eddie Dixon


A group of moderate Democratic senators released a set of principles this morning for revising the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that closely mirrors the Obama administration's own vision as outlined in a blueprint released almost a year ago.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, of Colorado, the administration's Senate soulmate on K-12 issues, and Sen. Kay Hagan, of North Carolina, led the effort to craft the moderates' ESEA wish list.

The statement, which was signed by 11 senators in all, represents a moderate marker on ESEA. It remains to be seen whether it will appeal to at least some moderate Republicans and liberal Democrats, whose support will be needed to get an ESEA reauthorization bill through the Senate (not to mention the more conservative U.S. House of Representatives).

The lawmakers used much of the same rhetoric that the administration has in describing their ideas for K-12 policy. For instance, the statement of principles criticizes the current version of the law, the nine-year-old No Child Left Behind Act, for encouraging states to lower their standards while being really rigid about how they meet those standards—that line is also one of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's greatest hits.

"We should reverse that paradigm through reauthorization: supporting state efforts to set clear, high, common standards for students to be college-and career-ready, but allowing much greater flexibility at the state and local level to determine the best way to meet those standards," the statement of principles says.

It also links improving education with ensuring the nation's long-term economic progress, an Obama-ism.

Specifically, the group wants to:

1) Change the accountability system at the heart of the law—Adequate Yearly Progress or AYP—so it focuses on student growth over time, as opposed to the current system, which basically compares different cohorts of students to one another. This proposal is no surprise. Almost everyone, from conservative Republicans to liberal Democrats, likes the idea of measuring growth, and many states are already doing it through a pilot project at the Education Department that was started by Duncan's predecessor, Margaret Spellings.

They also want to offer rewards or incentives to schools that are making major jumps in student achievement. That reminds me of the Title I rewards proposal in Obama's fiscal year 2012 budget request, which would, in essence, give money and flexibility to schools that help students make progress.

And the senators want to give states more flexibility in figuring out how to intervene in most schools that miss AYP (for instance, those that are successful with most students but aren't working well with a particular subgroup, such as English-language learners) while being really stringent with the lowest-performing schools. Schools that really can't improve should be shut down. That's straight out of the Obama blueprint, too.

2) Stick with the Obama administration's four options for turning around the lowest-performing schools, which include steps such as turning a school over to a charter operator, closing the school, removing half the teachers, and/or putting in a new instructional program, and extending learning time while beefing up professional development. The senators say schools that are struggling the most really need these dramatic models, which have faced some major bipartisan criticism.

The senators say they want to ensure that the models, most of which call for staff shakeups, are workable for rural schools, which may have a tougher time attracting new teachers and principals. And they say community buy-in is key.

3) On teachers, see that colleges of education are held accountable for the performance of their graduates. (This closely tracks with an Obama budget proposal, which was spurred by a Bennet idea.) And the moderates want to provide competitive money to create and scale-up promising teacher prep programs.

They also want to see new systems for measuring teacher effectiveness that incorporate a bunch of measures, including student outcome data, to be developed with teacher cooperation. And they want more on-the-job support for teachers, including extra money for those that take on extra responsibilities.

4) Continue Race to the Top, the administration's signature K-12 initiative, which rewarded states for embracing certain education reform principles, such as charter schools and performance pay. The administration has suggested making it a district competition.

The lawmakers also want to continue the Investing in Innovation, or i3, program, which scaled up promising practices at the district level.

5) Fix the so-called "comparability loophole" in Title I, so that schools would have to report salary data for teachers in addition to other expenses. Districts also should make sure that high-poverty schools get their fair share of state and local resources, the lawmakers say. The administration tried something similar in the reporting requirements for the federal economic-stimulus program, and the lawmakers see that as a good model.

When I think of comparability, I automatically think of The Education Trust, an advocacy organization in Washington that has been championing this idea for eons. But it's not a slam-dunk and could get politically dicey, as this story shows.

So does this moderate set of principles mean that the Obama blueprint has momentum? Maybe. But these lawmakers are probably among the administration's closest allies in Congress on K-12 policy, so if they hadn't liked the blueprint, it's pretty safe to say no one was going to.

In addition to Bennet and Hagan, the set of principles was signed by Democratic Sens. Mark Begich, of Alaska; Thomas Carper, of Delaware; Chris Coons, of Delaware; Dianne Feinstein, of California; Herb Kohl, of Wisconsin; Mary Landrieu, of Louisiana; Joe Manchin, of West Virginia; Mark Warner, of Virginia; and Connecticut's Joseph Lieberman, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

UPDATE: Some of these lawmakers may be introducing bills on parts of the list of principles in coming weeks. For instance, Hagan is working on a bill on turning around the lowest performing schools.