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All invited to steak fry May 14 to celebrate WMS accreditation and $10M Legislative funding for new STEM building

Waimea Middle School teachers and staff members meet with the accreditation team. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WMS)
Waimea Middle School teachers and staff members meet with the accreditation team. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WMS)

Waimea Middle School was awarded a six-year accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

The WASC Commission recently met and reviewed the report submitted by our school’s Visiting Committee, which was chaired by Dr. Steve Shiraki, an Education Specialist with the Hawai’i State Department of Education. Based on the Visiting Committee’s recommendation to the WASC Commission, Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School has been granted a “Six-Year Term with a Midterm Review.”

“This is perfect timing as it coincides with National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 5-9, when we honor teachers for their dedication to children,” Horne said. “Even better, is the fact that this news comes on the heels of last week’s authorization of almost $10 million by the 2014 State Legislature – to be added to the $5 million appropriated in 2013 – to construct our school’s long dreamed of nine-classroom Science-Technology building,” said Horne.

“Accreditation, coupled with 21st century STEM education classrooms, puts Waimea Middle School on the map as one of the state’s most progressive and effective public middle schools,” said Horne.

WMS applied for accreditation with the assistance of Hawai’i Association of Independent Schools and Kamehameha Schools. We established eight focus groups tasked with examining all aspects of school life, from curriculum, assessment and governance to student supports and family engagement, to facilities and financial accountability and transparency. These focus groups produced a comprehensive Self Study that identified strengths and challenges. These conclusions were prioritized and four Action Plans developed that commit the school to an accountable course of continuous improvement, said Horne.

The visiting committee spent three days at the school in late March conducting an in-depth review that involved observing every teacher in action, as well as interviewing each of the focus groups and also students, families, community members, partners, the school’s administrators and its local school board. The Visiting Team then produced a 57-page report for WASC that included both extensive commendations and recommendations to guide the school’s ongoing improvement process.

To celebrate, the entire Waimea school-community is invited to a steak fry next Wednesday, May 14, 5-7 p.m., in the school cafeteria. The steak fry is being hosted by a private funder, The Neilan Foundation, which is helping WMS become more sustainable by underwriting cost saving strategies such as converting to photo voltaic and exploring purchase of our own school buses. The steak fry is free to children 14 and under and for with a suggested a donation. All money raised will go to the school’s new School Bus Fund.

The steak fry also will include presentation of The Neilan Foundation’s new WMS “Grit” Awards for 30 students, and five $1,000 Teacher-Staff “Culture of Excellence” Awards.

Waimea Middle School is the public school of the Waimea/South Kohala region of Hawaii Island with about 285 6th-8th grade students. For more information about the school, including the Accreditation Self Study and Visiting Committee Report, visit www.WaimeaMiddleSchool.org.