2016-17 Year In Review

Plenty to be #DDCometProud of in 2016-17!

The 2016-17 School Year did not disappoint!

We are #DDCometProud of our many highlights and accomplishments:

Dual Language grows

Delavan-Darien School District remains the only system in Walworth County to offer a true Dual Language Immersion experience in the classroom. Starting in 4-year-old kindergarten and progressing last year through third grade, students can learn Spanish and English so they become bilingual, biliterate and bicultural.

Students in this choice educational program receive instruction primarily in Spanish when starting out. Gradually, more English is spoken until it’s about a 50/50 split in the regular education classroom. English is still spoken in all specials classes (music, band, art, etc.).

The program, which expands to 4th grade this school year, will help our students become fully fluent in two languages, and be able speak, read, write and understand English and Spanish. They’ll also have an understanding of the many Spanish-speaking cultures of the world and be more employable upon high school graduation.

Fab Labs kick into high-gear

The Delavan-Darien Fab Labs kicked it into high gear in 2016-17. A new Fab Lab was opened at Phoenix Middle School and the DDHS Comet Creations Fab Lab popularity grew rapidly.

The Fab Labs are a part of a revitalized Woods, Metals and Technical Education program at DDHS and Phoenix. The areas  at both Phoenix and DDHS were revamped with the support of various grants — including state Fab Lab grants through WEDC — and community partnerships with area businesses and individuals. Equipment was upgraded, safety was improved and new programs were developed that will teach and prepare kids for the careers of tomorrow in our classrooms today.

Student interest in the available courses is thriving. Area businesses were also a part of developing and suggesting curriculum materials so we can prepare our kids for the demands of the jobs. Last year, a Fab Lab also opened up at Phoenix Middle School where students can get a jump on engineering courses. We also remain a certified Project Lead The Way school district, and offer a girls-only summer “STEAM” camp (science, technology, engineering, art and math) with the intent on getting more females involved in the tech ed program offerings.

Auto Mechanics Approved for a Comeback

During the school year, the board of education approved a plan to re-introduce an Auto Mechanics Program at DDHS, which has been absent from the curriculum for just more than a decade.

The new program will start with basic auto classes (which are all full due to high interest and student demand), and become more advanced over time. Area mechanics were a part of bringing the program back and are providing guidance for students who are preparing for careers that are currently in high demand!

Music program again seen as among nation’s best

For the third time in four years, the Delavan-Darien School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

Delavan-Darien was among 4% of districts in the country to receive the prestigious award in 2017. Only 21 Wisconsin districts were recognized by the national organization.

The district received the award in 2016 and 2014, as well.

Phoenix out-paces nation in achievement growth

Phoenix Middle School school continues to outpace the nation when it comes to student achievement growth during the school year in the key subjects of reading and math. The learning by Phoenix Middle School students has accelerated faster than at least 9 out of every 10 students nationwide in both reading and math, data from 2016-17 national Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) tests shows. The school’s 482 students have bettered more than 90 percent of the country in growth in all middle school grades and subject areas. This is tremendous news for a school that continues to show academic improvements.

Student group leading DDHS Improvements

A new student group at DDHS called TRAIL (Teamwork, Respect, Accountability, Integrity, and Leadership) started last year to bring student-led improvements to the school. Students are working on such projects as: being greeters at the doors when students walk into the building; new athletics posters to put up with sports team schedules and encouraging attendance at events; students update a looping slideshow on the Commons TV with up-to-date school information and photos; a “birthday wall” where students who are having a birthday during the month are recognized. Students are also working together with the staff “climate committee” to find other ways to improve. One group of TRAIL students is even looking into developing an “honor wall” for DDHS alumni who have served in the U.S. military.

Comet Code Honored

All five Delavan-Darien Schools received recognition from the Wisconsin RtI Center for having strong behavior education programs. Delavan-Darien High School received a “Silver Award,” while the district’s other four schools were “Bronze Award” winners.

The program recognizes schools that focus on teaching students positive behaviors and that have quality learning environments for all students.

All five schools have been recognized in prior years for excellence in their behavior programs, and we continue improvement in this area.

Full Academic Ride for First-Generation
College Student

DDHS senior Jesus Garcia, a first-generation college student in his family, received a full academic scholarship to attend the University of Southern California.

The Trustee Scholarship is worth more than $53,000 per year for four years and is awarded to a very select group of students.

“The education I received, not only did I challenge myself with hard courses, such as honors and (Advanced Placement) courses, but my teachers always sought out to help me in any way they could,” he said. “Having DDHS be such a close, tight-knit community with the city of Delavan has made it so much easier for me to gain resources that wouldn’t be available if I was in, say, a city that was no so close and bonded like Delavan is. Delavan-Darien, I love the school.”

Sirkman chosen to attend Inauguration Experience

Then-DDHS Sophomore Lizzie Sirkman was one of 125 students from the US chosen to attend the Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit and see the swearing in of President Trump this past January.

As part of the experience, Sirkman got to hear an unparalleled slate of speakers including Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, General Colin Powell, actor and movie producer Spike Lee, Olympic and World Cup women’s soccer champion Abby Wambach, former presidential candidates Carly Fiorina and Governor Martin O’Malley, political pundits Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson, and others.

She also got to participate in a Delegations of Change, a simulation where Summit Scholars worked together to create workable solutions to the challenges that their generation and the new presidential administration will face. And, she got to go to Inaugural Gala event at the Smithsonian Institution Museum.


Other Highlights from the year that was!

  • More than 150 DDHS Students did a “day of service,” volunteering at 13 sites around the community.
  • Wileman Elementary School kindergarten teacher Pam Clark was Wisconsin’s winner and received 500 free books in the national Scholastic book contest.
  • Students designed pillowcases for the Walworth County Treehouse; pillowcases for children with cancer and receiving long-term hospitalization; and tie blankets for children who stay at Twin Oaks Homeless Shelter.
  • Six Phoenix students placed in the top 3 in the Southern Lakes Conference Middle School Academic Bowl, including Kate Pehkonen, Breanna Yartey, Collette Riviere, Myles Lockhart, Ezikel Rice and Melynna Arreola.
  • DDHS senior Troy Feeney was a Southern Lakes Conference Forensics Champion in Poetry. He also received third place in Poetry Interpretation at the Wisconsin Forensics Coach’s Association State Tournament.
  • Operation Click at DDHS netted two huge awards. Senior Erinn Penniman was named the program’s Student Of The Year winner and the DDHS chapter won the program’s Video Of The Year award for a video it produced. The video, about DDHS Alumna Kaitlyn Vegter’s car accident and recovery, went viral, prompting the  State Department of Transportation to produce a similar video about the dangers of distracted driving caused by technology use.
  • Destination Imagination sent four teams to the state tournament this year and one team was just a few points away from being able to attend the Global Finals.
  • DDHS had 191 graduates with 12 earning a GPA of 4.0 or above, 24 with a GPA of 3.75 or above, and 73 with a GPA of 3.0 or above. Fifty-three seniors had more than 40 hours of community service and there were 4,223 total hours of documented service work done by graduates. The class had 58 students received $153,450 in local scholarships, plus an additional $553,000 from outside sources.