We’re #DDCometProud of the work we’ve done to improve. Here are some of our Accomplishments and Accolades from the 2016-17 School Year.

IMAGE: DDHS Soccer TEam Celebrating

Delavan-Darien School District is 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 this 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 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.


On a related note, Delavan-Darien will next year be a school district that awards a Wisconsin Seal of Biliteracy to graduates who have proven competent in more than one language. Our Bi-lingual Director, Mr. Ron Sandoval, was on a state committee recommending and developing this Seal of Bi-Literacy, for the state. We expect students earning the seal to be fluent in English and Spanish, but other languages are accepted. Students will have to pass written and oral examinations proving they are fluent before they can receive this special seal on their diploma.


Delavan-Darien was proud to launch its all new Fab Lab at DDHS, and have revitalized woods and metals shops alongside it. The areas 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. This year, a Fab Lab also opened up at Phoenix Middle School where students can get a jump on engineering courses. We are also 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.


*We have offered new Family and Consumer Education classes the last two years and are in the process of developing a “Culinary Arts” program. We have two new FCE teachers on board for the coming year to add proper courses for FCE!


Delavan-Darien was the first school district in Walworth County to launch a district-wide one-to-one technology program. The program, completing its fourth year, has Chromebook laptops or iPad devices available to every student in the district. Students in grades 5-12 can take the devices home to continue their studies and remain in contact with teachers and classmates. We have two technology integrators on staff who assist teachers with developing appropriate and exciting lessons that can leverage the variety of technology our students have available to them enhancing curriculum objectives. We’ve demonstrated a number of technologies — from Bee Bot programmable robots for kindergarteners to advanced music composition students writing their own orchestral scores — at open house events to much community amazement and appreciation. Other school districts in Walworth County and beyond have sought our advice on replicating our one-to-one program in their schools.


Delavan-Darien’s music programs continue to be second-to-none in the Walworth County area. We received our third national “Best Communities for Music Education” award from the National Association of Music Merchants. It was our third honor in four years and second consecutive honor (we did not apply for it in 2015). Our students have a wealth music options from 4K-Grade 12, including vocal music and beginning instrumental music in elementary school, Orchestra/Strings instruction starting in fourth grade, band/percussion starting in fifth grade and a variety of bands, choirs and orchestras to be a part of in both middle and high school. Some music speciality classes include African Hand Drumming, Guitar Ensemble and AP Music Theory. Students are also heavily involved in theatrical performances, including annual plays, musicals, one acts and more.


*We are requiring ALL kindergarten through fifth grade students to participate in DAILY physical education classes, beginning this coming fall. We believe healthy bodies make healthy minds!


Combining our transcripted credits with area universities and technical colleges, 16 Advanced Placement courses, youth options and other partnership agreements, Delavan-Darien High School students have approximately 40 opportunities to earn college credit while in high school. This is a huge benefit to them financially if they choose to seek post-secondary education. We’ve had students start college with sophomore and nearly junior standing because of the high-level work they’ve done here at DDHS. Some have earned associate’s degrees through Gateway Technical College while attending DDHS. Some attend and have received scholarships at minor and many at major universities. This includes ALL races.


Delavan-Darien’s schools changed “grade level structures” this school year, moving from a neighborhood elementary system (that had 4K-5 in our three elementary schools) to a center school system, where each school educates specific grade bands of students (Wileman has 4K and Kindergarten, Turtle Creek has grades 1-3, Darien has grades 4-5). Phoenix remained a 6-8 school and DDHS a 9-12 school. This system allows us to: have total integration by race and poverty in all schools; save funds by reducing staff; balance class sizes in terms of race/student needs/gender, etc.; present more opportunities to pair students with a teacher that is best suited to meet a student needs (7 or 8 grade-level teachers in one building vs. 1 or 2 or max 4 under old system); eliminate in-district attendance boundaries; keep students with their original teacher if students move within the district; allow students to know everyone in their “graduating class” cohort from 4K through grade 12;  


Delavan-Darien staff are focused on literacy and reading at all levels. We believe all teachers are reading teachers. Reading and literacy are incorporated into almost all lessons in the classrooms at all grade levels. Even band and physical education instructors focus on keywords and vocabulary to expands our students’ knowledge of words, their meanings and their usage. Delavan-Darien also runs a summertime Bookmobile that travels weekly to about a dozen stops in the city and town of Delavan, and the village of Darien. This year, we also started hosting an Imagination Library program, which provides free books to children in our district ages 0-5 via the US Mail. The program uses fund-raised dollars to support it and it is run as a part of the national Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program. *We also provide many breakfasts for students, in the summer, though our food service coordinator coupled with the Andy’s Breakfast program.


Our school board approved bringing back an auto mechanics program, a program that has been absent from our curriculum offerings for more than a decade. It will start as a basic course and hopefully expand as interest in our Tech Ed areas continue to grow. Students and community members are thrilled to see auto classes coming back and there was enough interest to offer four sections starting next school year. The jobs are in-demand and we are developing programs to fill those jobs in the pipeline after our students graduate.


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 improvements.


A new student group at DDHS called TRAIL (Teamwork, Respect, Accountability, Integrity, and Leadership) started this year to bring student-led improvements to the school. Students are working on such projects as: greeters at the doors when students walk into the building; new athletics posters have gone up with sports team schedules, 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 working together with the staff “climate committee” to find other ways to improve. One group of TRAIL students is also looking into creating an “honor wall” for DDHS alumni who have served in the U.S. military.


Through a grant and community support from churches and businesses, we offer free weekend meals to kids from families in need. Grant-funded “Blessings in a Backpack” supports Wileman Elementary while churches and business have chipped in to provide “Food in a Backpack” to Turtle Creek and Wileman. Stinebrink’s Piggly Wiggly supports us with discounted orders on the pre-packaged meals for hungry kids.


The R.I.S.E. Program, which stands for Reclaiming Individual Student Excellence, continues to help students who do not perform well in a traditional classroom setting. The program, which started at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year with $90,000 in grant funding from the Wisconsin Department of Instruction, has helped dozens of DDHS students earn their diplomas on time. R.I.S.E. is a “school within the school,” where student attend class for part of the day and are required to either work at a job or perform community service in the area. Credits studied in the classroom are broken down into 63 competencies in various subjects. Students can work at their own pace to understand and learn the materials they need to graduate.


We continue to maintain the Boys & Girls Club of Walworth County here at Phoenix Middle School. It’s the only Boys & Girls Club operating in Walworth County.


*Our district is in the process of updating all of the buildings, as it relates to Energy Efficiency. There are already many noticeable improvements and there will be more by the time the project is completed next summer.


*The district’s five schools were recognized this summer by the Wisconsin RTI Center for implementing a culturally responsive multi level system of support and behavior programs. Our Comet Code model — Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Safe — sets the standard for student expectations and we’ve seen tremendous improvements in our school environments as a result of our behavior programs.  

*We have
well-qualified teachers and staff. Many have advanced education degrees and are award winners in their particular area. They work hard, and we are very proud of them.


*AND, Yes, we have budget concerns. But, most is due to being conservative in 1992 before the legislators passed a law capping budgets for the future. Every year since, districts receive approval for a certain percentage of tax increases. Obviously, those that had greater budgets in 1992, can add more revenue under this process, compared to those like us who were conservative in 1992. This process has exacerbated the inequities each year since! Many districts exceed our revenue per child by well-over $3,000 per child! Many of these districts do not have the various student needs that we have, as well.


Here are some other notable recent headlines from Delavan-Darien Schools since winter:

  • More than 150 DDHS Students did a “day of service,” volunteering at 13 sites around the community.
  • We offer free Spanish classes for adult English speakers and English classes for Spanish speakers.
  • Students raised $1200 for the Door County Sled Dogs, and nearly $1000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
  • Wileman Elementary School was Wisconsin’s winner and received 500 free books in the national Scholastic book contest.
  • Fifth graders designed colorful pillowcases for the Walworth County Tree House (a place for abused children).
  • We had teams compete in and awarded at the National Fluid Power Challenge (STEM activity).
  • 10 DDHS artists were featured in the Lake Geneva Art Exhibit with one student receiving an “Outstanding Work” award.
  • We are working to get a community swim team re-established in Delavan.
  • We had conference and regional champions in Forensics.
  • Our Operation Click team (teen safe driving program) won the Video of the Year and Student of the Year awards for the region.
  • Students made blankets for families living at Twin Oaks Shelter.
  • We’ve expanded career fairs and career days to our middle and elementary schools.
  • Senior Jesus Garcia received a full academic scholarship to the University of Southern California.
  • Destination ImagiNation sent four teams to the state competition and one team just missed going to the Global Finals. A year ago, they participated in Nationals.
  • We had numerous Wisconsin School Music Association Solo & Ensemble festival winners including an Exemplary Solo Recognition Award Winner.
  • We host a free summer fun fair for students and families so they can become aware of summertime enrichment activities — camps, library programs, etc.
  • Phoenix Middle School hosted its third Empty Bowls fundraiser. The all-you-can-eat soup sampling event supported the local Boys & Girls Club.
  • Sophomore Lizzie Sirkman was one of 125 outstanding high school students in the nation chosen to attend the presidential inauguration and the Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit, Jan 12-22.


(*EDITOR’S NOTE: Items marked with an * were not in the original list sent to the Gazette, but were added her to make our school community aware of them.)

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