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March 1, 2012 Issue

LMS uses new grading system
Garden Club plants tree for Arbor Day
Polls open in primary Tuesday
Bond set for dragging suspects

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LMS uses new grading system

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Ken Hildebrant is excited about a new way of letting students know how they’re doing in school.

Hildebrant, principal at Louisville Middle School, said the new grading system, called standards-based grading, lets parents know what their children actually know and where they stand academically.


Instead of giving out As, Bs, Cs and Fs, teachers are using terms like emerging, proficient, not evident and exceeding.

Hildebrant said there are several different variations.

“We’re still working on the terminology,” he said. “I want to put as positive a connotation as possible on everything.”

In a presentation to the Jefferson County Board of Education last November, Hildebrant said this system will provide families more information on the student’s strengths and weaknesses and more information on what the student is expected to learn.

He pointed out that single grades hide strengths and weaknesses by combining different factors.

Traditional grading practices vary from teacher to teacher, subject to subject, class to class and school to school, he said.

Other areas in Georgia that use standards-based grading include Rockdale, Forsyth and Camden counties; he said, and other states that use the system are Arizona, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, California and New York.

“We’re telling a parent where their child stands and what they actually know,” he said in an interview last month.

“It makes it more equitable. There won’t be any discrepancy between an 80 in my class and an 80 in your class,” he said.

Hildebrant said they have also started having Saturday school at LMS.

“We can’t pay the teachers; but, we had nine teachers volunteer,” he said.

Of the approximately 340 students enrolled at the school, 40 students attended the first day of Saturday school, he said.

“We’ve been studying about this since last year,” the principal said. “A lot of these education experts are proponents of it.”

Hildebrant said students’ reactions are pretty good.

“The teachers are keeping portfolios of student work,” he said. “We also have the students self evaluate. We show students samples of work that meets the standard, exceed the standard.”

Standards are still determined by the state, he said.

Hildebrant said things that might be included in a grade are not included in the new system.

“We’re not grading behaviors now, we’re grading school work,” he said. “We can address that a different way rather than penalizing someone’s grade on that.”

And the school work is evaluated in the same way by all teachers.

“If homework counts 10 percent in one teacher’s class, homework is 10 percent in the other teachers’ classes,” he said.

Teachers are also teaching to the students’ needs, not just teaching one lesson for the entire class.

“Not everybody in that classroom needs to be working on the same thing at the same time,” he said.

Hildebrant said this system provides parents with a better understanding of how their children are doing in school.

The principal said this is the most fair and equitable way to provide feedback to the students and their parents on the students’ performance.

“I just think it’s the way we’re going as a state,” he said. “We’re looking just at academics and I think that helps us and helps the kids.”

Garden Club plants tree for Arbor Day

By Oraleethia L. Morgan

Louisville Mayor Larry Morgan signed a proclamation during a council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 14, recognizing Friday, Feb. 17, as Arbor Day for the city of Louisville. Heidi Murphy, of the Louisville Garden Club, said the garden club would hold a tree planting ceremony to celebrate Arbor Day.

In the meeting, the mayor said he had a meeting in Atlanta earlier on the day of the tree planting, but wanted to make sure he was present at the ceremony.


The garden club and the mayor planted a tree in the median downtown as part of the ceremony Friday. Murphy said the site was where a tree had been uprooted.

Murphy, a member of the club’s tree committee, said students at the Louisville Academy watched a special Arbor Day episode of Reading Rainbow to celebrate the holiday.

The mayor said this will be one of many Arbor Day tree plantings as the city strives to become a member of Tree City USA. He said he hopes the city’s qualifications would be met sometime this year and hopes the city would become a member by the end of the year or early next year.

“It is a program we offer to cities to promote trees,” said Patricia Boardman in an interview Tuesday, Feb. 28. Boardman is a member services representative for the Arbor Day Foundation.

She said cities have standards they have to meet to become a member of Tree City USA.

In an interview Tuesday, Feb. 28, the mayor said becoming a part of Tree City USA would give the city recognition for its beautiful trees and its care for the trees and beautification of the city. He said the Garden Club decided to begin this process and the city is in support of the efforts.

He said although becoming a member of Tree City USA is an extensive process and may take close to a year, it is worth it. He also said the city will receive signs on its streets saying the city is a member of Tree City USA.

In February’s council meeting the mayor also signed a proclamation reserving the week of March 12, 2012, through March 17, 2012, as Louisville’s Citywide Cleanup Week. This event is made possible through the City of Louisville and the Louisville Garden Club. The citywide clean up is also a part of the city’s effort in becoming a member of tree city.

In order to participate in the cleanup, the mayor said citizens could contact members of the Garden Club or call City Hall at (478) 625-3166 and speak with himself or City Administrator Don Rhodes.

The mayor said he encourages all citizens to participate in the cleanup activities and join together in this effort.

Polls open in primary Tuesday

By Faye Ellison
Staff writer

The Presidential Primary election will be held on Tuesday, March 6, Jefferson County Election Superintendent Susan Gray said Friday.

Gray said there will be two ballots, one republican and one democrat. Only Barack Obama will be on the democratic ballot, while the republican ballot, as of Friday, will feature Michelle Bachman, Newt Gingrich, John Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.


Gray said that the Registrar’s Office is usually sent a notice of who has dropped out of the races, as many have already dropped out of the republican race including Bachman, Huntsman, Johnson, Perry and Roemer. Those still in the running are Gingrich, Paul, Romney and Santorum.

“If they are on the ballot, we have to send something to each precinct, but they tell us to wait for an official notice,” she said. “It should be posted on election days at the precincts.”

The last day to register for this election was Feb. 6 for both Jefferson and Glascock counties.

Absentee ballots for Jefferson County have to be requested by March 2.

“It is the last day we can receive an application and mail out an absentee ballot,” Gray said. “We are still getting requests now. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by March 6 when they are sent back to us.”

postmarked by March 6 when they are sent back to us.”

In Glascock County, Elizabeth Hadden of the Registrar’s Office said that absentee ballots will be available before the election and will be counted as long as it was sent back to the office by election day.

Neither county is in need of a special election.

All precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Jefferson and Glascock counties.

Qualifying for the election of local officials in both counties will be held from May 23 at 9 a.m. until May 25 at noon.

Bond set for dragging suspects

By Rob Pavey
Morris News Service

A Dearing, man and his girlfriend could face a McDuffie County jury as early as September in the slaying of the man’s ex-wife, who was shot, tied to a pickup truck and dragged more than five miles along a rural highway.

The couple — 43-year-old Ricky Charles Wells and Tina Ann Wells, 40, of Boneville – were charged in the Sept. 29 death of Jennifer Kitchens Wells and remain jailed on bonds set earlier this month at $1 million each.


The bond was required because the suspects had been jailed longer than 90 days without indictment.

“The next step would be taking the case to indictment, and hopefully, by the time we are ready to do that, all the reports we need will be back in,” said District Attorney Dennis Sanders of the six-county Toombs Judicial Circuit.

Authorities say the victim, a 36-year-old mother of two, was lured from her residence in Gibson to the Happy Valley convenience store near Thomson, supposedly to discuss a child custody situation.

The shooting is believed to have occurred in the store parking lot, but the investigation also required scrutiny of a grisly, 5-mile crime scene that extended from the store and into neighboring Warren County, where the body was recovered.

A key question to be answered is whether the victim was alive when she was tied to the truck and dragged.

The next opportunity for the grand jury to consider indictments in the case will be June, followed by another session in August, Sanders said.

The next trial term will be held in September.

“As long as the case is indicted in June or August, there is a chance it could get on the September trial term,” he said.

The case could also be evaluated as a potential death penalty prosecution, but no decisions have been made.

“Once we get the GBI reports in, and have a chance to read and examine everything, we will sit down with our staff to discuss what happens from there,” he said.

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