Plank thrilled with efforts at MHS

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Principal Steve Plank updated the Board of Education on what is happening at MHS as part of the annual school improvement team report at the regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 8.

Plank opened by encouraging people not to compare MHS, Clark Street Community School and the 21st Century eSchool, noting that each offers unique experiences for District high school students.

"MHS offers a more traditional experience, while CSCS and 21st century eSchool are incubators for innovation,'' he said. "We each play very important roles.''

Plank shared information on the new code of conduct. He also reported that five students have met requirements for graduation from prior classes since the start of the school year, while another earned their degree through Gateway to College program offered by Madison College.

He also reported that the number of students failing a course has dropped from 277 in 2012-13 to 154 last year. He said staff are to be credited for their proactive work of contacting families, having students redo homework or assessments and doing more interventions. He also shared that more than 230 National Honor Society students are tutoring other students for the first time this semester.

MHS is working hard to improve communication. Plank has started a podcast and the school restarted its Cardinal Connection publication, which the school is trying to produce every six weeks.

"People can see I'm there and I'm real,'' Plank said. "It's working because I get approached much more than before and that's a good thing.''

Plank said he was proud of the work done to redo the course handbook. MHS offers approximately 235 courses, which rivals many small colleges in offerings, he said. He noted there is now a "super-slick" online version and videos for students and families to watch. Every student will receive a course handbook, while it is also eighth-graders first introduction to MHS.

"When we put our mind to something, we can get something that we are very proud of,'' Plank said.

He briefly reviewed other highlights including the Class of 2017 having an ACT composite score of 24.2. "That's incredibly elite company,'' he said. He also noted about 550 students took more than 1,000 Advanced Placement courses this past year.

He praised the efforts of Cardinal Enterprise, a joint effort between the technology and business education departments. He noted choir students performed with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra at a summer concert on the Capitol Square and will perform at two concerts in 2018.

He also praised students Balaji Veeramani (Project Boolean) and Rachel Woody (Code CS) for their efforts to do special projects that were highlighted in local newspapers.

"They had an idea and really ran with it. It's special,'' Plank said.

The MHS athletic department was one of 15 to receive inaugural WIAA Award of Excellence. He also raved about the partnership with UW Credit Union, which is opening a branch in the school later this month.

"They have exceeded our expectations,'' Plank said. "They are incredible to work with. They care about our kids. They have already proved to be phenomenal partners.''