JF14The hashtag #CougarFamily has been around for a little while, but it has popped up a lot lately as our football team has taken the “Family” concept to a whole new level.  It has been amazing seeing 3,000 Cougar fans come together on Friday nights to witness some amazing football (and some incredible marching band, dance team, and a truly raucous student section).  It has been a great fall so far for our 5-0 Cougar Football team, highlighting a truly successful first month of school all around.  Our Swim and Dive Team is ALSO 5-0 and has had great showings at very competitive swim meets including one this past weekend at Kennedy.  Our Volleyball team is 5-0 in the division and has had huge, crushing wins over top-ranked Cedar Falls, Iowa City West, and Linn-Mar.  Our Cross-Country teams have had some good meets this year, with several students placing in the top ten at several races.  And our Boy’s Golf team has had a strong rebuilding year with several students receiving MVC honors.  As well, our Marching Band opened its competitive season with a bang, placing 2nd in two separate competitions last weekend!

DSC_0363We have had a very successful start to SMART Lunch this year.  We have seen a tremendous increase in student participation in Tutorials.  Since we started SMART Lunch on September 9, we have had  over 3,500 entries in tutorial sessions and averaged over 320 students in sessions per day last week.  Needless to say, we are seeing far more students receiving extra help than we ever did when it was only offered before or after school.  The IMC is averaging over 250 students per day during SMART Lunch as well.  Your support, as parents, is vital to students receiving the maximum benefit from this program.  We do not allow sophomores and freshmen to leave campus during this time to help develop good study habits early on.  We also do not allow juniors or seniors with Ds or Fs to leave because we feel the evidence is pretty compelling:  students who attend tutorials and/or work in the IMC during lunch do better in school.  Parents, we ask that you support our mission of helping all students maximize their potential by encouraging your child to use SMART Lunch wisely.

I would also encourage you to speak to your child about clubs and academic teams.  We know that students who are involved in school activities are more likely to be successful in school.  Most of our clubs and activities meet during SMART Lunch.  A listing of clubs is available here.

Parent-Teacher Conferences Are Here

We hold parent-teacher conferences during the fall of the school year so that parents have the chance to get to meet teachers and potentially solve problems with teachers before they become too big,  This year, conferences will be held on Wednesday, September 30, Tuesday, October 6, and Thursday, October 8, from 3:30 – 7:30 PM.

Parents may sign up for conferences starting, Wednesday, September 16th, at 8 a.m. with individual teachers online via the Online Conference Scheduling link available on our Kennedy website.

The link is active and will close at midnight prior to each conference date.  Once you are on the site, you will have to enter your student’s first and last name and their Power School password to sign up for conference sessions.  Conference times are ten minutes in length, and parents are limited to three individual sessions. When scheduling the conferences it may be best to plan a ten-minute break between each conference to allow for moving from one teacher location to the next. Please note that high school conferences are with individual teachers rather than the team of teachers as in middle school.  It is for that reason we limit parents to three individual conferences.  Click here sign up!

Congratulations to Class of 2015 National Merit Scholars

Commended Students

Commended Students

Kennedy has eight students receiving recognition from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation this year, with five of them earning the designation of semifinalists.  Each year over 1.5 million high school juniors nationwide take the PSAT/NMSQT.  The top 50,000 students are recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, with the top 16,000


NMS Semifinalists

competing to become finalists.  Scholarships of up to $20,000 are available to finalists.  Our Commended students (top 50,000) this year were Sweta Sudhir, Austin Wu, and Maia Bennett.  And our semifinalists are Joshua Beck, Roger Ferguson, Renee Mittelberg, Walt Wagner-Hect, and McKenna Woods!  These five will go on to compete for a finalist slot which will be announced later in the year!  Congrats to all and best of luck to our semifinalists!

The Fall Play is Nice People

TNPhis year’s fall play runs Thursday, October 1 through Saturday, October 3 at 7:00 PM each evening.  The play is called Nice People: A Loving Homage to the Farce and is written by Kennedy Alumnus Alosha Robinson.  The play is performed in the Black Box and tickets are only $5.  Activities Passes are accepted.  Please take note: Due to some content, the show is rated PG13 and is not advised for younger children.  Please support our amazing Theatre department and come see the fall play!

Attention Sophomores and Juniors: The PSAT is Coming

The PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a comprehensive tool for academically strong juniors who score well on standardized tests as well as all juniors who wish to practice taking a college entrance exam.   This test predicts a score range for how the student might score on the SAT, a test used for college admission at some colleges and universities.  The PSAT demonstrates how the student compares to other juniors across the country on this specific test, and is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test for 11th grade students. Being selected as a National Merit Scholar can provide the top academically talented students with a scholarship or even full tuition at designated colleges and universities. The PSAT, like the SAT, assesses critical reading, mathematic, and writing skills.

For all sophomores, the PSAT will be administered beginning at 8:00 AM in the Main Kennedy Gym.  This test is paid for by the district and all sophomores participate in it.

For juniors who wish to take the test, the PSAT will be offered from 8:00 a.m. until around 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, October 14, at the ELSC, 2500 Edgewood Rd. NW.  Students will be expected to provide their own transportation to the ELSC and back to Kennedy after. However, if transportation is an irresolvable issue, please let us know and we will work to make arrangements for students in need.  Students who would like to take the PSAT must register in the counseling office between October 1st and October 12th.  When students register for the test, they will receive a copy of the Student Bulletin that contains more information about the program and includes a complete practice test.  The cost of the PSAT is $20.  Checks should be made out to Kennedy High School.

Senior Service Project Kicks Off

CN_gQIDUYAEI1GqThe Class of 2016’s Senior Service Project is going to make the neighborhood a little more friendly:  They are helping build an all-inclusive playground at Noelridge Park!

The Class of 2016 is devoting a year of service towards a children’s charity called Variety, that specializes in aiding children with disabilities. Seniors are helping them bring an all-inclusive playground to Noelridge Park. This means that the playground will be designed in such a way that allows children with disabilities, and children without disabilities, to both enjoy the play equipment and enjoy our park together.

2015VarietyStarPlaygroundimageThe senior class is working closely with the Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation department, and the Executive Director of Variety, Keeley Smith. Together, they are raising awareness and raising funds to help bring this amazing addition to the community.

The goals for the Class of 2016 are to unite as a class, raise funds, make connections, become leaders, and help create something that will have a lasting, positive impact in the community. By working with Variety, seniors will help create a space where kids of all abilities can come together and play. This spirit of inclusiveness is very strong at Kennedy, and it is one that the senior class is excited to bring to Cedar Rapids.

To learn more about the project, or donate to the playground, please visit the NHS Webpage.   The seniors this year are thrilled to embark on an incredible year of service, and greatly appreciate your support.  Please share the DONATION LINK with family and friends. All donations will help make a big difference in our community.

Mid-Quarter Grades

Because we have changed to a semester system in the district, grading reports will come at different times of the year.  September 28 marked the first mid-quarter reporting period of the semester.  Parents are encouraged to log on to PowerSchool and check their child’s grades this week.  Our next grade check-point is on October 26, which is about the middle of the semester!  Currently, 88% of all grades are As, Bs, and Cs.  This is a good number, but it means that about 12% of all grades are Ds and Fs and we, of course, want to see students get those grades up.

School Cents Helps Kennedy!

School Cents WhiteIt’s that time of year again!  Save your receipts from Lindale Mall (and surrounding stores) and turn them into Kennedy.  Receipts dated from October 1 to December 31 count.  The more money spent, the more points Kennedy gets.  The more points that Kennedy gets, the more money we can earn!  You can drop receipts in the Attendance Office or in the Kennedy Box in the mall.  Only original receipts will count.

On a related note: we were informed that Target is ending its Take Charge of Education Program this December 31.  If you have not linked your Target Red Card to Kennedy recently, please click on the link and do so.  Every dollar you spend at Target can result in a donation to Kennedy.  Target says it is replacing the program with other education funding programs, so stay tuned for those!  Over the years, Target has donated over $70,000 to Kennedy High School and we greatly appreciate those additional dollars.

Recommended Reading

I do not inherently agree with the content of these articles, but I found that they were interesting and probably relevant to many parents.  Enjoy!

The Paradox of Pushing Kids to Succeed (Psychcentral.com, 2-10-15)

Seven Things Parents and Teachers Should Know about Teens (Edutopia, 6-8-15)

Three Tasks to Help High School Juniors Boost College Success (US News and World Report, 9-28-15)

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, Sept. 30 – Lifetouch picture retakes; Parent-Teacher Conferences 3:30-7 pm

Thursday, Oct. 1 – Class of 2016 Iowa Assessment Celebration – during SMART Lunch; Fall Play 7 pm

Friday, Oct. 2 – Class of 2017 Iowa Assessment Celebration – during SMART Lunch; Fall Play 7 pm

Saturday, Oct. 3 – Fall Play 7 pm

Tuesday, Oct. 6 – Class of 2018 Iowa Assessment Celebration – during SMART Lunch; Parent-Teacher Conferences 3:30-7 pm

Thursday, Oct. 8 – Parent-Teachers Conferences 3:30-7 pm



It Is Great to be Back

IMG_20150827_085715267It is sure great to be a Cougar.  That’s the feeling I got on the first day of school.  There is so much coming up and going on, I haven’t had even a minute to sit down and blog!  I have never had such an energizing opening week, from a great first day of school, to an amazing Fall Pep Assembly, to being able to witness outstanding performances from our Dance Team, Cheerleaders, Band, Swimmers, Divers, Football, Cross Country, Golf, and Volleyball Teams, it has been the best open to school I have ever experienced.

The Homecoming Top 16

The Homecoming Top 16

And now we are here at Homecoming week!  Yes, Homecoming is much earlier this year than in years past, but the calendar this year was full of too many conflicts for us to find a better weekend for the game and the dance.  On Tuesday, we will hold our Homecoming Top 7 Assembly where our court gets the opportunity to present themselves to the entire school.  We will have our Homecoming Parade on Wednesday at 5:30, with the PowderBuff Volleyball Tournament to follow.  On Thursday we will have the PowederPuff Football game at 5:30 on the Kennedy football field.  Friday night is the Homecoming Football Game and the Homecoming King and Queen announcement.  Saturday night at 7:30 is our annual Homecoming Dance.  Students can purchase tickets in advance this week.

DSC_0356We have much to celebrate at Kennedy and much to continue to stay focused on.  We begin SMART Lunch on Wednesday of this week and have been emphasizing its purpose to students throughout the last two weeks.  We are looking for tangible improvements in grades through its implementation and will be evaluating its effectiveness based on that.  Last year we saw a decline in Ds/Fs and hope to see that trend continue.

We have spent the last two weeks utilizing a new concept, the Advisory CNSl72IU8AA_HgwHomeroom.  During this 30-minute homeroom, we worked with students on a variety of things such as “Respecting Diversity” and “Study Skills.”  We also covered topics like the “Scholarship Search Process” for seniors and “The Importance of the Junior Year” with our juniors.  As well, these were added as a means to help students build a closer relationship with their homeroom teacher, whom they will have as a homeroom teacher throughout high school.  All in all, the system was positive and will be utilized sporadically throughout the year.

Everyone have a great Spirit Week, hope to see you at the various events and activities this week, and as always, Go Cougs!

School Board Elections are Today

School Board elections will be held on September 8, 2015. Voting is a good way to have a voice in District decisions. It is important to vote even if there is only one candidate running. If you support the candidate, your vote expresses it. Not voting could open the door for an unknown candidate with unstated goals and opinions to be voted in through a write-in campaign.

Early/absentee voting is currently underway. Learn more at this link –http://www.linncounty.org/732/School-Board-Elections-September-8-2015

You can vote on Sept. 8 at any of these locations:

  • Educational Leadership and Support Center, 2500 Edgewood Road NW
  • River of Life Ministries, 3801 Blairs Ferry Road NE
  • Bethany Lutheran Church, 2202 Forest Drive SE
  • Linn County Public Service Center, 935 2nd Street SW
  • IBEW Local 405, 1211 Wiley Blvd SW

The declared 2015 candidates for the Cedar Rapids Community School District Board of Education are:

Director, District #1 (4-year term)

*Mary Meisterling

Director, District #4 (4-year term)

Rafael Jacobo
*Allen Witt

Director, At-Large (4-year term) – two seats

Todd Cohenour
Kristin Janssen
*John Laverty
*Ann Rosenthal


Tonight is #Splash4Ash

ashSupport Ashley’s battle against cancer by purchasing a T-Shirt ($12) or bracelet ($5)

Jayden Bisson a senior at Kennedy HS and swimmer on the Women’s Swimming team would like to tell you about her sister, Ashley, who has been recently diagnosed with cancer.  Ashley is a beautiful, compassionate, and creative 13 year old young lady.   Winter 2015 was a rough winter for Ashley who was continuously sick with what doctors first thought was a cold, asthma, allergies, and then pneumonia before Ashley was finally correctly diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Stage IVB.  Ashley was immediately admitted to the pediatric oncology unit to begin cancer treatments.  As part of her battle against the cancer, she was required to go through chemotherapy, followed by radiation.  Ashley is currently being treated from side effects of the chemotherapy and radiation.  She is finished with cancer treatments, but continues to be carefully monitored.  We are all hopeful that her future scans will show no signs of cancer.  Through it all she has shown an enormous amount of strength and a positive attitude.  She has also done what she can to support other cancer patients by making blankets to comfort them through their time at the hospital.

ash shirtThe medical care, medications, and frequent travel expenses to the hospital, have also been a strain on the Bisson family and the bills continue to flow in.  To help ease some of their burden, and to allow more of their energy to go into supporting Ashley’s recovery, we have created a GoFundMe page to ask for your help.  All donations, small or large, will help Ashley continue to get the best possible medical care in addition to helping with the steep medical bills that have already accumulated.

Funds collected will go directly to Ashley’s medical expenses and continued treatment.  Please share the link on your Facebook and Twitter pages to show support of Ashley.  Thank you again for all of your prayers, love and support!  Contact Maddie Wood: 491-4835 or Jayden Bisson: 210-9855 to get a shirt or bracelet if unable to attend meet.

#AshleySTRONG.  http://www.gofundme.com/ashleybissonstrong

Job Shadows via the Workplace Learning Connection

workplaceApplications are due this Friday, September 11,  for Job Shadows through the Workplace Learning Connection.  Job shadows are either half-day or full-day opportunities for students to shadow a career of their choosing.  Students can complete one job shadow a semester starting their sophomore year.  Every 10-12th grade student at Kennedy attended an assembly about Job Shadows already this year and were shown how to sign up.  Because they are immensely valuable to students, it is Kennedy’s goal to get every student to complete at least one job shadow before they graduate.

You can view the potential job shadow careers here.  As you can see, this program is for ALL students as they offer a very wide variety of opportunities. Information and applications can be found here.  The program’s website is http://www.workplace-learning.com.  Juniors and seniors are also encouraged to explore WLC Internships as well.

Get Your Cougar Socks, Support Kennedy Dance

CaptureThe Kennedy Dance Team is selling Nike Elite socks!  There are 4 options to choose from and all have the Kennedy logo on them (see attached PDF for color options), including a breast cancer awareness pair.  Each pair sells for $18 and they come in adult and youth sizes.  Forms can be found above the senior bench and outside Coach Arends’ room, 103.  All forms and payment are due by Sat. Sept. 12; checks are written to Kennedy Dance Team.  Show your Cougar Spirit and order your socks today!!  Order forms are located here.

Open House is Monday, September 14

Get Ready, Parents!!  Open House is coming!  Open House is a great opportunity to learn about Kennedy High School, meet the teachers, and more.  This year we will be offering Canvas Training Sessions for parents who want to learn more about how to use Canvas to monitor their child’s progress.  Open House begins at 6:30 in the Auditorium with brief presentation from me, the PTA, the Foundation for Performing Arts, and the Booster Club.  We then move into the building where you are free to meet any or all of your child’s teachers.  Be sure to bring a copy of your child’s schedule (or use the PowerSchool app).  Canvas Sessions will be at 7:00 and 7:30.  Locations will be posted.  See you there!

Coats for Kids is Here

Kennedy is a drop-off location for Coats for Kids.  Thousands of individuals in Eastern Iowa are in need of a warm winter coat. To serve this need, KCRG-TV9 volunteers and our Show You Care sponsors work to collect and distribute new and gently used coats each fall. Coats in sizes infant through adult are donated at locations throughout Eastern Iowa, collected and cleaned by Citywide Cleaners in Cedar Rapids, and are then distributed to the children who need them by area family service organizations and volunteers. Through our 25 years of collecting and distributing Coats For Kids, many more kids will stay warm each winter as a result of the generosity of our communities.  You can drop off coats in the main lobby area.  Also students are competing by homeroom for the most coats donated, so feel free to send your coats with your child to school.  Please contribute whatever you can.

Recommended Reading

For those of you new to the Chat, I often will provide some articles I found interesting.  I do not necessarily agree with them, but I found them to be good food for thought.  If you ever have an article you would like me to share, shoot me an email!

Best and Brightest – And Saddest? (New York Times, 4/11/15)

How To Ruin Your Relationship with Your Teenager (Scarymommy.com, Blog Post)

Are You Listening to Your Kids? (Huffington Post, 2/16/15)

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, Sept. 8 – School Board Elections

Wednesday, Sept. 9 – Homecoming Parade 5:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 11 – Homecoming Game 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 12 – Homecoming Dance 7:30 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 14 – Kennedy Open House 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 16 – Early Dismissal 12:20 p.m.

Cougar Chat: Summer Edition

The school year wrapped up nicely.  We had a lovely Commencement ceremony on May 28 with some absolutely excellent speeches from our graduating seniors.  All of them can be found on the Kennedy Facebook page and on our YouTube Channel.  We were so proud of the achievements of the Class of 2015 and we wish them the very best!

There is much to be aware of this summer and I have compiled a checklist of items to help you prepare for the upcoming school year.

1. School Schedule –  The 2015-16 Bell Schedules are on the Kennedy Website.  The school day will return to the normal start and end times we used last year.  Zero hour will return to a 7:00 AM start, first period will begin at 7:55 and 6th period will end at 2:45.  We will be reducing the length of SMART Lunch by 10 minutes to add some time back into class, creating 52-minute class periods.  We will start SMART Lunch on September 8.

One schedule you will see on our website is called “Advisory Homeroom.” We will run these days the first two weeks of school, except for August 27 on which we will hold our  Fall Pep Assembly. We will also run Advisory Homerooms intermittently throughout the year.  These 30-minute periods will be counted for attendance on the days we hold them.  We will cover important topics during these times, like instruction on study skills, college application processes, bullying, and the like.

Remember, the first day of school, August 24,  is an early dismissal and there is no school on September 4th and 7th.

2. SMART Lunch Release – As we did last year, we will allow junior and senior students to leave campus during lunch under specific conditions.  We need parent support in this process to ensure that SMART Lunch is utilized by students as it is designed.  Seniors and juniors must have a signed Lunch Release Waiver on file by their parents to be allowed release.  Second, they must have a SMART Lunch Release sticker.  In order to earn a sticker, students must maintain grades of C or better in all classes.  We will provide stickers the second week of school for student’s new IDs based on last year’s term three grades.  Students who did not qualify can have a sticker added on September 28 if their grades meet the requirements. We will then reset the stickers on October 26 and January 25 for all students based on grades. The same process will occur during second semester with stickers added on March 3rd  and reset for all students on March 28.

It is important that we hold students to this requirement to ensure that students who need additional time for academics are utilizing that time.  We ask that parents do not sign students out during SMART Lunch for the purpose of eating out when the student does not qualify under the school policy.  We have found a VERY positive correlation between students who remained on campus and attended tutorials and grade improvement.  Thank you for your support!

3. Summer Mailing – Every year, Kennedy has mailed home dozens of sheets of paper containing information about the next school year.  In order to reduce the amount of waste this produces, we will be putting all summer mailing documents and information on our website.  When the summer mailing is ready, we will send every family a postcard with the link to these documents.  For those without internet access, there will be instructions for requesting a paper copy of the summer mailing.  Our goal is to provide you with the information and forms you need without wasting resources.

4. Parking – We went around and around about parking last year, looking at a variety of issues and solutions.  Ultimately, every solution created more problems than it solved.  In turn, we have decided not to make major changes to the way parking is distributed.  The south parking lot will continue to be open to any junior or senior who registers their vehicle for it.  We will allow seniors and juniors the opportunity to reserve space in the church lots first and then open them to sophomores and juniors.  This year, we will be using an electronic form (online) to eliminate the need for lines outside of school at 5:00 AM.  The form will open at a specific time on a specific date and students can reserve their place in line electronically.  They will then have 2 days to come in and pay for their reserved spot.  After two days, we will move down the list and allow those students or their parents to come in and pay for a space until we are out of spaces.  Details will be included in the summer mailing.

5. Freshman Welcome – Mark Your Calendars, Freshman Parents!  Our Freshman Welcome is Thursday, August 20!  Students should plan to arrive at 12:30.  We have a fun day planned with a scheduled walkthrough of the building, presentations from upperclassmen, the Freshman Class Photo, a pizza party and more.  Following the Freshman Weclome event, there will be a Freshman Parent/Student meeting in the Auditorium at 5:30.  All parents are invited to attend.

6. Social Media Connect – Don’t forget to follow Kennedy on Twitter (@crkennedyhigh and @crcougars) and Facebook (www.fb.com/crkennedyhigh).  We provide a lot of up to the minute information via those sites.

Have a GREAT SUMMER and GO Cougars!


Spring Into Success

The year is flying by. We finally are getting some nice weather.  And we know the year is coming to a quick end when you are sending out information about graduation.  We are about 40 school days away from Commencement.  It is truly amazing how fast this year has gone. We are in the midst of the schedule change we had to implement due to the snow days this year.  It is not the most ideal situation, but I am glad that students are able to get a little more instructional time, especially as we head into the AP preparation time of year.  Speaking of AP, we had a very good registration for AP exams.  Very proud that over 560 Kennedy students have registered for nearly 1100 AP exams!  This is a statistic that would blow the mind of most high school principals, yet at Kennedy it is the norm.

Our students stand up and make an effort to take on challenging courses. We have much to also celebrate in so many academic, artistic, and athletic endeavors.  Our Show Choirs finished up an amazing season at Washington’s Mo Show.  Our Academic Decathlon Team took first place in the Super Quiz event at the State Decathlon and placed third overall.  And our Boys’ Basketball Team finished a great season at the State Tournament. I also want to highlight a few incredible individual achievements.  We have a lot of amazing students at Kennedy that, every day, do really great things for our community.

Sometimes I learn about really bold acts of giving, like one of our students who bought dinner for a homeless man at a local fast food restaurant.  Only because he was wearing a Kennedy Swim jacket did the story end up on my desk. Another student, freshman Cameron Waldrep, also did something pretty amazing.  Cameron is a powerlifter and participated in an event called Relentless.  This powerlifting event was a fundraiser for Hope Kids, which is an organization that supports children with cancer and other life-threatening conditions.  Cameron completed a Squat of 402.25lbs, a Bench Press of 248 lbs and a Deadlift of 418.75. He totaled 1069 lbs.  The event itself raised $228,000 for Hope Kids!  I am so proud of Cameron’s dedication to lifting and his willingness to work hard for the benefit of others.

A big shout out to junior Morgan Stangl who has won a fully-paid trip to learn in China this summer.  Morgan was awarded a Naitonal Secuirty Language Institute for Youth scholarship that will pay for her to study Chinese language in Shanghai, China for 6 weeks.  This is an incredible opportunity.  We are so proud of Morgan’s hard work to earn this honor and of the Chinese program at Kennedy for continuing to open doors for students.

IMG_0771We also have a national science superstar at Kennedy!  Junior Sweta Sudhir won the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair for her project entitled “Drosophila: A New Model for Studying Nuclear Actin.” Sweta now will move onto the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, May 10-15, in Pittsburgh! This is a huge honor as Sweta will compete with 1,700 entries out of 7 million who presented in regional fairs around the world.

Her research examined the differences in length and frequency of the nuclear GFP-Actin rods produced by the expression of Actin-5C, −42A, and −57B during Drosophila oogenesis. This research also attempts to study how the cellular stress of aging impacts the formation of nuclear GFP-Actin rods produced by the three proteins. As nuclear actin rods are likely to be similarly formed and regulated in all contexts, these studies will help provide a better understanding of the role of nuclear actin rods in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.  We are incredibly proud of Sweta and her hard work!
11082517_551167671692028_6139524341705958486_nWe are also quite proud of our Activities Director and Associate Principal, Mr. Aaron Stecker.  This weekend Mr. Stecker was named President of the Iowa High School Athletic Director Association.  Mr. Stecker has been an amazing leader at Kennedy and now will lead athletic directors throughout the state.  We are so proud of how much he has accomplished and continues to do for Kennedy.
One issue that we are working on is the parking problem.  As anyone who drives at Kennedy knows, we have too few parking spaces for too many drivers.  We have had this problem for many years, but it has reached a level now that warrants discussion of new approaches to providing access to parking.  We will be holding an open forum on the parking situation on April 13th at 6:30 PM in the Cafeteria.  The school’s administration will present information on the problem and offer several possible solutions.  The goal will be to get feedback from parents, students, and other interested members of the community.  Please join us.
We also have a new event this year for our students: The Summer Job Fair.  We have invited dozens of local employers to Kennedy on April 13 to set up booths in our West Gym.  Students will have the chance to visit with these potential employers and even interview for jobs with some of them.  We hope this becomes a regular tradition for the school, providing our students with a leg up in procuring summer work.
This Saturday, come out to Kingston Stadium for the 33rd Annual Draxton-Stiers/Wilkinson Co-Ed Track and Field Invitational. This JV/Varsity event has always produced great early season performances by some of the best high school track & field athletes in Eastern Iowa. Field events start at 10:30 am with track events to start at 11:30 am.
CaptureI would be remiss to forget to give a big CONGRATS to junior Sean Wu and Ms. Dana Melone.  Together they created a video entitled “What Teachers Do On Half Days” for our Pep Assembly.  The video, which features members of our faculty dancing through the building to the song Uptown Funk, has gone viral on Facebook with nearly 500,000 people seeing the post.  You can see the video here.
The Spring Musical is Coming
NWIYCGI2aOver 80 Kennedy students are working hard in rehearsal for the spring musical, Nice Work if You Can Get It, the Tony award- winning musical set to the tunes of George and Ira Gershwin. It’s the Roaring Twenties and a cast of outrageous characters gather in New York to celebrate the wedding of wealthy playboy Jimmy Winter. But things don’t go as planned when the playboy meets Billie Bendix, a bubbly and feisty bootlegger who melts his heart. NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT is filled to the brim with classic songs, including “But Not For Me,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “I’ve Got a Crush on You” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” This sparkling, madcap tale combines laughter, romance and high-stepping Broadway magic for an evening bursting with girls, glamour and the glorious songs of Gershwin!  The show runs April 23-25 with shows nightly at 7 PM and a 2:00 matinee on Saturday the 25th as well.  Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased online or at the box office prior to the show.
Students to Learn from Heroes
On April 15, a dozen Kennedy student-leaders will be participating in an event sponsored by the University of Iowa.  They will learn from military veterans about what it takes to be a leader.  The program describes “The personal journeys of Taylor Morris, Danielle Kelly and Bobby Henline will challenge students to rethink how leadership is defined, what it means to lead by example and how mental attitude can overcome adversity.”  The event begins at 10:30 AM at the Veteran’s Memorial Building on Mays Island and is open to the public.  Anyone wishing to attend is asked to register here in advance. 
Congratulations to the PTA Reflections Winners
PTA reflectionsThe Parent-Teacher Association of Iowa offers the PTA Reflections Contest, which allows students from all grades to submit pieces of art in a variety of media.  This year, Kennedy had seven students earn recognition!  Congratulations to our PTA Reflections winners!

Dance Choreography:

Sweta Sudhir -1st

Christine Tygart – 2nd


Elaine Leigh Irvine – 2nd

Halle Anne Rittgers – 3rd

Visual Arts:

Kelsey Jean Bills – 1st

Hannah Ruth Meyer – 3rd

Franklin Gerald Lisk – Honorable Mention

Torch Students Visit KCRG

torch at KCRGStudent journalists from Kennedy Torch visited KCRG-TV on Feb. 19 to learn about broadcast journalism. Sophomores Brant Barnhart, Rowan Bergen, Emily Sass, Brooke Timmerman, and juniors Abby Donovan, Elianna Novitch, and Xander Riley participated in a brainstorming session, story planning meeting, and toured the station. Students also visited with news anchors and meteorologists.

“It takes a lot of work to keep a station up and running,” Riley said. “We saw how professional journalists decide what stories they will run that night and how a broadcast gets thought out and put together.” Donovan plans to use techniques she learned from the story meetings. “They tend to pick up story ideas within two hours of their deadline,” she said.  Novitch said networking with professionals opened for her “some things to consider for my future.”

Parents of Seniors: A Reminder

Don’t forget to get your ‘baby’ and ‘recent’ pictures in of your senior to Ms.Baber for the “Then and Now” Slideshow.  This will be played at graduation prior to the ceremony starting.  Email kennvision@gmail.com two pictures, one a ‘baby’ or ‘child’ picture and one a picture that is recent (though not necessarily their ‘senior picture’).  Be sure to name the baby picture file “lastnamefirstnamebaby” and the recent picture “lastnamefirstnamecurrent” so that we can make sure the pictures go together on the slideshow.  These are due no later than MAY 6, but it would be wonderful if you could get them in as early as possible so that we can get started on the video.

If you do not have pictures that you can send electronically, your child can drop off pictures at the main office (Ms. Wery) in an envelope (with the child’s name on it) and we will scan them for you.

Parents, we will not be able to send out personalized reminders about this. If we do not receive pictures for your child, they will not be included in the Slideshow.  PLEASE be sure to get us pictures by MAY 6.

Also, remind your senior to sign up for the “Senior Thank You Video” that opens our graduation ceremony.

Kennedy Cancer Awareness Soccer Events

Cancer Awareness T-shirts arenow on sale.  The order form is due TODAY, Monday, 4/13 for the Cancer Awareness game vs. Linn Mar on 4/23.
You can also Support the Kennedy Girls soccer team and purchase a memory or honor ribbon at $1.00 each which will be displayed at the Cancer Awareness game vs. Linn Mar on 4/23.  Talk to  a soccer player or stop in Mrs. Hellweg’s room to purchase them.  All proceeds from the memory/honor ribbons will be donated the Hall Perrine, Hope Fund!  As part of this as well, I will be offering up the opportunity to students to tape me the wall on the patio for $1 per piece of duct tape on April 22 during SMART Lunch.  Should be fun!

Recommended Reading

I am only listing one today because I actually felt it should be a mandatory read.  I don’t fully agree with it, but I think the concept is wholly worth discussing.

In the Name of College: What Are We Doing to Our Children? (Huffington Post, 3/21/15)

Upcoming Events

Saturday, April 11 – All-City Music Contest

Saturday, April 18 – ACT Test Date; State Solo/Ensemble Contest

Tuesday, April 21 – PTA 11:30 a.m.

Thursday, April 23 through Friday April 25 – Spring Musical


The Cougar Pride

Term two is quickly coming to an end and with it comes the end of winter activities.  We have much to celebrate at Kennedy this winter with our students excelling in so many different ways.  The end of the term also means that exams are coming soon!  Because of the snow days we have had, we will have school on March 5th.  Exams will be held on March 4th and 5th and will follow this schedule:

Wednesday, March 4

7:55 – 9:10                  1st hour

9:20 – 10:35               2nd hour

10:45 – 12:00             3rd hour

12:05 – 1:25               Smart Lunch Bus Riders Depart @ 12:50 Grab-n-Go Lunches

1:30 – 2:45                 0 hour

Thursday, March 5

7:55 – 9:10                  4th hour

9:20 – 10:35               5th hour

10:45 – 12:00             6th hour

12:05 – 1:25               Smart Lunch Bus Riders Depart @ 12:15 – Grab-n-Go Lunches

1:30 – 2:45                 7th hour

It is extremely important for students to perform their very best on these exams as they make up a significant portion of the term grade.  Parents are also encouraged to review their child(ren)’s grades with them on PowerSchool this week to make sure they have completed all of their work.  Parents are reminded that there are significant opportunities for additional support and help both during SMART Lunch and before and after school.  Please contact your child’s teacher if you have questions about how he or she can best prepare.

ExamThe first three days of the week following exams will be Iowa Assessments.  These tests are completed by all 9, 10, and 11th graders.  We will be testing from 7:55 AM to 9:55 AM Monday the 9th, Tuesday the 10th, and Wednesday the 11th.  These tests are extremely valuable in providing individual students with a picture of their educational progress.  They are also helpful in providing the school a means to see how our programs are impacting learning.  As well, we will continue to offer our incentive program for good attendance during IA Assessments.  New this year we will be offering students the opportunity to enter into a raffle, a ticket for each day present during Assessments, for amazing prizes!  Twelfth grade students should report to school by 9:55 for 1st period.  We will run a “Late-Start Schedule” following the assessments each day.

A reminder to parents that AP Exam registration closes March 6th.  Students need to be fully registered for exams by this date. As we have explained to students, we recommend students with a C or better average in an AP class should strongly consider taking the exam.  We also reminded students that those with financial need should let Ms. Richey (srichey@cr.k12.ia.us) know as we have funds to help students who need assistance paying for exams.  No student should not take an AP exam because of the cost.  For more information on how to register for AP Exams, please visit: https://sites.google.com/site/crkennedyap/home/ap-exam-information.


Nolan Hromidko

We had a lot to celebrate this past week at Kennedy. First, a major shout-out to our wrestlers who competed in the IHSAA State Wrestling Tournament.  Freshman Ben Sarasin and Junior Dalles Jacobus both advanced to the 2nd consolation round matches on Friday and lost hard-fought battles against very good opponents.  Meanwhile, junior Nolan Hromidko advanced to the 3rd place match at the tournament, losing a 4-3 decision and taking 4th place overall.  Special congratulations to coaches Dennis Hynek, Craig Mallicoat, and Nick LeClere for a job well done this season.

Our Robotics Team, the CougarBots, had a great Saturday, placing first to allow them to advance to the State Tournament March 6 and 7 in Iowa City.  This is a return trip to States for our team and we are excited to see how they fair.  A big thanks to first-year coach Ms. Lorymar Vargas for her hard work with the team. This weekend as well nine teams of Kennedy Speech students competed at the All-State Large Group Festival in Ames.  Kennedy had tremendous performances and this was a great end to the Large Group season.  Speech moves onto District Individual Events this weekend.  Good luck!

happiness_6Our Show Choirs also had a superb weekend at the Great River Competition in Davenport.  Protégé took 2nd Runner Up in the Prep Division while Happiness, Inc. placed 2nd Runner Up in the Varsity division.  Also, junior Keanna Knutson won Best Female Soloist, which earns her full tuition to the Show Choir Camps of America program this summer!  Now this weekend is YOUR chance to see Happiness, Protégé, Chanteurs, and a slew of highly talented programs from around the region here at Kennedy.  It’s Raise the Roof and it is going to be huge!!  Chanteurs performs at 11:20, Happiness at 6:00 and Protégé at 7:15.  A complete schedule can be found here.   Stop by and check out the amazing event that is Raise the Roof!  One tip: Parking is an issue.  Get here early!

Tuesday, Kennedy Girls’ Basketball played host to Cedar Falls for the regional final game.  It was probably one of the best high school regional final games in some time and definitely one we will not forget.  In the very last second, with the game tied, Cedar Falls scored and took the lead.  With less than one second left, we couldn’t get the ball down the court and unfortunately couldn’t return the score.  The team didn’t make it to State this year, but it was a heck of a good effort and a great season overall.  We are so proud of what Coach Tony Vis and his team put together.  Thank you, girls, for a great season of basketball.  Our Boys’ Basketball team plays this Friday night at Kennedy in the 2nd round of Substate basketball vs. Cedar Falls. Game time is 7:00 PM and we need a massive crowd to help

Let’s get ready for exams, everyone!  And as always, Go Cougars!

Government Requirement for Rising Seniors

Government has been a required course for graduation in CRCSD for many, many years.  Under the current trimester system, the course is broken into two parts, Government 1 and Government 2.  Government 1 is a class that is focused on the Federal government, and Government 2 focused on local and state government.  There has been a tradition in CRCSD of allowing students who take a course called Personal Law to substitute the course for the Government 2 course that is taken during senior year.  With the implementation of semesters, Government 1 and 2 are being combined into a single course called Government.  As a consequence, the Personal Law exemption will no longer work as Government 2 is no longer a class.

US Capitol DomeHowever, there was a special allowance for the past few years, which gave students enrolled in AP Micro/Macroeconomics the opportunity to only take one of the two Government classes.  This resulted in students being able to avoid Government 1 and Government 2 if they also had taken Personal Law as a freshman.  The Social Studies curriculum development team and the district’s instructional team all agreed this was not appropriate if our goal is to provide students with civics education.  And I believe strongly that if we are to have a strong democracy, we need civics education.  In turn, we decided to require that all seniors complete the new combined Government class.

In the process of registration, it has come to my attention that a number of current juniors who had planned on not having to take Government were forced to change their planned schedule to make this accommodation work.  Our initial response was to make Government available during the summer via our online offerings.  Recognizing how busy some of our students are in the summer, we have decided to exempt current juniors (class of 2016) from the Government course requirement if they have a) successfully completed Personal Law previously and b) successfully complete AP Micro/Macroeconomics during their senior year.  This exemption will only apply to current juniors.  All other students will be required to take the Government course as a graduation requirement regardless of whether they have taken Personal Law or AP Micro/Macroeconomics.

I strongly encourage students who meet the requirements for exemption, but have room in their schedule, take Government.  It is vital that students are aware of how our Republic functions when they are entrusted with the right to vote.  Students who meet the requirement for exemption and want to change their schedule should make this change during the April registration verification period.

Speaker Encourages Taking a Stand Against Bullying

kfFvjTEENNCo_Iys8mbaLast week, our freshman class was treated to an assembly with guest speaker Jamie Utt.  Mr. Utt is a nationally renowned speaker on diversity and bullying and came to share his message with our students through a program organized by several Kennedy students.  Our freshman class was offered the opportunity to stand up and declare that they will be the force that ends bullying, harassment, and other forms of putting people down today as Jamie Utt talked to them about his experiences with bullying in high school. I am proud to say that every one of our freshmen stood up!!  It was a very special moment.  I know that we have a ways to go  as a country, a community, and a school to eradicate bullying, but I am confident that steps like these are ones in the right direction. Thank you to Diversity Focus and the Youth Leadership Program for bringing Jamie to our students.

Kennedy Science Roadshow Impresses Franklin Middle School Students

B-J5Vb5CAAAwgaPLast week, students from Kennedy traveled to Franklin Middle School as part of the Kennedy Science Roadshow.  This team of students provides demonstrations and experiments that help capture the interest of middle school students.  The goal is to increase interest in science exploration.  It is definitely a great time to gain an interest in science and computers as those fields continue to explode with career opportunities.  I want to thank Ms. Steinmetz for her dedication to this project and to all of the students who participated.

Mr. Cougar Contest Is Coming

Get ready, Kennedy, a new tradition is born: the Mr. Cougar Contest!  This ‘pageant’ is a fundraiser for the senior class and will prove to be an amazing show.  On March 9 at 7:00 PM, eight seniors will vie for the title of “Mr. Cougar” in a classic showdown: Formal Wear, Lounge Wear, Q and A, and Lip Sync Battle.  Special thanks to Tanner Stewart, Sam Hanzelka, Hunter Shoenauer, Matt Morrow, Terrence Hall, Jason Grobstitch, Ryan Walker, and Kendall Dooley for their willingness to try this new event.  Tickets are only $5 and the audience will vote on the winner!  This should be a ‘magical’ evening for all!

College and Career Fair is March 10 at Marion High School

All high school students are invited to the Workplace Learning Connection’s Planning For Your Future 2015 College and Career Fair.  It takes place March 10 from 6:30 to 8:00 at Marion High School.  Dozens of businesses and colleges, technical schools, and other institutions of higher learning will be on hand.  Plus there are seminars on topics like planning for scholarships and application tips.  Contact Mariann Ryan at mariann.ryan@kirkwood.edu or call 319-398-4829 for more information.

Recommended Reading

I do not endorse, but I do find these articles interesting.  Enjoy.

Take Five Steps to Find an Internship During High School (U.S. News and World Report, 2-16-15)

The Three Most Important Questions You Can Ask Your Teenager (Huffington Post, 1-20-15)

Upcoming Events

Saturday, February 28 – Raise the Roof – Kennedy; District Speech – Tipton

Wednesday, March 4 – Final Exams (0-3rd hour)

Thursday, March 5 – Final Exams (4th-7th hour); WPA Dance – 8:00 p.m. – KHS Cafeteria

Friday, March 6 – No School – Staff Development

Saturday, March 7 – Honor Orchestra Concert – Kennedy; NEIBA Jazz Contest

Monday – Wednesday, March 9 – 11 – Iowa Assessment Testing

Thursday, March 12 – Harding/Kennedy Orchestra Concert – 7 p.m. – KHS Auditorium

Saturday, March 14 – Mo Show @ Washington HS; State Individual Speech @ Kennedy


Accomplishments and Awards

It has been a very busy few weeks and I apologize for such a delay to the Cougar Chat.  I have been so engrossed with so many student accomplishments, I lost track of the weeks.  As a principal, it is always fun to hear about students’ achievements outside of the classroom in artistic, academic, and athletic endeavors.  What is most rewarding to me, however, is seeing so many of our students participating in these activities.  We have such a diverse group of talented students who put in so many hours of practice and preparation, most of whom do not get put into the limelight.  Bravo to all of you who make the effort to expand yourself on Kennedy’s many teams.

2015_picture AD

2015 Kennedy Academic Decathlon

Our Academic Decathlon team competed in the regional contest at Jefferson last weekend and took 3rd Place which allowed them to advance to the State competition in March.  Decathlon requires some of the most rigorous academic work for students, including a major literary work, studying art, learning social science, economics, science, and math content, and giving a variety of public speeches.  The team must have a variety of students with high, middle, and lower GPAs and requires students to become proficient in ten events.  Team members are:  Tianyi Han, Abhinaya Guasekar, Abby Hellweg, Jacob Hoefer, Jacob Aspinall, Josh Lyman, Brian Feld, Claire Jackson, Coleton Whitmore, Michael Ciabatti, Austin Wu and Linden Runels.  We wish them luck at State!

B9RnBk0CEAEWCGtThe Cougar Men’s Swim Team took 4th at the District Swim Meet at Linn-Mar on Saturday — but that is only the beginning of what the guys accomplished…
Team qualified in 8 of 11 events, set 4 new school records, had 100% time improvements -dropping a team total time of 157.31 seconds…an average of 3.7 seconds per swim and..9 additions/changes to the Top 10 best times in Kennedy history.  State Qualifiers include:

200 Medley Relay: Brennan Urbi, Stefan Kitsos, Cade Schoenauer and Evan Bednar NEW SCHOOL RECORD & seeded 12th

200 Free: Brady Gibson, seeded 19th

200 IM: Stefan Kitsos, seeded 14th

50 Free: Brennan Urbi, set a NEW SCHOOL RECORD & is seeded 3rd ALSO Cade Schoenauer, seeded 22nd

100 Fly: Cade Schoenauer, seeded 21st

100 Free: Brennan Urbi, seeded 7th

200 Free Relay: Stefan Kitsos, Brady Gibson, Cade Schoenauer and Brennan Urbi NEW SCHOOL RECORD & seeded 7th

100 Breaststroke: Stefan Kitsos, set a NEW SCHOOL RECORD & is seeded 5th

In addition, the coaching staff was recognized as the IHSSCA District Coaching Staff of the year.  Congrats and good luck this weekend in Marshalltown at State!

IMAG0398Meanwhile, our Robotics Team, the CougarBots, competed at Rockwell-Collins on Saturday in the League Championship and captained the final round match (which was quite a feat to qualify for!) and won the PTC Design Award.  They will compete February 21st for their chance at the State Tournament.  A great season for them and rookie coach Ms. Lorymar Vargas.  Go CougarBots!

Our artists also have had some success in these past weeks.  Congratulations go out to the following art students whose pieces won Honorable Mentions for the KCCK- CD cover design competition: Taylor Sauser, Kelsey Bills, Elektra Noble, Hannah Meyer, Franklin Lisk, Madeline Bany, and Aubree Langhurst.  The  Honorable Mentions will all be exhibited during Corridor Jazz Project Concert, April 6 and 7 at Sinclair Auditorium, Coe College. As well, twenty-six of our art students’ artwork were selected for the Mercy Hospital Student Art Display in the month of February! Check it out when you are in the neighborhood- the show features drawings, computer graphics, photography and design.

image2Our Science Bowl Team of Georg Qi,  Renee Mittelberg, Tianyi Han,  Lynna Liao  and Danny Rosenthal had a great outing at ISU, winning their preliminary division and placing 7th overall in the tournament out of over 40 schools.  This competition features rigorous questions about all branches of science.  We are proud of their hard work and thankful to them for representing Kennedy so well.  On the same front,IMG_0378 our Brain Bee Team scored big at the state competition at the Unviersity of Iowa.  Eight Kennedy students out of approximately 35 high school students participated.  Alicia Hayes-Kerr was the winner ($750 toward the national competition), Arshi Munjal was second ($250), and Ethan Williams was third ($150).  A sweep of the top three for Kennedy!  As well, Arshi also won the University of Iowa Darwin Days Poster Contest.

Our Debate Team had a nice showing as well, with our Public Forum Debate team of Mira Hemaiden and Afnan Elsheikh finishing in the semi-finals of the Iowa City Classic.  And then there is Speech.  Kennedy has a long-standing tradition of excellence in Speech and this year was no different.  Congratulations to Coach Osborn and her entire staff.  At the district tournament, 92 students competed, earning 18 Division One ratings.  Those performances moved onto State and the following teams earned Division One ratings and All-State performances are indicated as well:

Category Title Participants
Ensemble Acting Goldilocks on Trial Amanda Barrett, Sam Bennett, Andres Davila, Alexis Green, Anna Mickelson, James Tolly
Musical Theatre Aladdin Maia Bennett, Lauren Kiesey, Mikah Lunsford, Nathan Schulte, Rizwan Sidhu, Brennan UrbiALL-STATE
Group Improvisation Urbi Adam Burstain, Nathan Schulte, Brennan UrbiALL-STATE
Choral Reading Saved These Words Grant Barton, Nicole Casey, Emilee Caldbeck, Maggie Curry, Jason Grobstich, Abhinaya Gunasekar, Myah McCoy, Nick Middlekauff, Amelia Miller, Kylie Parker-Goldberg, Logan Reed, Rachel Reed, Sweta Sudhir, Kim Skoog, Adam WalkerALL-STATE
One Act A Raisin in the Sun Alex Bibbs, Kendall Dooley, Afnan Elsheikh, Fatima Elsheikh, Christian Malcolm, Kyle Minor, Tony Curry, Cathia LightfootALL-STATE
Short Film Nature Dayquan Sims, Julia McDowell, Nick Middlekauff, Zayla MackrellALL-STATE
Radio Broadcasting Where? Where? Don’t Tell Me Josh Beck, Madi Beauchamp, Corey Caldbeck, Kendra Cullinan, Trystyn Short
Group Improvisation Marner Mikah Lunsford, Caleb Marner, Rizwan SidhuALL-STATE
Musical Theatre Footloose Adam Burstain, Cameron Currie, Kari Dummermuth, Bryant Jasper, Kylie Parker-Goldberg, Nina YuALL-STATE
Musical Theatre Annie Alexis Green, Celia Gibson, Erin Grams, Claire Ottemoeller, Rachel Tischer
Ensemble Acting Amicable Parting Jason Grobstich and Anabelle GustALL-STATE
Musical Theatre South Pacific Elizabeth Barrett, Moira Green, Kourtney Holzer, Haleigh Houston, Jayden Lovell, Michael Shea
Group Mime Doctor’s Visit Brandon Koch, Connor Peterson, Dane Popenhagen
Short Film I am Beautiful Jamie Milota, Khadidja Elkeurti, Micaylee Stumbo, Tasneem Sadok, Vincie Fan
Ensemble Acting Greater Tuna Grant Barton, Corey Caldbeck, Caleb Marner, Elianna Novitch, Dane Popenhagen, Oather TaylorALL-STATE

196411A special congratulations is in order for one of our faculty memebers: Ms. Darlene Ketelsen will be inducted this month into the Walhert High School athletic Hall of Fame.  Ms. Ketelsen was a star golfer for Walhert, winning four state titles on their golf team!  She currently teaches in our Special Education department and is one of our girls’ golf coaches.  Congratulations to Ms. Ketelsen!

We also cannot forget performing arts! Our varsity show, Happiness, Inc. Traveled to Minnesota to participate in the Bloomington Gold Show Choir Compeititon.  They took 3rd place in the competition bandand won Best Band and Best Male Soloist (Nathan Schulte).  Our Wind Symphony was selected by the Iowa Bandmasters Association as the 4A Honor Band, the highest honor in the state.  They will perform in May.  Our Jazz Band also received division One ratings at the State Jazz Band Festival and a number of students performed with the ISU Honor Band this past weekend.

We honored seven seniors who signed to play collegiate sports next year. These students represent hard work and dedication both to their sport and their academic pursuits. Congratulations to:

Ryan Walker – Loyola – Soccer
Nikolas Newcamp – Colorado State-Colorado Springs – Soccer
Ross Grekoff – Iowa Central – Golf
Davis Sutton – Indian Hills – Golf
Blake Hargens – Southeastern – Baseball
Terrence Hall – Coe – Football
Sammy Lizarraga – Wabash Valley College – Baseball

Congratulations are also in order for several Kennedy students who entered the Cedar Rapids Area Optimist Club Essay Contest.  Sean Wu and Abinaya Gunasekar were named gold medalists and Sweta Sudhir was selected as the zone winner, which means she will go on to represent the club at the district level!  Congratulations!

We have so many amazing students here at Kennedy…it is always a great day to be a Cougar!

ONE Campaign Success

10360618_522380881237374_6415616810341079256_nThe Kennedy ONE Campaign is our main, school-wide service project, with a focus on getting students involved in helping end world hunger.  Each year, the ONE team raises funds that are spent to purchase food packs for the hunger in Haiti.  The main fundraiser, the Penny War, ends this Friday and has been a huge success thus far.  ONE T-Shirts are still on sale for $10, with each shirt providing money to feed 20 children.  You can order one through Mr. Carolin (dcarolin@cr.k12.ia.us) or buy one at tonight’s basketball games.

AP Registration is On

Registration for AP Tests will be ongoing through March 6, 2015.  Every year, over 1000 AP exams are taken by students at Kennedy; this year we are focussed on increasing that number.  A good rule of thumb for a student in an AP class is this: If you have a C average or higher in an AP class, you should consider taking the AP test.  Our AP course are extremely rigorous and for students to earn grades of C or above indicates they are likely ready for the AP test, with proper preparation on their part.  Don’t forget, we are also encouraging on-time registration by offering a drawing for “All AP Tests Paid” to one lucky winner.  Students get ‘tickets’ entered into the drawing based on the week they register (earlier = more tickets).  For more information, or to register online, click on the Kennedy AP Testing Page.

Makeup Days and Exams

Do not forget that we have school on Monday, February, 16 as a makeup for lost hours due to snow.  We will also have school on March 5th to make up hours.  Exams for term two will be March 4th and 5th. A schedule will be published shortly.

Post Prom Needs Parents

The Senior Prom is quickly approaching and your help is needed!  We need a few parents who students are either Seniors or Juniors to help with the planning of the Post Prom.  The Post Prom is a safe and fun event that has become an important part of Prom.  A general outline and other information on previous Post Prom events are available.  We have a few parents already committed to help but a few more will make the planning process much easier.  We are looking for both Senior and Junior parents to create some continuity from year to year.  Please consider helping with this important event. You can contact Stephanie Grovert (stephgrovert@msn.com ) or Karen Knox (k.knox@mchsi.com ) if you can help.

STEM Career Showcase

On February 24th, there will be a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Festival showcasing hundreds of careers at the Cedar Rapids Public Library from 4-8 PM.  The event will feature at least 20 exhibitors, including Rockwell Collins, the University of Iowa College of Engineering, Kirkwood Community College Continuing Education and Metro High School in Cedar Rapids.  We highly encourage students to attend these kinds of events.  For more information, students can see me.  If transportation is an issue we may be able to help.

Upcoming Events

Monday, February 16 – Cougar Talks – 6:15 PM – Black Box

Tuesday, February 17 – PTA Meeting – 11:30 AM – Black Box

Friday, February 20 – ISU Tall Corn Jaz Festival

Saturday, Debruary 21 – All-State Large Group Speech – ISU


Wintery Welcome Back

It is no doubt truly winter in Iowa now.  After that mild December, I am not sure I was ready for those temperatures again.  But we are back to school as best we can be with nearly every day last week disrupted by weather.  The forecast looks good for some consistent days of school, at least in the near future.  I hope you all enjoyed the winter break.  I spent a lot of time with my kids, which was very fun and relaxing.

B6627RUCAAAXkyKThis week has been an exciting one at Kennedy.  First, it was opening week for our Show Choirs with the Prairie Premiere Competition this weekend.  Even though our show choirs work through the summer and fall to prep, it is always a challenge to put together so much choreography and vocals in time.  Yet, as always, the Cougars shined.  Our 9th grade show choir, Chanteurs, won the 9th grade division.  Protege, our prep show choir, took second place in their division. And our very own Happiness, Inc. took 3rd place in the Varsity division, also winning Best Ballad and Best Tech Crew.  Needless to say it was a great start to a big season coming up.  The next competition is at the Linn-Mar Supernova on Saturday.  Chanteurs B7BVSNrCUAAg5uNperforms at 10:20, Protege at 1:30, and Happiness Inc. at 3:45.  Come on out and support Kennedy Show Choir!

Meanwhile, our Dance Team took to Minneapolis to participate in the Spirit of America Dance Competition against some of the best dance teams in the region.  What happened there was pure magic!  The girls won both their Pom and Jazz competitions! This is the first time in team history that the Dance Team has won both events!  The team works extremely hard all year for this. Congratulations to Coach Arends and the entire team on an amazing performance.  You can catch their routines throughout the winter sports season at home basketball games during halftime, including this Tuesday’s home game against Prairie.

Alicia Murphy

Alicia Murphy

We have much going on this week at Kennedy, especially during SMART Lunch.  On Tuesday, we will begin our Career Speaker Series in partnership with the Workplace Learning Connection, with talks from two local professionals Dave Dohrmann from DAD Manufacturing and Alicia Murphy from Van Meter.  They will discuss business careers, what it takes to make it in business today, and what students can do today to prepare for a career in business.  This will be held in the Auditorium during A tutorial.

Meanwhile, in room 220 on Tuesday, Counselors will be helping sophomores and juniors who took the PSAT this year utilize the My College Quick Start program, which is offered through the College Board.  All students who took the PSAT are encouraged to attend anytime during SMART Lunch.  This program is excellent because it uses each student’s unique test results to see their scores and their projected SAT score, review the questions they got wrong, practice for the SAT with hundreds of practice questions, save college searches, take a personality test to find majors and careers fit for them, and get feedback on their readiness for 20+ AP courses.

On Wednesday, our SMART Lunch Talks series continues with our first speaker of the year, Aaron Schulman, CEO of PhantomEFX.  Aaron will be sharing with students the ins and outs of the video game design industry, with a focus on providing students with the unique opportunity to learn from someone who has designed best-selling apps.  This is open to all students during tutorial A in the Auditorium.

On Friday, a panel of Kennedy alumni will be discussing careers in trades such as bricklaying, welding, and engine repair.  They will answer questions students might have about attending the Regional Center and allow students to learn first-hand what it takes to obtain one of these high paying jobs.  They will be in the Auditorium during SMART Lunch tutorial A.

On Thursday night, don’t forget to come out and enjoy some great music and delicious treats at the annual Dessert Concert.  It is at 7:00 PM in the Auditorium.  It is always an enjoyable evening.

Have a great week, Cougar Nation!

Semesters, Credits, and Registration…It’s Here!

You may have heard that things are going to be very different in Cedar Rapids Community School District next year.  The district has switched to semesters instead of trimesters for the 2015-16 school year and beyond.  This change warranted a complete overhaul of our course of study to make it fit into a semester system.  It also warrants a more extensive process for registration.  There are some things you can do to prepare for this change.

First, I highly recommend you take a look at the new Program of Studies for the District.  This book contains all of the courses offered in Cedar Rapids Community School District High Schools.  Some of the courses listed in the book are not offered at Kennedy.  When your child brings home their registration information, it will contain a list of the courses offered at Kennedy.

One significant change is that courses will no longer be worth 4 credits per term.  Instead, each semester of a course will be worth 1 credit.  This means that for the next three years, we will have students who have had credits under the current system and the new system.  This will undoubtedly cause confusion regarding how many credits a student needs to graduate.  The chart here helps to simplify that question.


On top of this, it should be noted that Physical Education is changing as well.  As of right now, students will take PE every day for one semester.  This will allow students to add an additional elective course in each year in the semester opposite of their PE class.  There will be no waivers (except for medical or religious) granted under this new system, and students in band and show choir will also have to take PE.  Online PE will only be available to students with a full schedule (no study halls) and Zero Hour and 7th Period PE will be offered as an option as well.

You probably have questions!  I would strongly encourage all parents to come out to Parent Curriculum Night on Wednesday, January 21st from 5:30 – 7:00 in the Auditorium.  We will discuss all of the changes, what the new Program of Study has to offer, and answer any questions you may have.

Registration will occur in waves by class,starting with the current juniors.  We are going to use SMART Lunch time rather than class time to complete the process and students are strongly recommended to do their course requests at home.  Meetings with counselors will occur by homeroom during SMART Lunch on designated weeks.  We will start with current Juniors, who will have their Class Registration Meeting on January 26th in the Auditorium during SMART Lunch A.  That week they will be to get their recommendations from their teachers and complete the registration online via PowerSchool.  The following week (February 2-6) students will go to an assigned computer lab to meet with counselors to review their selections.  This process will begin again for current sophomores on February 2nd, with a class meeting during SMART Lunch in the Auditorium.  Current freshman students will have their class meeting on February 9th during SMART Lunch in the Auditorium and begin their two week process.

Eat Chap for a Great Cause

CaptureYou can support the Kennedy Best Buddies Club by purchasing an Enjoy the City Coupon Book for $20.  This book contains coupons to 80 restaurants, including:  Blimpie, BBQ This, Chick-fil- A, Genghis Grill, 101 Gastropub, Vito’s, Nelson’s Meat Market, La Cantina, Great Harvest Bread Co, Papa Juan’s, Red Frog, Perkin’s, Zin’s, Casa Las Glorias, and many more.  There are also 25 entertainment/recreation coupons for places like: Westdale bowling, Science Center, Hawkeye Downs Speedway, Playstation, Potter’s Obsession, Collins Road Theatres, Lancer Lanes, Penguin’ Comedy Club, Area Golf Courses, and many more.  And 9 retail services coupons for: Jiffy Lube, Sports Clips, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Rental Car places, and many more.  Please email Ms. Mary Gibney if you would like to purchase a book and support the always awesome Best Buddies Club!

Feburary 16 is the First Make-up Date

Due to the loss of instructional hours last week, we will have a full day of school on Monday, February 16th.  Please plan accordingly.  As the district has switched to measuring school in hours rather than days, we will have to make up all hours missed, including two-hour delays.  We missed more than the equivalent of a single day of school last week, so more hours will need to be made up later on.  The district will announce those make-up hours.

Aspiring Artists: Apply for the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute

Oscar Howe’s artwork is a treasure and the University of South Dakota is pleased to have the opportunity to share his work with the next generation of artists during the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute (OHSAI), June 7-19, 2015.  The Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute (OHSAI) is open to high school students with a demonstrated interest in the visual arts and American Indian culture.  The Institute provides workshops for a group of talented and committed high school art students to learn about contemporary Native American Fine Arts with a focus on Native American culture, history and traditions.  All courses are taught by impressive professional artists and all accepted students attend free of charge, including meals, housing, instruction and art supplies. For more information, visit their website.

Politics for Girls

Girls, consider applying for the Running Start’s Young Women’s Political LYWPL WordPress Header Alteadership Program (YWPL), which introduces high school girls to the power of political leadership.  The program is open to high school girls entering 9th grade through those who will have just graduated in 2014. Our flagship program introduces 50 high school girls to the power of political leadership. This six-day retreat includes workshops led by experts in the field of public speaking, networking, fundraising, on-camera media training, and advocacy. Young women candidates and elected officials speak to the girls about what it is like to run as a young woman, how to get involved on a local level, and why they feel it is important to get more women elected. The goal of the program is to encourage the girls to channel their leadership into politics.  Visit their website for more information.

Upcoming Events

Thursday, January 15 – Dessert Concert, Auditorium 7:00 PM

Monday, January 19 – No School

Tuesday, January 20 – AP Scholar Assembly, Gym, 9:00 AM

Tuesday, January 20 – PTA Meeting, Black Box, 11:30 AM

Tuesday, January 20 – Midterm


Something In the Air

There is music in the air, that is for sure.  It seems like this time of year is always filled with the most wonderful opportunities to hear from our musicians.  One of the finer things about being the Principal of Kennedy is that I get to listen to so much musical talent in this school.  From our band to our orchestra, choruses to show choirs, Kennedy has so much incredible talent.  I often brag to my friends back in North Carolina about how much they are missing when it comes to music.  We really have great students, supportive parents, and above all, outstanding music teachers.

This Saturday is the always fun Cocoa and Carols concert.  This year will feature all three Kennedy Show Choirs plus performances from  a variety of middle and elementary show choirs.  There are three shows this year, with hot cocoa and cookies following each show.  Show times are 10, 1 and 4 on Saturday the 13th.  Come on out and support Kennedy vocal music.

11701_492304040911725_2052019192421411440_nNext Tuesday is the first annual Sounds of the Season Concert.  This concert will feature Kennedy vocal music, band, and orchestra in one concert plus a delicious catered dinner before!  The dinner is from LJ’s and features a buffet including chicken breast, roast beef, sides and desserts!  Tickets are $5 for the concert and $18 for the dinner and concert and can be purchased online.  For more information, call 319-423-9681.

And I don’t think I can say enough good things about our thespians, either.  They put on six Playtime Poppy shows, Honk Jr., all the while planning and executing an amazing Once Upon a Time Breakfast on Saturday morning.  The play was excellent and such fun for the little kids.  And the breakfast was not only delicious,Honk 7 but truly memorable.  Our theatre department is one-of-a-kind with such diverse talent on and off stage.  And our parents do such an incredible job decorating the cafeteria and Black Box for the breakfast.  Mr. Tolly told me he received numerous compliments about our students and how great they are.  And I agree.  I enjoyed watching our students entertain and take pictures with the small children. Bravo to this special group of students and thank you to Mr. Hayes, Mr. Tolly and all of our parents who made these events so much fun!

2-small_winter_pep25Speaking of fun, we held our Winter Pep Assembly last week and it was a blast.  As always, Mr. Stecker found ways to get the crowds going!  We celebrated our fall athletic season accomplishments, including football playoffs, volleyball playoffs, and a great swim season.  And we introduced our winter sport athletes and our show choir teams.  The always fun spirit stick competition was again the highlight of the day, with the junior class once again taking control of the stick.  Thanks to all of the students who demonstrated their love for Kennedy and class spirit in this event!

Get a Green Out Shirt for the Holidays

The Kennedy senior class has taken on a class project, building a Habitat for Humanity home. As part of the project, not only are students actually building the home, but they must raise money to officially be the sponsors of the home by the time graduation comes along. The purpose of this is to not only give back to the community in which we have been educated in and helping a family in need, but also to cross the stage knowing we have accomplished a great goal together, as one.

CaptureIn order to achieve this great goal, the senior class had this idea to promote school spirit at athletic events. They have designed the official GREEN OUT SHIRT!  These awesome Green Out Shirts are only available online and can be purchased for ALL of your Cougars for $10 each.  Click this link to order your shirts!!!

Also, you are able to make a tax deductible donation to the Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity to contribute to the Senior Class fund by contacting community@cvhabitat.org.

Kennedy Invited to Become an AP Capstone School

The College Board has invited Kennedy to become the first of two schools in Iowa to offer the new AP Capstone program for the 2015-2016 school year.  The program, according to the College Board, ” is an innovative diploma program that provides students with an opportunity to engage in rigorous scholarly practice of the core academic skills necessary for successful college completion.”  Students wishing to earn the AP Capstone Diploma must take two year-long courses, AP Seminar and AP Research during their junior and senior years.  The courses focus on developing the rigorous expectations of college-level research and require written product and, at the end of AP Research, an oral defense of the student’s thesis.  Completing both courses and passing four or more AP Exams will earn a student the AP Capstone Diploma.  An information session for students interested in considering this option will be held on December 18 during SMART Lunch (either tutorial) in the Black Box.  You can learn more here as well: http://goo.gl/009oky

Upcoming Class Meetings

We will be holding mandatory class meetings for Freshman and Sophomores in the coming week.  Please remind your child to attend.

Freshman – Thursday, December 11, A Tutorial in the Auditorium to discuss academic planning options for scheduling next year.  Students should sit in their assigned seats.

Sophomore -Monday, December 15, A Tutorial in the Auditorium to discuss PSAT results and provide students with information to help them understand their scores.

Peer Tutoring Begins

10848022_494044734070989_1237702364136919441_nAs part of a continued effort to help students academically, Kennedy will begin the Peer Tutoring program today.  This program’s purpose is to provide students with an additional layer of support in their academic endeavors.  Students can attend whenever they want as it is available every day during SMART Lunch.  I want to thank the 40 + students who have volunteered their time to do this.  They are demonstrating excellent citizenship by offering help to others.  Parents, encourage your children to take advantage of this opportunity!

Student Government to Adopt Families

Kennedy’s Student Government has adopted 23 families for the holidays. They will provide gifts for these families in need for Christmas.  They have also purchased gifts for 16 kids at Four Oaks and will also make a donation to the VA hospital patients and to the ARC during this season.

Student Government is able to do this through the efforts of kids to raise funds and get donations from local community members. They are ringing the bell for the Salvation Army for two full Saturday’s as well at the Blairs Ferry Wal-Mart merchandise door. They were able to raise over $12,000 for the holiday project and will spend every penny of it on needy families. They get the list of families through the local Veterans Affairs Office as well as Four Oaks. Twenty families are those of Veteran’s in need of help.  They have also partnered up with Ms. Mary Gibney’s class to help her students shop for two needy families as well. Furthermore, our students lined up 30 Angel Tags for Jan Perkins’ classes to help get gifts for needy kids.  It goes without saying that our Student Government members are incredible.

Life After High School Series

1551574_494311794044283_6784700025393031659_nKennedy math and business education teachers Dennis Hynek and Phil Ferrante are teaming up to provide a new series of seminars only for seniors called “Life After High School.” The focus of these seminars will be to provide students with a basic understanding of concepts essential to surviving as an adult.  Adults always talk about how they wish someone had taught them about mortgages or about what interest does on a credit card.  Now our seniors can get some information to help them prepare for adulthood!  The series begins on December 16 and will be held in the Black Box Theatre during A Tutorial.

Dance Team at State

B4LdP-OCEAAs2uuCongrats to our Dance Team as they had an incredible showing at the State Competition hosted by the Iowa State Dance and Drill Team Association this past weekend.  They earned 5th in Class 14 Pom and 6th in Class 7 Jazz.  And they also won the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award for their 3.84 team GPA!  You can catch their routine at basketball games this season during halftime.  They are a very talented

Battle of 42nd Street Blood Drive

It is time once again for the Annual Battle of 42nd Street Blood Drive!

The drive will be on 2 different nights – Dec. 8 and Dec. 15, 1:30-6:30 PM, and will take place at Oakland Church of the Nazarene gym, 3000 42nd St. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA.  Prizes will be awarded to the first 25 donors each day! If you are at least 16 years old, and want to donate this year, please e-mail khellweg@cr.k12.ia.us.  Please indicate which night (Dec. 8 or Dec. 15), and the general time frame you are able to donate. Remember that each donation can save up to 3 lives at our local hospitals.  So please consider donating!

State of the District

dod1Cedar Rapids Community School District administrators will present the annual ‘State of the District’ report on Friday, Dec. 12. Community members are invited to attend for an update on District goals and to learn more about innovative initiatives in teaching and learning. The program will also include student entertainment. Additionally, Dr. Brad Buck, Director of the Iowa Department of Education, will address attendees. Dr. Buck is a graduate of Jefferson High School.

The event will be held from 7:30-8:30 a.m. at the District’s Educational Leadership and Support Center, 2500 Edgewood Road NW.

Recommended Reading

As always, I do not endorse or necessarily agree with articles, but I thought you might find this interesting.

The Three Most Important Questions You Can Ask Your Teen (Huffington Post, 11/20/14)

Upcoming Events

Monday, Dec. 15 – Booster Club 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 16 – Sounds of the Season Concert 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 17 – Early Dismissal 12:20 p.m.


Giving Thanks

B3ISvZqCAAANXmFIt is hard to believe that we are at the end of the first term already.  It is harder to believe how cold it has been.  It has been a memorable first term at Kennedy.  We experienced significant events, changes, challenges and triumphs.  Together we initiated SMART Lunch and have seen a change in how students and teachers address individual learner needs while providing amazing extended learning opportunities.  We welcomed a partnership with a school thousands of miles away in China.  We cheered as Kennedy students were honored for things like the National Merit Scholarship, Iowa High School Press Association awards, and the opportunity to participate in the All-State Music Festival.  Together we mourned the loss of a beloved teacher, Kathy Kittredge, with the planting of a magnolia tree in her memory.  We supported students, families, and causes that needed our help, and we watched some amazing comebacks on the field and on the court.

I have to give a shout-out to the Women’s Swimming and Diving team who competed in the State Meet.  Kennedy qualified someone in every event this year which, according to Activities Director Stecker, has never happened before (or, at least in recent memory).  Our girls represented Kennedy so well this year and I am very proud of all they accomplished.  At the District meet, they broke five school records and won the district championship.

B2nxooICEAAdKrjI also want to take a moment to recognize our robotics team.  They are a dedicated group who have done well so far at their competitions.  They recently tied for first place a the Jefferson competition.  Congrats to them as they push to a state competition berth.  As well, a major congrats to all of our All-State Muscians who participated this past weekend in Ames.

As we move into term two I encourage everyone, parents, teachers, and students, to  continue to focus on each other.  As individuals we are strong and capable, but as a school community we can do so much more.  There is so much potential at Kennedy, so much good going on.  Teamwork will make us stronger.  I hope you and your family have a wonderful time together for Thanksgiving.

Two Kennedy Teachers Earn National Board Certification

355529 340255Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Horton!  Both earned their National Board Certification this week. The National Board process is extremely difficult and requires mountains of evidence of effective teaching practices.  They also had to take tests on content and teaching methods.  According to the National Board website, “National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential. As part of this process, teachers must analyze their teaching context and students’ needs, submit videos of their teaching, and provide student work samples that demonstrate growth and achievement. The reflective analyses that they submit must demonstrate: 1) A strong command of content; 2) The ability to design appropriate learning experiences that advance student learning; 3) The use of assessments to inform instructional decision making; and 4) Partnerships with colleagues, parents and the community.”  We are proud to have the Hortons at Kennedy!

Week One and Bell Schedule Change For Term Two

We will have a walk-through homeroom before first period for students to pick up their term two schedules on Monday, December 1.  As well a reminder that on Wednesday, December 3, we have an early dismissal and on Thursday, December 4, we will be running our Whole School Assembly Schedule for our Winter Pep Assembly.  Both of these days will not have SMART Lunch.

In order to provide more consistent access to the daily announcements, we will be adding a five minute block of time into 3rd period.  This time will ultimately come out of SMART Lunch and not class time.  The updated bell schedule is as follows:

Regular School Day

Period 0                                7:00 – 7:50

Period 1                                7:55 – 8:45

Period 2                              8:50 – 9:40

Period 3                               9:45 – 10:40 (Announcements start at 10:35)

Period 4                              10:45 – 11:35

SMART Lunch                    11:40 – 12:55

Tutorial A             11:40 – 12:15

Tutorial B             12:20 – 12:55

Period 5                               1:00 – 1:50

Period 6                               1:55 – 2:45

Period 7                               2:50 – 3:40

Kennedy AP Art Studio Students Design Snow Plow

crop group snow bladeKennedy AP Art students Madeline Bany, Kelsey Bills, Franklin Lisk, Hannah Meyer, and Anna Moody took part in the City of Cedar Rapids Snow Plow Design program, creating the first ever Kennedy Snow Plow!  You might see this bad boy out this winter, making roads safer for us all.  A great example of our students getting involved in the community!  Awesome job, Cougars!

Sponsors Needed for the Mini Dance Marathon

The 3rd Annual Kennedy Mini-Dance Marathon is coming up! Last year $2500 was raised for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital! This year we are hoping to raise even more money for this great cause! If your family would like to sponsor the Mini Dance Marathon, a personal sponsorship costs $50. As a personal sponsor, your name will be put on the back of the 2014 Mini Dance Marathon t-shirt. In addition, your student will get a 2014 Mini Dance Marathon T-shirt and a ticket to the dance. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please provide the following information.

Student Name:

Student Grade:

Name as you would like it to appear on the T-shirt.

Checks for $50 should be made out to Kennedy High School Mini Dance Marathon.This information and money should be returned to Stephanie Cory, the Kennedy bookkeeper by December 3rd. If you have any questions, please email Joan Steinmetz, Key Club Advisor, at jsteinmetz@cr.k12.ia.us

You’re Invited: State of the District Program

CaptureAll parents are invited to the annual State of the District presentation, which will take place at the Education Leadership and Support Center, 2500 Edgwood Rd NW, on December 12 at 7:30 AM.  Come learn about the current programs and achievements of the Cedar Rapids Community School District.  This is also a great place to learn about changes that are coming and new programs on the horizon.

Kennedy Leadership Reteat a Success

DSC_0016On Wednesday, November 5, a team of Juniors and Seniors led our annual Fall Leadership Retreat for 100 Freshmen and Sophomore students. DSC_0056Held at a lodge within the Squaw Creek Park, the students illustrated and discussed various leadership qualities and how we reflect those values both at school and at home. The highlight of the day was welcoming Mr. Kent Stock to talk with the group about pursuing what you love, facing adversity, setting goals, and reflecting on how we want to be remembered. Students who participated will take part in three more leadership development sessions over the course of this year.

A special thanks to PTA for the delicious cake and the ten teachers who came on the retreat: George Anderson, Craig Bova, Tracy Bowers, Erin Ennis, Angie McConnell, Dana Melone, Kristina Merritt, Tammy Miller, Melissa Osborn, and Shawn Thomsen!

2015 Essay Contents: Iowa Juneteenth Observance

The Iowa Juneteenth Observance is excited to provide you with the attached application form for our 2015 essay contest, which is sponsored by Drake University. The essay contest is statewide and serves as an inspirational vehicle for youth to strengthen appreciation for scholarship, cultural diversity, and the enhancement of community relations. The top essayist will receive a $1,000.00 gift card; the top three essayists will attend our annual Community Appreciation Banquet in Des Moines; and all students who submit applications and essays in accordance with the requirements will be provided an invitation by Drake University for an on-campus visit. For more information, click this link.

Langford Team Shines

The Iowa Quality Center kicked of this year’s Langford Team training. Located in Marion, the Kirkwood Training and Outreach Services facility hosted teams from several local high schools including six students from Kennedy High School. The Kennedy team included Sean Wu, Austin Wu, Nina Yu, Brennan Urbi, Rizwan Sidhu, and Hannah Walker. After four days of training, our team presented on Wednesday, October 29, at Grant Wood AEA to an audience of Iowa Quality Center coordinators and eight GWAEA Media Center Staff.

2014 LangfordThe Langford Team training is a program designed to teach students how to use a variety of the 52 quality tools, work through a nine-step process and solve a real life problem with the plan-do-study-act model. Students are assigned a problem identified by a local business and work collaboratively to propose a theory of improvement, test the theory, study results, and act on or implement recommended changes.

Our Kennedy team worked with Grant Wood AEA to design a book sharing procedure in order to make better use of their Rotating Reads program. Rotating Reads is a way for elementary schools to share books for grades 1-4 not typically housed in their school libraries or classrooms. With the current process, the team discovered there are 8,575 books not being used because of low teacher participation and an inefficient check-in and delivery system. Besides the program is underutilized, media center staff were also interested in freeing up the storage space it takes to operate the program from their building. The team created an electronic storyboard using the force field analysis, plus delta chart, and fishbone diagram. In conclusion, our team proposed that the books be shipped out to schools on a rotating basis, boxes would be stored in the buildings for 2 months, and that the GWAEA media center could bring in volunteers to help with the check-in and delivery procedures.

Our students were pleased to have an experience that gave them a sense of the real working world, teamwork, problem solving, and the professionalism needed to present to an audience of community members. The GWAEA and Iowa Quality Center staff were impressed with the creative solutions and enthusiasm of our six students.

Please join us in congratulating Sean Wu, Austin Wu, Nina Yu, Brennan Urbi, Rizwan Sidhu, and Hannah Walker in their contributions to the 2014 Langford Team and representation of Kennedy High School. (From Jenny Wagner)

Support PTA’s Big Fundraiser

imgresThe Kennedy PTA has teamed up with Schwan’s Cares program to raise funds for our Academic Recognition Awards and PTA sponsored scholarships. With the Schwan’s Cares program, a portion of our total sales are donated back to our PTA. The fundraiser will run from November 18th through December 31st.  It’s so easy!  Just go to our campaign page on the Schwan’s website and purchase delicious foods your family will enjoy.  The items are paid for online and they will be delivered right to your door.
PTA will receive a portion of the purchased price.
·         20% of food items
·         40% of the e-certificate value (1 e-certificate per customer)
If you are a current Schwan’s customer, you must purchase your items through the PTA campaign page on the Schwan’s website or by phone with our campaign number for the PTA to get credit for the items. Be sure to indicate your student’s team (Senior, Junior, Sophomore or Freshman), as the class that raises the most money will receive a donation towards their class fund which is used for such events as Prom. When the fundraising campaign starts, an email will be sent out to Kennedy Families that will contain the direct link to our Campaign.  Please consider supporting the PTA in this easy and delicious way!!  Click here for more information.
Kennedy Theatre Presents “Honk Jr.”
10665085_486066541535475_1511822243113795741_nOn December 4-6, Kennedy Theatre, through the Children’s Theatre of Cedar Rapids, presents Honk Jr.  Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling”, “Honk, Jr.” tells the story of an odd looking baby duck, Ugly, and his quest to find his mother. Tickets go on sale 45 minutes before showtime.  Seating begins 30 minutes prior to the performance. Tickets are $3 and activity passes cannot be used for these shows.  Showtimes are December 4 and 5, 4:30 and 7:00; December 6 1:00 and 4:00.
And join us on Saturday, December 6 for the Once Upon a Time Breakfast, at Kennedy High School from 9 to 12. Pancakes, crafts, sing-a-longs, a Grand Ball and more! Dress as a prince or princess! $5 per person, all proceeds benefit JFK Theatre.

Recommended Reading

As always, I don’t necessarily endorse or agree with these articles, but I found them interesting.  Enjoy.

Regulating the Teenage Mind (Harvard Graduate School of Education Usable Knowledge, 11-12-14)

Save Time, Money with Easy Essay Scholarship Contents (US News and World Report, 7-24-14)

The Ten Skills Employers Want in 2015 Graduates (Forbes, 11-12-14)

Upcoming Events

Monday, December 1 – Winter Term begins

Wednesday, December 3 – Early Dismissal – 12:20 p.m.

Thursday, December 4 – Pep Assembly – 8:55 a.m. – Main Gym; Playtime Poppy 4:30/7:00 p.m. – KHS Auditorium

Friday, December 5 – State Dance & Color Guard Competition; Playtime Poppy 4:30/7:00 p.m. – KHS Auditorium

Saturday, December 6 – SAT Test; Playtime Poppy 2:00/4:30 p.m. – KHS Auditorium


The Heart of a Cougar

This week we have much to celebrate.  But first we will pause and reflect on the life and impact of Ms. Kathy Kittredge.  Ms. Kittredge taught physics, including AP Physics, at Kennedy for ten years.  Last Saturday, she passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Katherine KittredgeMs. Kittredge was not your typical teacher.  She loved her subject area, a subject area that is not easy for most of us to understand. Some teachers will work to ‘make kids like the subject.’  Not Ms. Kittredge.  Instead, she worked to make herself understand how to make the material likable to the students.  It was her mission to find ways to connect physics to students.   Ms. Kittredge was always trying to find new ways to reach students.

With a generous and loving spirit, Ms. Kittredge continued to teach her AP Physics class as often as she physically was able this year, even though her treatments were taking a toll on her.  Last week she came to the realization that she needed to pull back as the doctors had to try additional therapies to combat the cancer.  But even with this news, she still remained hopeful that she could return to the classroom.  And I think it’s safe to say that everyone at Kennedy hoped that would be the case.

Kathy Kittredge will be sorely missed in the Kennedy community.  We are holding a tree planting in her honor and her memory today at 3:00 PM in the Outdoor Classroom on the north side of the building.  All are invited to attend and share in Ms. Kittredge’s life.

Cougar Activities Wrap Up Fall Season

This week was also one to celebrate.  Our Swim and Dive Team won the regional competition last week and sent 13 swimmers and divers to compete at the State Meet this past Saturday in Marshalltown with a qualifier in every event.  Qualifiers include:Carolyn Simon, Jayden Lovell, Courtney Fisher, Sam Jacobson, Brooke Timmerman, Taylor Golden, Kirsten Siebenga, Maddie Bagby, Sarah Gannon, Mackinzee Macho, Darby Manternach, Lydia Yang, and Jessica Williams.

TlIILsbZDOk-fLipIXB1tqBfYx_UkNFw7Dih_Qq14G0=w1220-h687-noAs well, this week wrapped up the fall seasons for football and volleyball, both ending during the playoffs.  Both teams had great runs at the end of their seasons and both fought very hard in their final games.  I have to say that I am quite proud of how well we did this year on the field during the fall season and I am excited for winter sports to begin shortly.

Final Exam Schedule

Final Exams are coming up in two weeks.  Exam days will be November 20th and 21st.  We are required to hold school for the entire school day during exams this year; however, we will be running buses at the times listed.  Students without a zero or seventh hour class will report to  study hall in the cafeteria, with the exception of bus riders.  Here is the schedule:

Day 1: Thursday, November 20
 1st hour 7:55 – 9:10
2nd hour 9:20 – 10:35
3rd hour 10:45 – 12:00
Smart Lunch 12:05 – 1:25 (bus riders will depart @ 12:50 Grab-n-Go Lunches)
0 hour 1:30 – 2:45
Day 2: Friday, November 21   (EO students do not report to Kennedy)
4th hour 7:55 – 9:10
5th hour 9:20 – 10:35
6th hour 10:45 – 12:00 
Smart Lunch 12:05 – 1:25 (Bus Riders Depart @ 12:30 – Grab-n-Go Lunches)
7th hour1:30 – 2:45
Kennedy PTA Events and Website
10805601_481222472019882_4605234980165078816_nPlease plan on attending the PTA sponsored Informational Night on Monday, November 10 at 6:30 pm.  Our speaker for the evening will be Officer Charity Hansel, who is Kennedy’s Resource Officer with the Cedar Rapids Police Department.  She will be talking about her duties at Kennedy and current trends in teenage drug use.  In particular, Officer Hansel will be speaking on the impact of legalized marijuana in certain states and what effects that has had on those states and our students here in Cedar Rapids.  Please join us on the 10th for this important subject for all parents and guardians.  We will be in the Black Box Auditorium.
The PTA has some other great things going on as well.  First, they have a new website.  You can visit them at http://khspta.weebly.com/ and get up-to-date info there.  Secondly, there is an upcoming fundraiser that will be great for the Holiday season!  The Kennedy PTA has teamed up with Schwan’s Cares program to raise funds for our Academic Recognition Awards and PTA sponsored scholarships. With the Schwan’s Cares program, a portion of our total sales are donated back to our PTA. The fundraiser will run from November 18th through December 31st.  It’s so easy!  Just go to our campaign page on the Schwan’s website and purchase delicious foods your family will enjoy.  The items are paid for online and they will be delivered right to your door.
PTA will receive a portion of the purchased price.
·         20% of food items
·         40% of the e-certificate value ( 1 e-certificate per customer)
If you are a current Schwan’s customer, you must purchase your items through the PTA campaign page on the Schwan’s website or by phone with our campaign number for the PTA to get credit for the items. Be sure to indicate your student’s team (Senior, Junior, Sophomore or Freshman), as the class that raises the most money will receive a donation towards their class fund which is used for such events as Prom. When the fundraising campaign starts, an email will be sent out to Kennedy Families that will contain the direct link to our Campaign.  Please consider supporting the PTA in this easy and delicious way!!
Cougars Give Back on Homeless Night
10698404_480671768741619_1387135969329712728_nSeventy-five Kennedy students braved the elements to live in makeshift, cardboard box dwellings and experienced what homelessness feels like for one night, all for a good cause.  The students who participated paid a minimum of $15 to be part of the experience, with the proceeds of over $1500 going to local homeless shelters in Cedar Rapids.  This project is organized by the Student Government and overseen by Mr. Joe Benedict from our Social Studies Department.  Special thanks to Mr. Benedict and Mr. Adrian Evans for staying up all night to chaperone the evening as well.
Journalism Students Earn State Awards
2014 IHSPA Photo (1)Kennedy journalism students came home with some new hardware after attending the Iowa High School Press Association state journalism conference in Iowa City on Oct. 23.  In statewide journalism contests, competing against such strong high school programs as Cedar Rapids Washington, Iowa City High, and Iowa City West, the Kennedy Torch newsmagazine won First Place in photography and Honorable Mention for students’ writing.
Sophomore reporters Emily Sass and Brooke Timmerman participated in the on-the-spot photography event and Sass took home two individual awards for her compositions. Juniors Gabby Olejniczak and Elianna Novitch also received awards. They were honored by the IHSPA as State of Iowa Emerging Journalists.
Editors of Profile Yearbook and students in Kennedy’s Introduction to Journalism class also attended the state convention to gain hands-on journalism skills, participate in writing workshops, photography sessions, student panel discussions, talk with media professionals, and tour the university campus.
“The conference teaches us new skills that we bring back to better our publication,” Torch editor Lydia Martin said. “Listening and participating gives us ideas and tips for bettering our web and newsmagazine. It really opened up my mind to new options.”  English/Language arts teachers Kara Asmussen advises Profile Yearbook and Stacy Haynes-Moore advises Torch media.
Career Exploration is Alive and Well at Kennedy
????????We had a record setting number of students sign up for Job Shadows through the Workplace Learning Connection this fall and our students are really getting a lot out of these experiences. Sawyer Neuhaus spent part of a school day at the Cedar Rapids Police Department learning about a career in law enforcement along with 18 other teens from 7 area schools.  He spent time with a Crime Scene Investigation officer, the Dispatch Center, the K9 Unit, the Special Response Team, and ended the day learning take-down methods in the Training Room.  He is getting a jump start on his future career.  Your child should too!  Apply for a Winter/Spring Job Shadow through Mr. Jay Goodlove this November.
B12_ahrCYAEwzO0On Friday, the Workplace Learning Connection helped over 200 Kennedy students learn about potential STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers through a job fair held during SMART Lunch.  A dozen career fields were represented, from biologists and chemists to plumbers and architects.  Students got to spend time learning about each field, ask questions, and even try on some gear!  It was a great opportunity.  Thanks to Ms. Joan Steinmetz for organizing this opportunity for our students.
Peer Tutors Needed
Calling all Juniors and Seniors looking for the opportunity to help others and earn some service hours!  We are starting a Peer Tutoring program to supplement our tutorials during SMART Lunch.  An informational meeting will take place on Friday, November 14, during SMART Lunch in the Auditorium for interested students.  No commitment will be made until after the informational session and students are being asked to consider volunteering between 40 and 80 minutes per week.
 Important Class Meetings 
Last week we met with the Senior Class to discuss graduation, transcripts, and to distribute information about the Kennedy Scholarship and Award opportunities.  Students who did not attend are encouraged to pick up information in the main office and view this PowerPoint.  If they have questions they should see their counselor.  Parents, you should have received a packet from your senior student from Herf-Jones regarding caps and gowns and other items for graduation.  Herf-Jones will be at Kennedy Thursday the 13th and Friday the 14th during SMART Lunch to take orders.  Remember, Graduation will be at 7:00 PM on May 28th at the US Celluar Center.
We will be having important class meetings for Sophomores and Juniors on Tuesday, November 12, during SMART Lunch.  These meetings are required to help students prepare for registration and career planning.  Juniors will meet during A Tutorial, and Sophomores will meet during B Tutorial.  Both meetings are in the auditorium.  Please remind your child to attend.
Upcoming Events
Thursday, November 13 – Premiere Show Choir Concert – 7 p.m.