Ottumwa High School proud of accomplishments over last two years

The Standards of Success are just one element OHS has implemented since receiving the Safe and Supportive Schools Grant.

Ottumwa High School is proud of the accomplishments they've made in the two years since receiving the Iowa Safe and Supportive Schools Grant.

In April 2011, OHS was one of 47 high schools in Iowa that participated in a survey conducted by the Iowa Department of Education. The survey measures a school's conditions for learning; specifically in three areas - safety, engagement and environment.

The grant would provide up to $100,000 a year to two to four years and schools were selected based on the greatest opportunity for improvement. Ottumwa High School scored a 19 out of 36 on that initial survey, and became one of 22 schools in Iowa selected for the grant.

OHS is now in the third year of the grant, and has since made great strides in those three areas the survey concentrated on. The school assembled a Youth Leadership Team made up of 18 students and a School Community Council composed of 10 parents, five teachers and three administrators and three students from the youth team that identified why OHS scored how they did on the survey and what could be done to improve their score.

The school's Standards of Success were then developed and posted at the high school, along with signs, paint and more to make the physical environment more appealing. The Bulldog Block Party debuted in August of 2012, which was a huge success and strides have been taken to increase parent involvement, student to teacher relations and student to student relationships.

"I would say the biggest impact so far that we've seen is our student to student relationships," said Zach Wigle, Assistant Principal at Ottumwa High School. "The amount of fights or assaults, just altercations among students... They're handling them a better way, for the most part. We still do see things get to that point, but just not as often and as frequently."

In the student to student relations category, OHS scored a zero out of three initially, but in the latest follow-up survey taken in the spring of this year, that score improved to a two out of three.

Ottumwa High School's overall rating has improved as well. After the 19 out of 36 scored in 2011, the school received a 19 out of 36 in a survey in 2012 and a 21 out of 36 in 2013.

Wigle said the goal now is to keep the ball rolling. Planning is already underway for the 2013 Bulldog Block Party and a school-wide community Clean Up Day is scheduled for May 4. Students, teachers and community members are invited to have a pancake breakfast at the high school starting at 9 a.m. at the high school, then volunteers will help plant trees, grass and beautify the OHS campus.