SABINA — East Clinton is looking to start a school-based, peer-to-peer suicide prevention program next August.
The plans are for it to encompass both the middle and high schools, which of course are on the same Lees Creek campus.
“We like to be preventive. We feel it’s very important to get something like this going with our kids,” East Clinton Middle School Principal Robbin Luck said during her principal’s report Tuesday night to the school board.
Luck, East Clinton High School Principal Michael Adams, and East Clinton Middle School Counselor Valerie Stuckey have met with a representative of Grant Us Hope, which starts a Hope Squad in interested schools.
According to the Grant Us Hope website, “Grant Us Hope creates communities of leadership and advocacy that enhance mental wellness, safety, and prevention in schools. We develop a community of students that work together to save lives.
“Hope Squad … emphasizes suicide prevention fundamentals, self-care and anti-bullying,” adds the website.
And further, “Grant Us Hope is a rising change agent for teen suicide prevention in the Greater Cincinnati region. We are passionate about providing a platform for teens, parents and families to engage in pro-mental health conversations, activities and solutions, and we’re committed to expanding the availability, reach, and impact of mental health services for teens in distress.”
Luck told the school board that while one of the program’s focuses is suicide, it also is just about having someone to talk to — peers a student can trust and go to.
Also during her report, Luck said she is very proud of the sportsmanship displayed by the 8th-grade boys basketball team in a game against a team she said she would not mention by name, but which applied a press defense toward East Clinton when the EC Astros were behind 34-3.
“I wasn’t a very happy camper. We’re teaching kids. That didn’t make me very happy, but I was proud of the kids, and the coaches to keep their character in playing hard,” said Luck. She played high school girls basketball for the East Clinton Astros, and college women’s basketball for the Rio Grande Redwomen, now called the RedStorm.
Superintendent Eric Magee reported to the board about a recent curriculum and instructional audit review conducted of the school district. The audit was meant to help show where the district stands now; it also produced 10 recommendations.
Implementing all the recommendations will take several years, he said, but he hopes two or three will be carried out yet this school year.
Recommendation no. 1 is to develop annual district continuous improvement and action plans, with the word “annual” underlined in the report.
Another recommendation is to outline a portrait of an East Clinton graduate. Magee characterized this recommendation as something that pertains to the district’s vision.
It will involve sitting down and determining what an East Clinton graduate is — a defined measure of what that is in terms of core values and beliefs that makes East Clinton East Clinton, and what to work toward, he said.
Another way to put it: “What are those things that we need to instill in every graduate of East Clinton so that when local business owners have an interview with an East Clinton graduate, they will know that this-and-this-and-this are going to be traits of the student because of what we produce,” Magee said.
The superintendent thinks a recommendation to continue supporting students with college and career exploration, beginning in the lower grades and responding to their needs across multiple grade levels, is “an area we need some strong improvement in.”
Under this recommendation heading, the audit report advises the district to provide students with additional opportunities for deeper exploration of content, interests, and real-world connections to support the exploration. This could include, suggests the report, independent study options, mentorships or internships, capstone experiences, additional credit flex options, and support with the college application process.
Looking ahead to the upcoming middle school construction project, Magee noted that the state of Ohio will, by then, require on new construction a tornado-safe space to shelter all students in a building.
This will mean more building materials in order to have a super-hardened area, he said.
The school district recognized retiring board members Mark Garen and Greg Bronner. Garen was a member for 25 years, and Bronner for four years.
Bronner wanted to make a statement for the News Journal article: “I would like to thank the community for allowing me the opportunity to serve on the East Clinton School Board the past four years. This has been a great experience for me to learn this side of the school system, and it was an honor for me to serve with fellow members (Linda, Tim, Mark, and Bob) that cumulatively have had well over 60 years of School Board experience.
“I would also like to thank Superintendent Eric Magee and Treasurer John Stanley for the leadership roles they play within our district and the support they gave me throughout my term on the Board. I want to wish the district much success as the new middle school project and elementary school renovations come to life over the next couple years. Well overdue and much deserved for the East Clinton School District, and community.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.