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Lake Orion receives top awards for educational programs



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April 30, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

Lake Orion Schools proved their educational programs are among the best in Oakland County for the second year in a row.

The district claimed two of the top three awards for the Excellence in Education Awards Recognition Program on Thursday, April 24.

Eight finalists were selected from Oakland County for the 21st awards recognition program created by the Oakland Press and Oakland Schools.

Three of Lake Orion's programs were in the running, including the Learning Options High School, but ultimately the district wide Early Intervention Reading Initiative took first place and Blanche Sims Kindergarten Kickoff program took third place.

Both winning programs will receive an honorary plaque and $1,000 and $500 respectively.

This is the second year in a row that a Lake Orion academic program won first place. Webber Elementary's Academic Booster Council took first place last year.  

Judges selected educational programs based on their creativity, innovation, problem solving skills and results.

The Early Intervention Reading Initiative was implemented in 2012 for kindergarteners district-wide, which grew to include first graders in 2013 as well. The program assesses each student in 16 reading categories in order to provide data for reading specialists to develop individual learning plans.

Prior to the program 68 percent of kindergarteners were scored as successful pre-readers. After enrolling in the program for one year, 87 percent of kindergarteners met the State's standards as successful pre-readers.

"Studies and research has shown us that if you can recognize phonemic awareness and have those pre-reading skills, you're going to be a solid reader," Tamura Oberle-Lang said, teacher consultant for LO schools.

Blanche Sim's Kindergarten Kickoff program invited all incoming kindergarteners to get into the groove of school before the first day in the 2013-14 school year. The free program ran three days a week for four weeks, introducing students to daily routines in order to smoothly transition them into school structure.

Of the school's 41 kindergarteners, 20 participated in the program.

The district noted the contributions of Heidi Mercer, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for her leadership. To Drew Towlerton and the Learning Options staff, Jennifer Goethals and the Blanche Sims staff, and Julie Stucky and the intervention staff.

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