Focus on Student Achievement
Hello Makos and Mako Supporters,
Thank you for reading our second ever edition of The Current This month, though safety is always foremost, we shift from safety to student achievement. The State released each system’s report card a few days ago, and you will only find mention of our schools under the parent system We expect our first ever report card for Orange Beach City Schools next year The grades received for the 2021 2022 school year were as follows: Orange Beach Elementary School 89, Orange Beach Middle High School 86 Both scores are not indicative of our potential Maintaining a 95 is our goal moving forward The quickest fix is that of chronic absenteeism. Simply put, our students will not achieve, nor be ready for college or career as they should, if they are not present and engaged. Other solutions to improving student achievement are ongoing teacher professional development, academic goal setting, and increased student accountability all of which we are working on Please read closely the articles on AP and Dual Enrollment courses and our efforts to provide new high school electives
You will also read about our ongoing capital campaign, which was solidified with the recent City’s budget approval We are excited to forge ahead with our building plans and appreciate the City’s generous support Not within the Board’s scope, but rather that of the City’s, is the placement of turf on the softball field and the creation of softball and baseball facilities at the Sportsplex. So again, we say thank you, City of Orange Beach!
Lastly, we are entering a most celebrated time of year. As we enjoy the holidays, let us be mindful of those around us who are not as fortunate and of those who may have lost a loved one this past year Involve those who are without, encourage those in despair, and share the HOPE of the season with all!
Merry Christmas & Go Makos!Superintendent
Thank you to all who were able to join us for Parents' Day! An inaugural event for Orange Beach City Schools, our parents were invited to join us for our Thanksgiving Meal Participation was fantastic, as we welcomed nearly 650 guests to both our campuses. Our schools were packed with parents eager to enjoy a lunch on campus with their child Our cafeteria staff did a fantastic job of preparing the traditional ham, dressing, sweet potatoes, green beans, and, of course, cranberry relish! Our teachers and staff were excited to serve, and our maintenance and janitorial staff worked diligently to prepare for our guests While the food was delicious, the company was the best! It is our hope to continue this event each year, creating new traditions and a lasting legacy for Orange Beach City Schools
Getting to know Mr. Joe...
Joe Blevins is the Director of Personnel, Operations, and Student Services. He joined Orange Beach City Schools in July of 2022 from Phenix City Schools, where he served as Assistant Superintendent. We are so excited for him to be part of Mako Nation.
Q: Tell us a little about your background:
A: My father was in the US Air Force so I grew up on bases from Warner Robins, Georgia to Anchorage, Alaska. We moved to my mom’s hometown, Selma, AL, when he retired. I lettered in football (quarterback) and baseball (catcher) at Selma High School. I graduated from Troy State University in 1989 with a degree in History and PE. While at Troy, I met and married my wife, Wanda.
I began my teaching career as a US History and head football coach at South Girard Jr High in Phenix City, AL. I spent 33 years in Phenix City holding several positions including Assistant Principal, Principal, Operations Director and Assistant Superintendent.
Q: What made you want to move to Orange Beach City Schools?
A: To be a part of a brand new school system and help create a legacy that will influence children for years to come is an
awesome and humbling opportunity. In Phenix City, I worked with Mr. Wilkes for eight years. When he was named Superintendent of Orange Beach City Schools, he asked if I would like to join him I couldn’t say yes quickly enough (after prayerful consideration and talking with my wife, of course) My older brother is a retired school administrator who lives in Orange Beach My wife and I would vacation here with our two boys, and we fell in love with the island It has been our dream to move to the area when we retire We feel blessed to be able to come here without having to retire
Q: What is one thing you would like to help implement in our schools?
A: I believe our students deserve the best and brightest when it comes to personnel We have that here in Orange Beach I would like to implement plans that ensure we continue to have outstanding staff members This would include the
recruitment, training, and retention of exceptional employees
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: I wear several hats for Orange Beach City Schools. I work with personnel, operations, and student services. I like starting my day early, so I usually come in around 6:30 AM. This allows me to answer emails and look over my calendar to create my to do list for the day After checking in with my assistant, Suzanne Kramer, I get out into the schools Since we are a new district, most days include taking care of personnel items, writing/reviewing job descriptions, processing student transfer requests, checking on projects/repairs going on in our schools, and working with the athletic director
Q: If you were a student at OBCS, what would you most like to be part of?
A: I enjoyed a variety of extracurricular activities when I was in school I am amazed at the support our students receive not only from our Board of Education, but also from the city, community, parents and organizations like the MAAAC I think I would certainly enjoy being involved in athletics and the performing arts
Honoring our Veterans
Orange Beach students at both campuses celebrated our veterans in November. Welcoming family members who served in the military was a true honor. Showcasing student art in the halls and classrooms, the building was filled with red, white, and blue tributes. In preparation for the event, our students learned valuable lessons in our classrooms about military service and the sacrifice of our veterans. Elementary students hosted a reception and participated in a program offering thanks to all those who have served and are currently serving our country.
The middle and high school welcomed Jake Norotsky, a veteran and speaker from the Wounded Warrior Project. Jake spoke in two sessions to grades 7 12. Using his experiences as an Army veteran, Jake quickly related to students and encouraged them to reach out to those around them if they are in need of help. His message was one of hope and resiliency. We were truly thankful that he was able to share his story with our students.
OBES Flag Pole DedicationRed Ribbon Leader, Allie Roach, organized the Orange Beach Elementary Flag Pole Dedication on November 7th, 2022 as a community service initiative to pay tribute to our veterans and first responders A wonderful dedication poem was read by Presley Proctor and The National Anthem was beautifully sung by Taryn Clutter It was a very special event and was an excellent way to honor those who have served Great job, Allie! FrontRow:AllieRoach,Presley Proctor,TarynClutter BackRow:GulfShoresNavy JROTC,SuperintendentRandy Wilkes,SenatorChrisElliott, CouncilmanJeffBoyd,Councilman JerryJohnson,MayorTony Kennon
Safety Summit Update
In our last edition, The Current focused on safety initiatives in our schools and highlighted our Safety Summits. These summits bring together local and regional experts to inform and guide our school leaders on student safety concerns. In November, we focused on active shooter scenarios. While we pray the protocols and trainings will never need to be used, our parents and students should know that we have prepared as much as possible for such an event. Through partnerships with local law enforcement, first responders, and city leaders, we have learned quite a bit, and we are as prepared as possible. To that end, knowing this is a difficult subject to consider, please take the time to watch the video prepared by Superintendent Randy Wilkes There are certain plans/protocols that we feel our parents should know about in event of a scenario of this type It is our duty to keep you informed, but it is not our intention to create anxiety or fear Please know that we are keeping your child's safety in our foremost thoughts While the Top 10 Things to Know are listed, please watch the video first I think you will be relieved to know the thought and effort put into these decisions, as Superintendent Wilkes explains the purpose behind them as well Please click here to watch the
video from Superintendent Wilkes
10 Things Parents Should Know:
Regardless of the shooter's location, both campuses will lock down, as the intent of the attacker may not be known.
Parents will be informed as quickly as possible. Email may be the most reliable means in the event of emergency.
Phone lines may be overwhelmed and communication with students may be difficult.
Once in lockdown, students outside the building will be instructed to run (run, hide, fight) away from the school/threat.
Once in lockdown, students outside the classroom, but inside the building, should find a place to hide (run, hide, fight). See video.
Primary roads will be closed as deemed necessary by city officials.
Law enforcement officers are in control of the environment. School officials will work in consult with these officers.
Parents may encounter unfamiliar persons, as federal and regional law enforcement will be present.
Personal belongings, including cell phones, will remain onsite until investigation is concluded.
Check-outs will occur as soon as law enforcement agrees it is safe. Response will be immediate, but this process can take some time.
Athletic Director CoachRobMorales
What do you hope to accomplish as our Athletic Director? As an Athletic Director, I aim to create a culture of winning and develop a spirit of competition The expectation is to compete at everything Winning is a habit, so we have to provide our student athletes with plenty of opportunities to compete every day The goal is to afford our student athletes an abundance of little victories, through which they can build their confidence and develop their best self.
Why are athletics an important part of the middle/high school student experience? I believe that athletics at the middle and high school levels are intended to supplement the educational experience Therefore, we must focus on the development of the whole student, by incorporating challenging academics, skills acquisition, and strong character development We accomplish this by challenging our student athletes to deliver their very best in every aspect of their day to day activities In that manner, we can help them reach their potential and enhance their lives. I have been a lifelong competitor and have found pleasure in achieving exceptional results through the use of the abilities that God gave me. Athletics provided me, and a great number of other professionals, with amazing opportunities I believe that it can do the same for our student athletes
Provide a quote that guides you: A verse that has guided me is from Proverbs, Chapter 3
verses 5 & 6 “Trust in the Lord your God with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths ”
CallingallMakoFamilies It's Registration Time
We are ready to start our registration for the 2023 2024 school year for returning students. We are getting an early start this year for a couple of reasons 1 Planning for next school year will begin in mid January 2 Our initial integration of PowerSchool was not complete, and we are missing critical data for some students such as medical, updated contacts, etc This is vital information needed to protect your student and make sure that we are keeping them safe and healthy.
Registration for returning students will be done through the Parent Portal If you have not created your account yet, you can contact the registrar at your school or Dr Smith for help YOU MUST create a new account Logging in as your student will not allow you to accurately update this information Instructions previously sent out on parent portal creation are no longer valid so you will need to contact your school or Dr. Smith to get the Access ID and password to link your children to your account.
We are asking that you complete every form in the portal Proof of residency will be requested as addresses are validated Save yourself some time and upload a current electric bill, lease, deed, etc
All current students planning on returning for the 23 24 school year should have registration completed by December 16th Please reach out to our registrars if assistance is needed
OBES Registrar Wanda Blevins wblevins@obcityschools org
OBMHS Registrar Kathleen Messer email@example.com
Thank you so much for your help, and Go Makos!
Dr Robbie Smith
Celebrating Student Achievement
Our students are reaching their goals both inside and outside the classroom. From arts, athletics, academics, leadership, and character, Orange Beach students continue to wow! Please join us in congratulating these students!Luiza Salazar's talented performance in Visions of Christmas Faith Craig's talented performance in Visions of Christmas Shayd Arboneaux taking his wrestling career to the next level. Joey Robertson's commitment to play college basketball. Winners of the Live Bait Art contest. Terrific Kids! Terrific Kids! All-American Cheerleaders: Evie Rosa Butler, Eliza Vallier, and Kaedyn Burson. Elizabeth Rayfield's talented performance in Visions of Christmas OBMHS Students of the Month!
A combination of options for our students at Orange Beach Middle & High School ensure a customized experience for each student to achieve success. Through valued partnerships, we are able to offer eleven Advanced Placement Courses, dual enrollment opportunities, and career technical programs. We recognize that there are many paths to success, and we want our students to have all the tools to follow their strengths and passions.
Advanced Placement (AP) Courses are nationally standardized, college level classes designed to and prepare students and expose them to the rigor of a college classroom Our teachers are trained and knowledgeable about the subject at hand and the AP testing required to gain college credit These courses are important in the selective college admissions process to demonstrate rigor and commitment to academic pursuits Due to College Board national requirements and AP Teacher training, colleges are able to view these courses in a more standardized way
An Orange Beach Initiative
Dual enrollment options allow students to take college courses for credit For some courses, students are able to earn concurrent high school credit. These partnerships allow students several benefits, like automatic college admission for successful students. Currently, we have partnerships in place with the University of Alabama, Auburn University, University of South Alabama, and Coastal Community College!
Through a unique partnership with Coastal Alabama Community College, our students can receive the best of both options and no longer have to make the difficult decision by choosing only one path! Many of our dual enrollment selections are also taught as AP courses! Successful students in these classes are guaranteed college credit, while also demonstrating rigor for selective universities using recognized national standards This option is a game changer for our students! As we continue to seek paths to set our students apart, programs like these will continue to be at the forefront This opportunity was made possible by administrators seeking to provide the best opportunities for our students and not resting until they were available. It is so exciting that we are just getting started!
...one that incorporates challenging academics and skills acquisition..."
The ELO: Extended Learning Opportunity
The Orange Beach City Board of Education recently approved an Extended Learning Opportunity (ELO) Policy to grant high school students credit for work experiences Eligible entities are nonprofit organizations, businesses within Alabama, trade associations, and the Armed Forces Students, parents, and the granting organization will develop a detailed plan that includes standards, assessment strategies, and clearly defined grading criteria. Students are limited to one credit per ELO. For more information, contact the high school guidance counselor, Mrs. Jessica DeVoursney, at firstname.lastname@example.org. All work related experiences will be considered.
Don't forget about our career tech options! We offer several ways for students to get hands on experience in career fields. These can serve as electives or, if taken in the prescribed series, a full career technical certification. Current opportunities are listed . Be on the look out for more to come in the future.
What OBCS Wants for Christmas...
All we want for Christmas this year is for the students to have the best opportunities to excel Key to those opportunities is the employment of highly effective staff, staff training, and relevant
and rigorous course offerings. Two areas of immediate curriculum concern are the need to expand arts and career and technical education.
A Choir and Show Choir
To date, OBHS art programs consist of photography, drama, and band (one could argue that digital design lends itself, as would any number of courses) Much research supports a correlation between the arts and academic success. Incorporating choir and show choir has tremendous value
Access to High School Health Occupation Courses
The medical field is full of high demand high wage jobs. According to U S News and World Report, two of the top five (arguably three of the top five) best jobs in America are within this area. There is no better introduction to the field than through high school health occupation courses.
Good news rarely goes viral, but the near impromptu Orange Beach High School’s ESPN Gameday crew recently did just that. Experience has
Communication and Multi-Media Expansion
shown high student interest in digital media, and a school having access to media benefits all stakeholder groups. So, might television productions or an expansion of communication classes be seen (and heard) in the future?
Coast Guard ROTC Program
The love of country, self control, and organizational skills are rudimentary to ROTC programs, and the appeal is excellent to a diverse population of students. Though past the deadline, Yours Truly applied, was appropriately denied, and told we would be
considered next fall The application was specific to the Coast Guard as there are only six units in the United States and only one (Tampa) on the coast from the Keys to Mexico.
Late summer, we noted that the school system's vision is to be built by the stakeholder. We desire to create ownership and not buy-in. Not all courses above or others not listed can be implemented immediately. There is an opportunity to provide feedback, so please share your thoughts on next year’s offerings Expect a student survey in the near future
-Mr. Randy Wilkes, Superintendent
"Orange Beach City Schools provides a K 12 results based experience that focuses on the whole student, one that incorporates challenging academics and skills acquisition, strong character development and solid citizenship, which will build our next generation. "
Construction plans continue as we forge ahead with new facilities for our school system. As mentioned earlier, the softball field is receiving new turf on the fields and new facilities for softball and baseball are in the works Again, we are thankful for the city's investment in these projects for our students
Construction continues on the elementary school cafetorium and media center This expansion project will include an additional wing for a new cafeteria and library, which will potentially eliminate the need for portable buildings on site The current cafeteria and library will be renovated to provide additional classroom space for students
Creating a La
Preparation will continue as we implement our Capital Plan. More information will be released in future editions of The Current As we have updates, we will be excited to pass them along to you
As mentioned in the November edition, anticipated projects will include: converting the present OBES cafeteria and library into eight classrooms, development of William Silvers Parkway and Canal Road to include a competition gymnasium, practice facility, field house, weight room, coaches’ offices, football stadium and track, and a Central Office facility
Because this is a fluid process, any updates will be outlined in future editions of The Current Orange Beach City Schools is excited for the future of our facilities!
Why Not Orange Beach?
Board President, Mr. Robert Stuart
In 1988, my wife Kasandra and I were newly married, and I started work for my father at Sugar Sands Realty & Mgmt in Orange Beach We were living in Fairhope and decided to move to the area We thought, "Why not Orange Beach?" This was before all the construction of the 1990’s had begun To put the time in context the only Phoenix buildings were I and II! We bought a double lot at the end of Washington Blvd which was still a clay road and built our first house to raise our family.
Over the years, it has been amazing to see the transformation from clay roads to world class destination, while welcoming all of the new families that now call our paradise home The amount of personnel and facilities it takes to support Orange Beach and its guests has turned us into a resort with no down time Our city leaders have done an amazing job, doing what it takes to keep us safe with approximately 6500 full time residents that welcome 100,000 guests to our town For years, our only attraction was the beach, but now we have numerous attractions: plays and concerts, restaurants, sports tournaments, fishing charters, and complexes like The Wharf that offer so much to our citizens and guests.
WHY NOT ORANGE BEACH?
To move a community forward, there are a couple of boxes that must checked: healthcare and schools Mayor Kennon and the City Council have taken huge steps towards providing comprehensive medical facilities and a commitment to provide more for our piece of paradise. Our city leaders took the greatest step you can take for education to benefit our children and grandchildren by voting to break away from Baldwin County Schools and forming Orange Beach City Schools. At the March 15, 2022 meeting there was a unanimous vote to succeed from Baldwin County and to take control of the education and activities for our most valuable and cherished asset
WHY NOT ORANGE BEACH?
The City Council moved forward and selected the first school board with Shannon Robinson, Randy McKinney, Nelson Bauer, Tracie Stark and myself. One of the greatest honors I’ve received was being named President of the Orange Beach City School Board. The wealth of knowledge and experience of those I serve with is amazing Each of us brings our own strengths and, without a doubt, we serve how a real school board should and one hundred percent of our time, effort, and money is spent on making Orange Beach City Schools the best possible Our first order of business was hiring our superintendent Through our attorney we advertised the position and interviewed several qualified applicants for the position but in the end, there was no question that Superintendent Randy Wilkes was the person for the job. There have been and will be many school system splits and most take a year or better to work out. Together, with the help of many. we did what many thought impossible, we completed the transfer in three months.
WHY NOT, WE ARE ORANGE BEACH
From the time of the separation until the beginning of the school year, we saw a double digit increase in enrollment When many parts of the state and country are seeing teacher shortages, 73% of our teachers have advanced degrees We also have no shortage of substitute teachers. According to Niche.com, the top 19 of 20 best school districts in Alabama are city schools. Our goal is to be the ranked #1 in the state and beyond. Under Superintendent Wilkes' leadership some goals we have are:
Safety We want the safest learning environment possible for our students and staff The board has approved cameras, alert system software and hardware for our schools and athletic facilities, vape detectors, drug testing and highly trained SRO’s provided by Orange Beach Police Department
Attendance Accountability begins with students being in class. We will work with students and their families to make sure our attendance goals are met.
ACT and ACAP scores Our benchmark is based on where we were when we split from county We must do better to equip our students for life after high school and put them in the best position to be successful Literacy Act We strive to have 100% of our 3rd grade students to benchmark and reading on at least a 3rd grade level We will help any student that needs the extra help to get there
Development of the whole child – from K4 – 12 It is our responsibility to not only help our children academically, but to broaden their horizons through a diverse curriculum, award winning arts, championship winning athletics, and a wide array of clubs and organizations to keep students involved We already have dual enrollment opportunities with Alabama, Auburn, and Coastal Community College
Character development Beginning with yes ma’am and no ma’am, yes sir and no sir, sometimes the simple things make a difference It is important for students to be involved with some sort of public service, like volunteering for school, city, or MAAAC events There is power in giving back and showing a servant’s heart to children Taking pride in our schools and community is a goal that we will strive for.
Setting a Bar of Excellence Providing an environment and education that will make people to not only move here for our beaches and way of life but for their children’s education
When I was elected to Baldwin County Board of Education, I thought that was where the Lord wanted me Little did I know He was preparing me for something much greater I look back on the decision to build on that clay road and all the years spent in this beautiful, amazing town. I understand now, why Orange Beach. This town that has blessed my family and I more than I could ever imagine, and it is my duty to do my small part. I love Orange Beach, I’m proud of Orange Beach City Schools and all who are part of it I look forward to all the great things to come and so should you GO MAKOS!!!
Tracey Stark leaving Orange Beach City Schools Board of Education
Please join us in wishing Orange Beach City School Board Member, Mrs. Tracey Stark, the very best on her next adventure. Mrs. Stark was instrumental in the creation of our new school district. Her vision and genuine commitment to student success and well-being have helped to lay the foundation for future generations of Makos. We are indebted to her for her service and unwavering dedication to our schools and community. While we are saddened to see her leave Orange Beach, we know that she will positively impact any community where she lives. Good luck, Mrs. Stark! You will be truly missed.
The TIKIS of OBES participated in the Cardboard Challenge...
The Cardboard Challenge stems from "Caine's Arcade." This nation-wide initiative challenges kids to foster creativity and handson learning. Students created arcade games using only cardboard. Not only did our students flex their creative minds, but they also had fun learning, trouble-shooting, and building together. OBES is striving to take learning beyond textbooks, implementing ways for students to acquire hands-on skills and real-world applications! Way to go, TIKIS!!
For more information on this program and its origins, click this link for a great video. ** TIKIS (Talented, Intellectual, Kind, Interesting Students)
Something to "Crow" About
Once again, there is a lot to "crow" about this month. In terms of student achievement our teachers and students are making it happen! Scores are in from AP exams, PSAT, and PreACT, and our students have been recognized for their successes on each level These students have certainly raised the bar We expect so many more great scores to come!
I also wanted to share recognition for three of our teachers who met their A+ College Ready AP Exam qualifying score goals from the 2022 exams Anabel Bamberg, Ashely Arnould, and Kim McBee all exceeded the minimum scores needed to meet their goal This earned them an additional $1000 bonus incentive, as well as stipends for all of the qualifying scores themselves Ben Slaton and Shauna Henry also earned stipends for passing scores. Great job!
Further praise to OBMS, on Nov 10th, 2022, the ALSDE State School Board passed a Resolution recognizing Orange Beach Middle School being named a 2021 2022 A+ “School of Excellence!"
While this doesn't cover all the remarkable things in our schools, it's certainly worth spreading the word As we continue to grow as a school system, OBCS is fully committed to fostering and improving student achievement and success
Pictured: From top down: 1 Mrs Arnould’s AP Psychology classes took a creative process to learn and review the parts of the brain and their functions using shower caps and labels! Then, they turned the information shared into an FRQ response 2 High school students were recognized for achievement on PreACT tests 3 Middle School students are recognized for achievement on PSAT 3 Mr Pouncey pictured with State Superintendent, Dr Mackey receiving award as A+ School of ExcellenceRandy Wilkes, Superintendent
As my friends and family gather together this holiday season, it is natural to refocus on what is truly important in my life I feel grateful for all those who have poured themselves into the creation of our new school district, focusing on what is best for our children While we are still in our infant stages, I am thankful for the energy and determination our teachers and administrators continue to demonstrate, as they help our students achieve personal success We are all Creating a Lasting Legacy, and I am excited to know this is only the beginning Wishing all of Mako Nation a safe and happy holiday season Mary Courtney, Special Projects Coordinator