November 2019 CommUNITY Connection
Thanks for being part of our Mason City Schools family! We're thankful for our dedicated staff, hard-working students, engaged families, & supportive community - who make Mason a wonderful place to live, learn and grow. We wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving.
Mason School Board Approves Levy Request
During the November 19 school board meeting, Superintendent
Jonathan Cooper made a critical recommendation to the Board of Education to put an operating levy on the March 17, 2020 ballot. The school board unanimously approved the resolution.

Watch Mr. Cooper share why Mason City Schools need a levy, and what’s at stake.

It has been 15 years since Mason City Schools voters passed an operating levy. This levy doesn’t add new people or programs. It keeps what we have. 
  • The levy will keep our teachers so that they can continue giving more individualized attention. 
  • The levy protects investments in safety and mental wellness personnel and programs.
  • The levy will preserve existing educational services, programs and opportunities for students.
  • This levy maintains our momentum.

The levy will cost $13.75 a month per $100,000 of a home’s true value, or $165 a year.

MMServes Mason Christian Village
On November 23, two school buses of Mason Middle School students and their families arrived at Mason Christian Village excited to hang out with residents, and to roll up their sleeves as part of the Mason Christian Village cleaning crew! Seventh and eighth graders and residents played modified kickball with pool noodles, volleyball with balloons, painted, and sang Christmas Carols.

Principal  Lauren Gentene  notes how important it is to give teens the opportunity to serve; sharing how giving back is critical for growing empathy and can help connect families.

See more on the MMServes.
MECC Students Invited to Inaugural Opening of Common Ground Playground at Makino Park
After 12 years of planning and fundraising by the Mason Parks Foundation, the City of Mason’s Common Ground Playground at Makino Park held its inaugural opening on November 14. Mason Early Childhood Center students were invited as guests of honor, and were among the first to play and enjoy this wonderful resource for ALL children! 

“For staff who recall the first ideations around this inclusive space, it was a treat to see all of the creativity and labor come full circle,” said MECC Principal Melissa Bly. “We are so thankful that our MECC Comet Kids (and students from around the region) have this incredible space to play.”

Numerous community organizations have helped contribute to the playground over the years through fundraisers, sporting event benefits, and awareness.

See more on the inaugural opening .

Mason School Board Approves 5 Year Financial Forecast
The Mason City Schools Board of Education recently approved the high-performing school district’s five year financial forecast.

The forecast projects the district to be $13 million in the hole by 2022. Because 54 percent of the district’s operating revenue is generated by or related to property taxes, an operating levy will be needed to make up the difference, Bevan said. Mason City Schools voters last passed an operating levy in 2005. 
“This is the inevitability that every school district faces. That’s just the way Ohio funds schools. House Bill 920 requires that schools go back on the ballot because school districts do not receive inflationary increases as property values rise,” he said.
House Bill 920 is like a guaranteed tax price for homeowners. Over time, the value of a home fluctuates, and the rise or fall of the value affects the property tax a homeowner pays. When voters approve a levy, HB 920 says voters have agreed to pay a set amount of additional money to fund local programs and that amount can’t change. If a property value goes up, the levy rate, or the percentage of tax charged on that property, must come down, and vice versa. The goal is to ensure the average homeowner pays about the same amount over the course of the levy.
“It will have been 15 years since Mason City Schools passed an operating levy. We will not be able to continue our current programming and opportunities for students without additional revenue,” said Cooper. 

See more of the f inancial forecas t .
School Walking Club Helps Students be Best Version of ME
Mason Elementary School third and fourth graders are on the move as part of a school-wide program relaunched this fall. Each Wednesday, students line up eagerly to "clock their miles." Over 75 percent of students are participating, and students clocked in 1564.80 miles just in October! 

"When [fourth grade] was part of Mason Intermediate, we formed a recess committee to find new activities for the students to do during recess since we did not have a playground. Other areas schools do walking programs, so we started looking into options for our campus. The PTO sponsored our Wednesday Walking Club in 2018. This year, upon returning, we decided to continue Walking Wednesdays at the 3-4 level, and Mr. Powell was totally onboard to fund the program through the school budget. Even though we have a playground now, many children have expressed an interest in other activities. We found that the Walking Club gives kids a calming activity during recess. Sometimes the playground can get loud and over stimulating for many kids. Wednesdays are a great time for them to try a new physical activity during recess time," explains  Laura Franz , one of the Walking Committee organizers.

R ead more about ME's Walking Club .
Mason City Schools Honor Veterans
Students and staff throughout the Mason City School District celebrated and honored Veterans with parades, letters, breakfasts, songs, and more on November 11.

Mason Intermediate School held its twelfth annual school-wide Veterans Day Parade and Celebration - and this year with Mason Elementary sharing the building a whole new crop of third and fourth graders were able to join in the celebrations. The parade traveled the route from the MI cafeteria to the ME gym. Third, fourth and sixth grade students waved hand held flags in the hallways as Veterans and their student hosts walk the parade route.
The beautiful program included poems read by fifth graders selected by their peers, and songs from the MI Choir under the direction of Marylee Vennemeyer and with support from STEAM teachers Nick Washington and Jim Vennemeyer

Former US Air Force Master Sergeant Mark Haake shared, “I was so honored to be asked by our neighbor Mitalee to be her guest as Mason Intermediate recognized veterans. The kids read poems they wrote, asked questions about our service and then we walked through the halls getting high fives by hundreds of kids. Then they held an assembly where they sang patriotic songs. Thanks so much to all of the staff and students at MI. What an amazing start to the day!”
MECC Classes Take Action to Support Children Experiencing Homelessness
"I can feel someone else’s feelings in my heart," is what Mason Early Childhood Center students chant together as they learn about the Comet Kid stance of empathy. 

MECC second graders in  Sarah Grinstead Michelle Jarmon Sarah Krugman Christy Moreland , and
Soroya Smith's classes  recently practiced the skill of showing empathy by collecting items to complete kits for Greater Cincinnati children experiencing homelessness.  

"Our school partners with  Mindful Music  to help our students calm and focus their minds and bodies. One of the selections of music we listened to was composed by a local composer Peter Adams and children from the   Upspring Program  Blink Cincinnati . We learned that the children from the Upspring program are children in the Cincinnati area experiencing homelessness. As the students heard the voices of these children and the inspiration of their voices talking about the light within their hearts, we felt compelled to practice the empathy we are learning about each day and do something," said Smith.

R ead more about how our students helped .
Mason Students Collaborate with Gr. Cincy Peers to Coach Parents on Appropriate Game Day Support
We’ve all seen them. Heated adults in the crowd or on the sidelines, shouting loudly during their children’s performances. Sometimes it’s even more subtle. Parents may make negative comments or put unnecessary pressure on their kids before the game.

Mason students are joining peers from around the Greater Cincinnati region to tackle this issue as part of a real-world learning event known as Project Chaos. Approximately 100 students from Mason, Lakota, Loveland, Middletown and Butler Tech recently worked together to offer solutions on how best to help coach parents on supportive involvement in youth sports.

Students have collaborated at the Procter and Gamble GYM, Butler Tech’s School of the Arts and Mason High School's Learning Commons.
MHS students Simran Tickoo, Jayda Malloy, Tara Maine, Tani Madichetti  and  Sophia Palermo  helped host and organize the event held in Mason.

Read more about the students' solutions .
ME & MI Scientists Share Research at Schools' 1st Specialized Classroom Science Fair
On November 12, Mason Elementary and Mason Intermediate School held their very first Science Fair specifically geared for students in the specialized classrooms that help educate children with developmental disabilities or neurodiversity. The young scientists donned lab coats and goggles, and presented their research projects to Mason staff. 

Eryn Kramer , Mason Elementary Social Communication and School Fundamentals Intervention Specialist, had the vision for the science fair for her students.

"We were completing a unit on scientific inquiry, and one of our vocabulary terms was 'science fair.' We read a few books about science fairs, and I had the idea to do our own! I shared the idea with my colleague and teaching partner, Shannon Mould , and before we knew it, we were rolling with it!" Kramer explained.

See more from the science fair .
Mason's Protzman Receives National Recognition as Exemplary Music Educator
The National Association for Music Education announced that Edward Protzman , Director of Bands at William Mason High School, is the recipient of the 2019  George N. Parks Award for Leadership in Music Education . Protzman  received the award during the Opening Ceremony at the  Bands of America Grand National Championships
on  November 14.

“It is a great honor to be awarded the George N. Parks Leadership in Music Education Award,” said Ed Protzman. “To be recognized for the leadership and music education ideals that guided George N. Parks in his life and teaching is humbling. I hope that in sharing these qualities with students, families, and colleagues I have made a positive impact on their lives.  I encourage fellow music educators to live their music education careers as a life-changing journey. As you take this journey, mentor, and be mentored, help students become the best versions of themselves, build friendships, create and share great music. Do not be afraid to create your own path and disturb the universe.”

Read more about Mr. Protzman .
23 Mason Students Participate in the Ohio Music Education Association District 13 Honors Orchestra
In November, 23 Mason Middle School and Mason Intermediate students participated in the Ohio Music Education Association District 13 Honor Orchestra. The two ensembles were comprised of advanced orchestra students from Mason and six other local school districts. 
Students were nominated by their directors, 
Rachel Bakhit , Erin Brasse, Caitlyn Lana,  and  Kristen Thiel  based on video auditions. Several middle school students were then given leadership roles as section leaders and concertmasters within the two ensembles.  

"We are very proud of the hard work and dedication demonstrated by these wonderful students!" said Brasse and Thiel.  

See more on the Honors Orchestra .
Humans of Mason High School Instagram Supports
"Your Story Matters"
Inspired by the Humans of New York Instagram account that features interviews collected on the streets of New York, MHS student  Anvi Arora  decided to create her own: Humans of Mason High School - which focuses on celebrating the unique and diverse MHS student body and staff.

Arora moved to Mason her sophomore year, and recognized that it's sometimes hard to get to really know classmates in the large, culturally diverse, high-achieving school. After coming up with the idea, she invited some classmates to help contribute. The Instagram account has since become a collaborative effort with fellow seniors  Helena Li  and
Anushka Mukherjee .

The page has featured 34 stories so far, including a classmate from Nigeria explaining her love of fufu, a student giving his secret tip for avoiding cheeto dust - using chopsticks, a Latin-American classmate sharing how she navigates "two worlds," and a student explaining her grief following a friend's suicide.

Read more about Humans of Mason High School .
Mason High School Wind Symphony Selected as a Commended Winner

The Foundation for Music Education is pleased to announce the results of the 2019 Mark of Excellence Project. Three hundred and twenty of the finest high school and middle school musical ensembles in the United States entered the project, a record number! 
The Mark of Excellence consists of the  National Wind Band Honors, National Choral Honors, National Orchestra Honors, National Jazz Honors, and National Percussion Ensemble Honors . It is a competition, entered by recordings, in which the top quarter are selected as national Winners and the second quarter receive Commended Honors. Over the past 13 years, the project has received entries from thirty-eight states.   Mason High School   Wind Symphony , directed by  Edward Protzman , has been selected as a Commended Winner in the Mark of Excellence/National Wind Band Honors Project.

See more details on their achievement .
13 MI Students Earn Mason Firehouse Pizza Party for Outstanding Safety Posters
On November 10, Mason Elementary fourth grade fire safety contest winners enjoyed a pizza party at the Mason
fire station on Cedar Village Drive. Mason firefighters chose  Ellie Bethel, Keerthana Bejoy, Nathan Carter,  Zoe Chan,
Fiona Connors, Savannah Edwards, Maddie Hammond, Sarah Li, Kayla Marcotte, Anjali Nagar, Pooja Narayana, Ashton Nguyen, and Cain Silver's  posters as the most outstanding.  
This is the 18th year that art teacher  Maggie Moschell’s  students have participated in this statewide contest. At the pizza party,   the Fire Department announced  Fiona Connor’s  poster will be entered into the state contest. Moschell’s students have won the state contest a number of times. This year’s 13 state winners will be announced in May, and their posters will be displayed on the State Fire Marshall’s website.

Read more about our students visit with the Mason Fire Department.
Your Comets have been crowned the state tennis champs 3 years in a row! Please join us in congratulating these special student athletes & their coach, Mike Reid !

Read more about the tennis title .

Congratulations to the stellar William Mason HS Marching Band on finishing 7th place at BOA Grand National Finals with their amazing show, "What Lies Beneath!" This is the band’s eighth appearance in Finals.
Thank you to all of our students and
families for a fantastic season!
Thanks  WCPO - 9 On Your Side  &  Cincy Lifestyle  for this great story about ways we're teaching mindfulness in Mason. Two important factors in our  #CometCulture  work are (1) Press Pause & (2) Get Your
Mind Right. Beginning the day with Mindful Music marries mindfulness and classical music- helping us learn to be present so that we can choose disciplined responses.
As a way to honor the Class of 2005’s James Horning - a Mason Comet who passed away 15 years ago, the  JVH Foundation & the Horning Family  erected a beautiful, strong Mason M in front of the high school to remind all “there are special people in our lives that never leave us...even after they are gone.”

Your Comet XC team is State runner up. B eing a perennial powerhouse in Ohio high school cross country comes with a strong grounding of knowing what really matters - thanks to Coach Rapp . Appreciate the  Journal-News  for telling this stor y !

“We run a team concept, but we individualize within that team concept,” said Rapp.“At Mason, it’s easy to be big, it takes some work to be fast, it also takes work to be classy,” said Rapp. “I try to be an example of a coach who is very much encouraging when other teams do well."
We believe meaningful conversation over food can spark real and lasting change. On November 12, nearly 60 people attended our 2nd Diversity Council Dine-a-Logue. Former MCS Parent (and current resident and DEI Ambassador) Jenny Williams was a wonderful emcee as we discussed gender, ability, and the times we have felt invisible and hypervisible.  Many thanks to all who attended. It was a terrific opportunity to share a delicious meal with new friends. 

WLWT sat down and talked with two of our Hope Squad leaders, MHS senior Sean Crogan and MHS sophomore Audrey Glaser , about how students are changing the stigma around mental illness and depression, and giving their peers hope as they refer them to help.
Petty Officer Foley , father of Sawyer , recently visited MECC kindergartners in Ragan Reeves class and answered questions like "How do toilets flush on ships?" and "Have you ever seen a rocket blow stuff up? We are always grateful to our families for sharing their stories! Thank you Petty Officer Foley for your 13 years of service in the US Navy!

You may have seen these signs around Mason City Schools. They are part of the way that we continue to publicize our SafeSchools Tipline to let students, staff & visitors  #OwnTheMoment  to keep schools and students safe. Two years ago we resolved 55 tips. During the first 3 months of 2019-2020 we resolved 92 tips. 61% were suicidal ideation/self-harm & 10% were for a safety threat. We credit a lot of the increase to our MHS Hope Squad and other students who are saving lives by speaking up.
Mason City Schools has made a $1 million investment in School Safety personnel, and we're in our second year partnering with the City of Mason to ensure we have law enforcement in each school. Watch this terrific piece from  WLWT   to see how Officer Van Wagner helped teach age-appropriate ALICE training to MECC students during Comet Safety Week.
Mason Dance Center and Mason High School have once again partnered to raise money for MHS After Prom. The performance will take place on Sunday, December 15 at 1:00pm and 4:00pm at the Mason High School Theater. For tickets click here .

With Mason City Schools new school hours this year, we thought we'd share the schedule for a 2-hour delay, closing, and early dismissal. Stay warm!

Please read our Winter Weather Guidelines
Listen to our #YourStoryMatters podcast.

Your Story Matters brings Mason's rich culture to life through story. You'll hear stories from staff, students, and community members designed to celebrate diversity, passion, and purpose. Our stories weave our commUNITY together - let's listen and connect!