Perry School Board updated on PHS Connections, Food Pantry

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One of the topics discussed Monday at the monthly meeting of the Perry Community School District Board of Education was the new website created for Perry High School Connections, which can be accessed under the "Students" tab on the PHS home page.

The Perry Community School District Board of Education heard a pair of positive reports during Monday’s monthly meeting as they were informed of the increasing success of the PHS Connections program and of the continued services provided by the PHS Food Pantry.

Veronica Roshek presented board directors with a power-point demonstration highlighting the creation of a website for PHS Connections. The website can be accessed under the Students tab on the home page of the school website.

Set up as a private network for students and teachers, PHS Connections provides daily announcements and lesson plans and lets users retrieve other useful information from the site.

PHS Connections also involves a year-long class that meets in 20-minute sessions taken by all PHS freshmen. The class meets in home rooms each weekday except Wednesday.

Roshek said Mondays are used to check grades and update any contacts with a students’ PHS Connections advisor, while class time on Tuesdays and Thursdays is devoted to lessons, and Fridays are reserved for specific activities.

Many of those activities were “cross-grade,” Roshek said, in which students from different grades interact.

“The kids like it, and we use it as a team-building exercise,” she said. “It is all a part of making each student feel connected.”

Wendy Bollhoefer updated the board on the Success classes, of which she is the faculty leader.

Success classes are taken by all freshmen and last the entire school year. The class serves as a sort of freshmen initiation. Students receive on credit for the course, which is required but counts on the each student’s academic record as an elective.

Bollhoefer said the Success 101 webpage had been operating for some time and that teachers can use the site as a means of collaboration with each other.

The PHS Food Pantry served 87 individuals and 21 families last month while providing 149 "on-site meals" which are often nothing more than giving a student a granola bar or other small item.
The PHS Food Pantry served 87 individuals and 21 families last month while providing 149 “on-site meals” which are often nothing more than giving a student a granola bar or other small item.

Also addressing the board was Tami Valline and fellow guidance counselor Anne Horgen.

Valline detailed the services provided by the PHS Food Pantry, which currently serving approximately 20 families each month, she said.

She told the board that December and March — when students are on break — often see the greatest need, likely because students are not able to have both breakfast and lunch provided at the school. The numbers served drop dramatically in July and are typically low in August as well.

The pantry has a cooperative arrangement with the Iowa Food Bank, from which supplies can be accessed once a month and sometimes more often.

Valline noted that on-site meals are averaging 90 per month, but that “even giving a student a granola bar, or something small — that is still counted as an on-site meal for record-keeping purposes.”

In addition to food items, students or families in need may also receive personal-care items such as shampoo and soaps, plus school supplies and sometimes clothing. Items are given to students in backpacks, minimizing the embarrassment a student might feel if seen carrying items from the pantry.

“Backpacks are always a need for us,” Valline said. “We always need personal-care items as well, and donations (of money) are always useful.”

Donated funds are targeted for specific purposes, Valline said.

“An example might be that we receive three cases of peanut butter but no jelly,” she said. “We would then use those funds to go and buy jelly.”

The PHS pantry serves the middle school as well; Perry Elementary has its own program.

In the last 14 months, the PHS Food Pantry has served 1,473 individuals from 310 families and has provided 1,320 on-site meals for monthly averages of 105, 22 and 90, respectively.

“Some of these are what we call ‘frequent-flyers’ as they are the same individuals or families who come repeatedly for help,” Valline said. “We are definitely serving a need but hope the time comes when it won’t be necessary for a pantry.”

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