Spirit activities under discussion in De Pere
By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – In typical years, when global pandemics haven’t thrown a wrench into things, around 70 percent of students at De Pere High School participate in some form of spirit activity.
“That’s high, and we’re happy with that, but we constantly strive to make it higher,” De Pere High School Principal Nick Joseph told school board members at a Monday, April 5, committee meeting.
Joseph shared his school’s offerings of around 13 athletic groups and some 70 clubs and activities, ranging from French Club and dog club to Peace Jam and theme-day dress-up weeks.
He said spirit theme-day dress-up weeks are as popular with faculty as with students.
Joseph also shared findings from student-interest surveys for future events.
One surprise he reported: Students aren’t that fond of pep rallies.
Only 48 percent of the student body participated in the 2019 Octobird Weekend rally.
Thirty percent said they had no interest in future Octobird pep rallies, and 22 percent said they would be interested.
Although some sports are carrying on, spirit activities haven’t returned to their pre-pandemic levels, and it’s not certain when they will.
“It’s a big decision predicated on the vaccine rollout and something we won’t be able to discern until this summer,” said Superintendent Ben Villarruel. “Just because we talk about it (a particular activity) doesn’t mean we will do it, and it doesn’t mean we won’t.”
He gave an update on the state of COVID-19 in the district: 112 students are in quarantine this week, consisting of a grade school class of 20 students who were exposed, a sports team of 30 students who were exposed and the remaining 62 students were exposed through travel or community contact.
For the foreseeable future, masks will continue to be the norm inside school buildings.
“The recent overturning of the governor’s mask recommendation doesn’t affect your ability to ask that masks be worn in the buildings,” Villarruel said.
The district is continuing to do virus contact tracing, he said, adding despite the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent overruling of Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate, anyone entering schools in the district must wear a mask.
“It doesn’t matter whether you are a student, parent, contractor, visitor or if you’ve had the virus or been immunized, you are still required to wear a mask,” he said.
In other news, heads of two departments updated the board on purchases of materials.
Shelly Thomas, district director of curriculum, talked about new algebra books from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, priced at slightly more than $34,000.
Eric Piepenberg, director of technology for the district, and Andy Bradford, principal at Foxview Intermediate School, gave the board details about results of an RFP for Chromebooks and desktop computers.
The purchase includes 120 desktop computers, 120 monitors and 1,000 Chromebooks.
Piepenberg said they’re needed to keep up with the four-year replacement cycle.
Because of the pandemic, instead of sharing Chromebooks, students in grades 2 through 6 have individual Chromebooks.
The price tag on the technology items is $366,360.