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RCAS Internet > Administration > Superintendent > SuperintendentPublicBlog
RCAS Receives Bush Prize Award for Mathematics

Last month, RCAS received the Bush Prize Award in the amount of $310,327. This money will allow the district to continue the Project PRIME (Promoting Reflective Inquiry in Mathematics Education) grant activities that began in 2002.


Project PRIME is a partnership between Black Hills State University, Rapid City Area Schools, and Technology and Innovation in Education (TIE). The goal of the project is to become more effective together to achieve breakthroughs in mathematics teaching and learning. As a result of the Project PRIME, classroom instruction has improved, student achievement has increased and the achievement gap between Native American and non-Native American students has declined.


“This new project allows RCAS to continue a valuable partnership with Black Hills State University and TIE,” said RCAS Curriculum Director Diana Koch.  “Project PRIME will provide opportunities for the collaboration of university and high school math teachers, as well as the creation of dual-enrollment math coursework, which offers high school students the opportunity to earn college math credit.”


Koch said although the focus is often on students when it comes to learning, teachers also need the ability to build upon their professional skills and stay sharp. This award will help make that more feasible.


“The funds will mostly be used for professional development for math teachers, learning lab activities between BHSU and RCAS, and leadership teams within RCAS,” said Koch. 


RCAS was chosen as the winner of the Bush Prize based upon the collaboration between Center for the Advancement of Mathematics and Science Education, TIE, RCAS, and BHSU to increase math instruction in grades K-16.


“This is a new prize offering from The Bush Foundation, so it was the first time for everyone,” said Koch. “We are truly grateful for the award and excited to advance our teachers’ and students’ skills in mathematics.”


For more information about Project PRIME, watch this YouTube video by the Bush Foundation.

SHS Future Business Leaders of America Students Win at State Competition

Stevens High School’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Chapter competed in the South Dakota State Competition in Pierre, S.D., on April 14 and 15. Seven SHS FBLA members competed against 430 other students in a variety of business-related events (63 events).


All first place winners in qualifying events advance to the National FBLA Competition at the end of June in Nashville, Tenn. The winners are:


1st Place: American Enterprise System Project-Garret Trupe, JiSun Paschal, Kaleah Evans

2nd Place: Emerging Business Issues-Garret Trupe, Riley Ackerman, Kaleah Evans

3rd Place: Entrepreneurship- Kaleah Evans, JiSun Paschal, Becca Golliher

3rd Place: Management Decision Making-Riley Ackerman, Garret Trupe

4th Place: Global Business Issues-Alex Fichter, Tanner Blank

5th Place: Business Ethics-Alex Fichter, Tanner Blank, John Gunderson


The 1st Place American Enterprise System Project has been attached in the email with this release for viewing. In it, you’ll find background information about the project and details about the difference FBLA students are making at SHS.


“I am very proud of the students and their creative contributions to the American Enterprise Project and for all of them placing at the State FBLA Competition,” states Deb Reynolds, SHS FBLA Advisor.

SHS Student to Play with Black Hills Symphony Orchestra

On Feb. 22, twenty high school musicians competed for cash and the chance to play with the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra at the 35th annual Young Artist Competition. Jamuna Buchanan, Stevens High School student, was chosen as the winner and will perform with the symphony on Saturday, April 12.


This year’s competition featured instrumentalists on violin, viola, cello, piano and oboe. The competition is sponsored by the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra and the Black Hills Symphony League.

SHS Basketball Player Takes Home Several Athletic Awards

Every year there are certain athletes who stand out among the rest. Stevens High School Basketball Guard Steven Schaefer was definitely one of them and is ending his senior year with a handful of awards acknowledging his talent.


For starters, The Argus Leader, Sioux Falls’ daily newspaper, recently named Schaefer Player of the Year.


SHS Boys Basketball Head Coach Derris Buus was not the slightest bit surprised by this because of Schaefer’s positive attitude and actions on and off the court


Guys love playing with him. They understood what Steven is capable of doing and they understood their role on the team very well and loved it,” said Buus, who has coached Schaefer for approximately three years. “Steven was a very positive role model for our young kids and they really appreciated the mentorship.”


Schaefer took home the Spirit of Su award in memory of Su Ann Big Crow during the Class AA Boys Basketball Tournament. He is also a finalist for the title of Mr. Basketball, which will be announced at a luncheon in Sioux Falls on May 4.


Schaefer’s basketball career will continue into summer, too. He was selected to play on the Class AA Boy’s All-State First Team as guard by the South Dakota Basketball Coaches Association and the South Dakota Sportswriters Association. During halftime, Schaefer will receive an additional award with the same title of Player of the Year by the SDBCA.


For more details about Schaefer’s basketball career, check out the story written by The Argus Leader, or another story by the Rapid City Journal.

Online Learning Tool ‘Edmodo’ Enhances 4th Grade Classroom

For some students, speaking out and sharing their opinions in the classroom can be intimidating. To help ease students’ nerves, one RCAS teacher uses Edmodo. Funny name, but Amanda Price, fourth grade teacher at Grandview Elementary, is seeing great results.


Edmodo is a free and secure K-12 social learning network connecting over 33 million teachers and students worldwide. Edmodo provides several tools that make managing the classroom easier for teachers. Teachers can create groups, post homework assignments, and use a built-in gradebook, calendar and library – and it all happens online.


The implementation of Edmodo within RCAS was initiated by teachers in the fall of 2011. Since its introduction, RCAS now has approximately 686 staff and 9,984 student accounts. During the 2012-2013 school year, RCAS teachers, students, and parents made 228,808 visits to Edmodo.


In Price’s classroom, she uses Edmodo for reading activities and Literacy Circles. When students finish a book, he or she will then go to the Book Review section Price set up and post a thorough summary of the book and whether or not they would recommend it to others. Price also uses Edmodo for online Literature Circles that allow students to communicate electronically as a group. Before Edmodo, her class would have traditional, face-to-face Literature Circles. These are also effective, but there would always be one or two children who would not participate in the discussion.


This is no longer the case.


“In our group we are there to support each other's thinking and learning,” said Price. “It is a safe place to share thoughts and respectfully challenge others' thinking. With Edmodo, even the shy or less assertive students have their say.”


Price said students are learning to support each other in ways she has not seen in traditional Literature Circles. Instead of accepting an answer from someone, students push each other to defend their thinking and continue conversations that might not happen face-to-face. Through this extended dialog, Price said students are building stronger relationships with each other, which allows them to trust more and take more risks, resulting in rich debate that enhances students’ comprehension.


“You always have those kids in the front row who have their hands waving in the air and that can be distracting to some children and shut down their thinking,” she said. “Edmodo allows for different rates of thinking and processing without the pressure of having to have an answer ‘right now’.”


Edmodo gives a voice to all students in her classroom – a voice they are then more likely to share when the keyboard is gone. Although much of the conversation happens online, Price is seeing students become more vocal in face-to-face interactions, as well. After they write summaries about books they have read, they converse in person with a partner about the summaries and decide what they should read next. Then the process repeats.


The communication isn’t just happening at school, either. Students, and even parents, can logon and post from home. Price said she does not typically assign students to post from home, but because students enjoy it so much she said she sees it happen often.


“I have logged on from home and kids have been posting at 8 and 9 p.m. I have had to tell kids that it's great you are logging in, but get to bed. I'll see you in the morning,” she said with a laugh.


Price said because Edmodo has been such a success for Literacy, she is hoping to expand it in the future to other areas of her classroom including math, spelling and social studies.


There are also many educator tools Price uses to enhance her own growth and teaching. Teachers can connect with each other on Edmodo to share resources and instructional strategies with other teachers from RCAS and others around the world.


Kevyn Klein, director of customer support at Edmodo, said Price is a wonderful example of how Edmodo can be effectively used for both students and educators alike.


“Edmodo's mission is to connect students with educators and resources they need to reach their full potential,” said Klein. “By fully utilizing the collaboration aspect of the network, Amanda is teaching students the valuable lesson of responsible communication, as well as creating a supportive classroom environment so students are learning both from her lessons and from each other.”

RCAS Lunchroom Meal Revamp Well Received

Beginning in 2011, RCAS students began seeing changes to their lunchroom meals. This was because in 2010, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, HHFKA, was passed, making school lunch meal patterns more closely aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This means a lunch plate consists of half fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains and low fat milk options.


“Kids’ favorite entrees like pizza and chicken nuggets are still available, but portion sizes are more realistic and balanced according to age group,” said Janelle Peterson, Food Service Supervisor.


Students are becoming more familiar and accepting of the assortments of fresh produce to choose from, said Peterson. Although it can at times be a struggle, just like when a student goes into a classroom to learn subjects like math or English, they go into the lunchroom to learn good eating habits.


“The lunchroom is just another classroom where children can be exposed to fruits and vegetables to craft good eating habits,” said Peterson.


Studies show it can take 12 to 15 exposures to a particular food before students develop a taste for it. When parents serve fresh produce at home, students get those extra exposures. The RCAS Food Service knows that food budgets are tight and parents may not be able to purchase as many fresh produce items as they would like to. Therefore, RCAS Food Service strives to make sure families qualifying for free or reduced lunches take advantage of that program.


“Every meal we offer is reimbursable, meaning no matter any student’s ability to pay, they all have the opportunity to eat the same food,” Peterson said.


According to the USDA, the average daily participation in school lunches decreased from 31.6 million students during 2012 to 30.7 million during 2013 (data as of March 7, 2014). Despite what many lunchrooms around the nation are seeing, Peterson said this isn’t the case for RCAS, which has actually seen school lunch participation steadily increase.


Peterson attributes the steady participation to the large number of lunch options provided to students. Middle school students typically have four different lunch options that include a fruit and vegetable bar. Six different options are given to high school students, which includes a fruit and vegetable bar and a make-to-order sub sandwich line.


Having choices is one way Peterson said students are more likely to clean their plates.


Everyone likes choices,” she said. “Students can get bored with the same thing all the time and so this way they have numerous options.”


Another implementation by HHFKA is set to take effect in July regarding sodium requirements. Because the RCAS Food Service staff tries to stay ahead of the game, meals shouldn’t change much, if at all, said Peterson.


“Students will see minimal changes to the menu, as most of the food served now already meets the new sodium targets,” said Peterson.


To find out what’s on the breakfast and lunch menu month-to-month in schools, go to and under the “Parents & Students” tab choose “Lunch Menus and Applications”. Once there, choose grade level.


For general information, or to find out more about the Free and Reduced Meal Program, call 394-4061, or go to, and choose the Parent & Students Tab, Family Access Tab. You will need to log-in to Family Access. Once there, you will see a food service tutorial. The application will be under Food Service.
Stevens to Host 5K for Students in Need

Stevens High School Raiders of Character students will lace up their shoes for, well, shoes May 9 as it hosts the Fourth Annual Raiders of Character 5K Run/Walk.


The Raiders of Character’s (ROC) main mission is to build a community of character at SHS. In keeping with this mission, students chose to adopt a main charity theme of providing shoes. The only charitable event of its kind, this event has given over $1,000 worth of shoe gift cards to students in need.


Ashley Battisti, SHS senior and ROC president, said this year the charity will include clothing gift cards to Plato’s Closet. She says this way students in need have a way to get clothes of good quality, while also getting a bigger bang for their buck.


“We’ve always done shoes but then we were thinking, ‘What if they need jeans or sweaters, too?’ and decided to build upon the event,” she said.


Although the event took a lot of planning, Battisti said she and other ROC students are happy to do it.


“We really want to get people excited about service because once you get involved you become addicted and you just want to keep doing more and more,” she said. “The more people who involved with service projects like this, the greater place our community will be for everyone.”


Paula Wilson, SHS educator who is assisting in the planning of the event, said the run/walk is relatively easy, making it the perfect course for beginner or avid runners. The course is made-up of mostly flat terrain and can be taken at leisure or at a faster pace, depending on preference.


Battisti is hoping for a large turnout to help as many students in the area as possible.


“This is a great way for the young generation to get involved and build a heart for service so more events like this can happen in the future,” she said.  


To register for the 5K Run/Walk, click here, or contact Paula Wilson at 394-4025 for more information. Pre-register before April 25 to secure an event T-shirt.

Fourth Quarter Press Conference Scheduled for March 24

Superintendent, Dr. Timothy Mitchell, will present his Fourth Quarter Press Conference for the 2013-2014 school year on Monday, March 24, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. in the Council Chambers of the City School Administration Center, 300 Sixth Street, Rapid City. The press conference is scheduled to last approximately one hour.


The purpose of press conference will be to update all Rapid City Area Schools stakeholders on the progress of the Rapid City Area Schools. Mitchell will highlight work completed and next steps to be taken on numerous strategic priorities identified by the Rapid City Area School Board and administration. The event will include a 30-minute message and then time will be made available for questions. The session is open to the public and media. The press conference will be televised live on Midcontinent Cable TV Channel 19 and WOW! Cable TV Channel 143. Rebroadcasts will then be run regularly on each of the channels.


Please contact the Superintendent’s Office of the Rapid City Area Schools for more information by calling 394-4031 or emailing We sincerely appreciate your support of education and look forward to seeing you on March 24.

Common Core PSA Now Live on District Website

Midwest Marketing and RCAS work together to periodically create public service announcements. The newest PSA to go live is one featuring information about the Common Core Standards.


For this PSA, three RCAS teachers were interviewed to give their opinion and insight about how the Common Core influences their teaching and classroom.


To watch the PSA, click here or go to, click on the Administration tab and choose the Superintendent of Schools option. Once there, click the Superintendent Video Archive link in the body of the page beneath the video player. You’ll be taken to a page with a list of PSAs. The newest PSA is called “The Common Core”.


While you’re there, check out some of the other great PSAs we have posted and thank you for watching.


For more information, contact the Superintendent Office at 394-4031.

Topics to Watch at March 18 BOE Meeting

The following is a list of topics to watch during the March 18 Board of Education meeting. This meeting will take place in the Council Chambers of the City/School Administration Center – 300 Sixth St. – at 5:30 p.m. There are several topics up for recognition and discussion, including a staff recognition, Project PRIME, Agriscience Instructional Materials, Performing Arts Center Signage Request, the Five-Year Capital Outlay Plan, RCAS policy revisions, and WDT policy deletions.


Staff Recognition: Justin Conroy

Dr. Justin Conroy, Central High School Freshman House Assistant Principal, was recently selected as part of a select group from across the country to serve as a reader for the 2014 Gates Millennium scoring and selection process. The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) initiative provides African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college and graduate education for those students pursuing advanced degrees in mathematics, science, engineering, education, public health and library science. As a reader, Conroy will evaluate, analyze and provide insight to choosing GMS finalists.


For more information, click here.


Project PRIME:

Since 2002, Black Hills State University, Rapid City Area Schools, and Technology and Innovation Education (TIE), have partnered together to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics.


All three groups will be represented at this March 18 meeting and June Apaza from BHSU CAMSE will announce the winner of the Bush Prize Award in the amount of $310,327. The Bush Prize honors and supports organizations with a track record of making great ideas happen. Bush Prize winners accomplished a specific breakthrough project and were able to demonstrate that with “Project PRIME”.


For more information, click here.


Agriscience Instructional Materials:

The Board of Education will vote to approve the instructional materials for the 9-12 Agriscience Curriculum, which were presented at a previous board meeting and favorably reviewed by Instructional Council. The curriculum, if approved, would take effect in the fall of 2014.


For more information about the proposal, click here.


Performing Arts Center Sign Request:

The BOE will vote on whether or not to approve the Performing Arts Center Signage Request for a new sign on top of the south side entrance of the Rapid City Performing Arts Center.


Five-Year Capital Outlay Plan:

The BOE will be reviewing the Five-Year Capital Outlay Plan outlining the construction of new facilities, building renovations and additions, etc. For background information about the capital outlay process, click here. To see the proposed draft up for board approval, click here. 


RCAS Policy Changes:

Several RCAS policies are under review again this next week with a possible three revisions and one new policy. Policies regarding cash in school buildings, fiscal management-purchase cards, and homework will be revised. The relations with political organizations policy is being newly proposed for consideration by the board. To see the list detailing each policy, click here and review the policies in Item #11, A through D.


Western Dakota Tech Policy Deletions:

Over the course of several meetings, the board has been reviewing WDT policies. This process will continue this week and the board will be reviewing the possible deletion of seven WDT policies. To see the full list of deletions, click here and look at Item #12 on the agenda.


For more information about the above items, call 394-4031. To view the full agenda, click here.

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