School Board Sees Ongoing Innovation

The Bemus Point Central School Board of Education heard reports from school administrators about the opening of school. Board members also toured a new MakerSpace room that will allow students to create and innovate. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

BEMUS POINT – Touring a new MakerSpace room inside Maple Grove High School, board of education members caught a glimpse of ongoing innovation in the district.

Michael Mansfield, Bemus Point Central School District superintendent, and Julie Verdonik, middle and high school principal, brought board members to the new space where students are allowed to simply create. Tentatively titled the “Red Dragon Maker Lab,” Jason VandeVelde, high school librarian, gave a presentation Monday on the newest addition to the building.

“In general, it’s a place to make things,” VandeVelde said. “Anything your mind can imagine. Come into the maker lab, you can design it, you can invent it, you can create it.”

The room features numerous mobile tables that allow for various types of projects like crafting, building, coding and access to electronics, among a wide variety of options. Additionally, the room includes a 3-D printer, a video studio, Legos, hot glue guns and lightboards. With mobile charging stations, VanderVelde said students do not have to worry about their laptops running out of battery while working in the new room.

VandeVelde emphasized the mobility of the room that allows for many different situations. He envisions the room being a space for students to collaborate with each other.

“We can do whatever we want with this space,” VandeVelde said.

The tour took place ahead of Monday’s board meeting when district administrators detailed the opening of school last week. Mansfield,Verdonik, Sonja DuBois, elementary principal, and Carrie Yohe, director of student programs and data, all presented during the meeting.

Mansfield laid out a few of the current goals for the district in the 2019-20 school year. Some of the topics he discussed with faculty ahead of opening school were teaching soft skills and cultivating a “destination” school district. He noted that reinforcing the emphasis on soft skills was a primary goal of the district last year.

“We will continue to push soft skills,” he said.

As for being a destination district, Mansfield said Bemus Point will continue its efforts in offering as many college accredited courses for students. The high school is even using more block scheduling to allow students to take as many advanced courses as they can without conflicting with their other classes.

Mansfield noted during his presentation that 69% of the senior class was enrolled in some College Connections course. Additionally, he said the school is looking to offer college courses all the way through ninth grade, even though options are limited early on in high school.

However, Mansfield, while desiring to be a “destination district,” said the student population is currently lower than its intended enrollment target of 700 students. He maintained that the district will prioritize enrollment going forward.