Team Dundalk recognized for high school’s improvement
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 12:45

The Dundalk Rennaissance Corporation honored “Team Dundalk” with its Cornerstone Award for the improvement at the high school. Representing Team Dundalk are (from left) Dundalk Athletic Boosters president Linda Jones, Dundalk High principal Tom Shouldice and PTSA president Maxine Erickson.photo by Roland Dorsey

DRC chooses school officials for Cornerstone

by Bill Gates

    It really was not all that long ago Dundalk High School was doing so poorly it had attracted the attention of the federal government.
    Poor test scores and failure to achieve federally-mandated Adequate Yearly Progress actually had the school in danger of being closed down.
    That was in the late 2000s.
    But, with Dundalk High set to move into a brand-new, freshly-constructed, state-of-the-art facility in the fall, it is obvious something has really turned around at the community’s namesake institution.
    The improvement has been a team effort, and “Team Dundalk” will be honored this weekend with the Dundalk Rennaissance Corporation Cornerstone Award.
    The DRC selected “Team Dundalk” for the award due to the improvement the school has made over the last five years, particularly in getting students engaged with the community.
    “Prior to that, we really didn’t have kids involved with the community,” said Principal Tom Shouldice, one of three people who will be presented with the award.
    “Now, they help in the Fall Festival, they get involved with the greening of Dundalk and in helping clean up Bread and Cheese Creek.”
    In addition to Shouldice, PTSA President Maxine Erickson and Athletic Booster Club president Linda Jones are the representative members of Team Dundalk.
    “Our goal has been to re-engage the community with the school, and the school with the community,” Shouldice said. “And, little by little, we’ve been doing that.
    “I expect that to flourish over the next couple of years.”
    Shouldice came to Dundalk High in 2008 and  started a massive turnover in the teaching ranks to find people he felt could help Dundalk High improve.
    High School Assessment scores have risen 40 percent in reading, 13 percent in mathematics and 19 percent in biology since 2009.
    The graduation rate, which often hurt Dundalk High in the Adequate Yearly Progress reports, had improved from 62 percent to 78 percent.
    The percentage of students moving on to college after graduation has improved from 52 percent to 74 percent.
    Getting students more involved in the community has been tough, Shouldice said, because so many students do not spend their entire four years at the school.
    “A lot of our kids are transient, and don’t have the ‘ownership’ of the community,” he said. “We want to change that, and the DRC recognizes the change.”
    Erickson, a Dundalk High graduate, has been involved with the PTSA for eight years.
    Under her leadership, the PTSA has encouraged students to get involved with the community in functions such as the Holiday Hoopla, Red Cross blood drives, book and clothing drives, musical performances in the community, the school’s Spring Festival, and The Cluster School Art Show.
    Jones, also a Dundalk graduate, has been the Athletic Booster Club president for the last three years and has been active in holding the club together.
    The Boosters raise funds for Dundalk High athletics through operating the “Owl Bistro,” the concession stand at basketball games and wrestling matches, and also run a concession stand during fall sports contests.
    “We’re working hard to change the culture in the school,” Shouldice said. “We’ve been successful, to a certain extent.
    “To get this award from the DRC blows me away. We’re a work in progress, and always will be a work in progress. But it’s nice to see they’re recognizing all we’re attempting to do.”