District-wide updates to the dress code were some of the most noticeable changes to the Stoughton Area School District’s operations in 2018-19.

In addition to generally loosening rules for clothes, hatwear and footwear and clarifying what sort of content on clothes is objectionable, the district also made schedule changes to the high school schedule and continued to evolve and update its security training and procedures.

The district continued to expand its infrastructure for science, technology, engineering, arts and math and continued its Innovation Grants program

Stoughton High School received some awards and honors, one teacher won a Kohl Fellowship and another published a book.

The midyear change to the dress code was the most sweeping of the changes, adding more permissible clothing but specifically prohibiting apparel that depicts hate speech targeting groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation or any other protected groups.

Dress code revisions

Changes to the dress code took effect in January for all K-12 students, and it was the result of work done by a committee of staff and students who reviewed codes and conducted research to update the apparel section of the student handbook.

Some of the changes included the types of clothing and footwear.

The district began allowing students to wear “slippers” to school provided they are “both safe and non-destructive to school property.”

The new rule states clothing must cover undergarments (waistband and bra straps excluded), and pants, skirts, shorts or the equivalent must be worn at or above the hips. The previous rules stated that “navels and undergarments are not to be exposed.”

The updated rules state hats and other headwear must allow the face to be visible and not interfere with the line of sight to any student or staff, and hoodies must allow the student’s face and ears to be visible. Previously, hats, hoods, visors, bandanas, scarves, sunglasses, hair picks and chains were not allowed to be worn in schools.

The new rules specifically prohibit clothing that depicts “controlled substances, pornography, nudity or sexual acts” or “hate speech targeting groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation or any other protected groups.

The previous code prohibited wearing any apparel on school grounds – clothing, backpacks, folders or jewelry – with inappropriate language, pictures or slogans, such as those promoting alcohol, drugs or tobacco or anything interpreted as sexual innuendos, gang affiliations or with racist overtones.

Innovation Grants continue

Now in its fifth year, the Innovation Grants program is continuing to provide district educators paths – and funding – to explore new, creative programming. The grants are budgeted from the district’s general fund to provide seed money for an action research study or to develop an innovative idea that aligns to the district’s strategic plan.

At River Bluff Middle School, educators organized “community nights” at the school where families got a chance to meet educators, play games and enjoy a free meal. At Sandhill Elementary, staff provided increased extracurricular opportunities for students.

At Stoughton High School, educators brought together community partners and students to help them see world languages being used in daily lives outside of the classroom during a “Go Global” conference. And throughout the district this year, students who ride buses to and from school got to use free WiFi to help finish homework.

SHS schedule change

Stoughton High School had a slight alteration in students’ schedules for the spring semester this year.

The new schedule looks similar to the old one, with seven periods and two lunches.

The changes include the elimination of Academic Homeroom and extended lunch, and an extension of the second period with a 40-minute lunch for all students. The extended time was used for study time, ALICE information, survey dissemination, digital citizenship and pre-arranged teacher access.

Recognition for SHS

For the second straight year, Stoughton High School received the WIAA Award of Excellence, which recognizes schools for their efforts and achievements in the areas of sportsmanship, ethics, integrity, leadership and character.

SHS was also the Region 5 Winner of the Wisconsin Association of School Councils Spirit of Excellence Award for achievements in leadership development, school spirit, sportsmanship and service to school and community.

The SHS Quiz Bowl program also qualified for the national tournament for the ninth consecutive year, and a Stoughton High School student competed in a statewide fab lab competition.

STEAM expansion

Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) programming continues to ramp up around the district.

Sandhill Elementary started its own lab, with a variety of tools and “toys,” including two Sprout computers with which kids can create three-dimensional items, and a coding program where kids can create robots. A new 3D printer was installed at the Kegonsa Elementary Library Media Center, where kids selected Mother’s Day projects to create, and Stoughton High School began teaching computer science classes.

ALICE training

The district continued its ongoing ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) training, which buildings and grounds supervisor Luke Butz called ALICE “one of the most important pieces of our overall safety program.” Butz, who recently completed certification to be an ALICE trainer, helped coordinate the “active threat drills” at each of the schools late last month and another at the beginning of the year.

Kohl Fellowship

River Bluff reading specialist Sarah Miller was awarded a 2019 Kohl Teacher Fellowship from the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation.

Both she and the district received a $6,000 grant, and Miller was recognized at a banquet this spring.

Former educator writes book

Former SASD teacher Linda Romblom had her first children’s book “Adventures of Princess Isabella – The Leprechaun” published earlier this year by Author House and released in time for Saint Patrick’s Day.

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.