By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon business and community leaders were recently asked to help with a new transition home for special needs students.
Yukon Public Schools wants to utilize a renovated house on school-owned property along Garth Brooks Boulevard.
YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth told Yukon Chamber of Commerce members about the proposed project during a Nov. 9th luncheon inside the YPS Administration Building, 600 Maple.
Dr. Simeroth, in his 10th year leading the Yukon school district, presented his annual “State of the School” talk during the Yukon Chamber’s monthly membership luncheon.
Plans call for the opening of the transition (not residential) home where YPS students will learn skills to prepare them for independent living after they graduate high school.
“We need help with this,” Simeroth said.
Contractors will be solicited to provide their expertise and talents.
All sponsors will be recognized on signage in front of the house.
This is an opportunity for Yukon Chamber members to be “part of something that changes lives”, according to Simeroth.
“We want you to help and our businesses to be a partner in that,” the superintendent told the Yukon luncheon audience.
Community support was a prevalent theme of the YPS State of the School address.
YPS Board of Education President Suzanne Cannon, who represents region 10 on the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) Board of Directors, said the Yukon Chamber has been recognized statewide for presenting the annual New Teacher Luncheon.
BOND PROJECT UPDATES
Meanwhile, Dr. Simeroth provided updates about Yukon’s record-high $194 million bond issue package that voters resoundingly approved in November 2021.
Bond funds have been used for district-wide renovations and other upgrades – such as new playgrounds, furnishings, carpeting, technology, textbooks, athletic facilities, sports field turf, and school buses.
Other improvements are coming, including more playgrounds and a new Miller Stadium video board.
A two-year construction process will start in early 2024 on the Yukon High School campus, 1777 S Yukon Parkway, as contractors build the YPS Instructional and Performing Arts Center and Yukon Millers Activity Facility. Groundbreaking was Sept. 1 just south of the Wellness Center.
Simeroth highlighted features of the future YPS Instructional and Performing Arts Center during his presentation. Yukon schools’ chief described a “state-of-the-art” facility that’s “phenomenally expensive.”
The bond-funded building will house 17 new classrooms, a 1,500-seat auditorium and space for college and career programs like nursing, aviation/aerospace, media production, technology, and e-sports.
The YHS addition will provide more storage and practice rooms for fine arts – specifically, drama and a new orchestra program.
“We want to prepare our students for the future,” said Simeroth, citing the district’s association with Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
YPS officials are helping YHS students develop the skills they need to succeed after graduation – no matter what path they choose.
“We want them to be employed, enlisted or enrolled,” Simeroth pointed out. “Not all will go to college.”
With the YPS/SWOSU partnership, district employees receive half-price tuition for education classes and students will be able to earn an associate degree in a “early college” program.
“It’s all about these kids,” Simeroth reiterated.
TEACHERS OF THE YEAR
The Yukon school district recently announced its building “Teachers of the Year” for the 2023-24 school year.
These site winners were selected by their peers at their schools:
- Central Elementary – Kristen Martin
- Myers Elementary – Samantha Pierce
- Parkland Elementary – Kim Grant
- Ranchwood Elementary – Lindsey Willetts
- Shedeck Elementary – Lauren Kellett
- Skyview Elementary – Aaron Rios
- Surrey Hills Elementary – Maddison Fletcher
- Independence Intermediate – Beth Quintana
- Lakeview Intermediate – Alexis Patric
- Redstone Intermediate – Kara Wells
- Yukon Middle School – Caitlin Gardner
- Yukon High School – Erin Lucas
The 12 honorees will compete next spring for the title of YPS District Teacher of the Year.
They will be recognized at December’s YPS Board of Education meeting.
IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY
Julie Simeroth, who works at the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, talked about the Beautiful Day Foundation as part of her husband’s Nov. 9th luncheon presentation.
This non-profit organization celebrates birthdays of all fourth graders in the Yukon school district during the school year.
Monthly birthday parties are presented at Lakeview, Independence and Redstone intermediates.
“At our first party, we had 11 children who had never had a birthday party in their life,” Simeroth shared.
Beautiful Day representatives tell the students: “The day you were born was a beautiful day.”
The birthday kids enjoy pizza, cupcakes and soft drinks as they celebrate at a special, decorated table in the lunchroom.
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful program,” Simeroth told the luncheon crowd.
Yukon’s Beautiful Day birthday parties are funded entirely through private donations and fund-raisers – and volunteers are welcome to join.
Each volunteer must pass a background check and is asked to contribute 1-1/2 to 2 hours per month helping at a party. They sit at the birthday table and interact with students.
DID YOU KNOW?
YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth shared these tidbits during his Nov. 9th State of the School address:
- Yukon’s district-wide student enrollment stands at 9,561 students after school officials had projected 9,700-9,800: “We love these kids,” Simeroth said.
- Yukon Schools now has 156 “virtual” students who receive online instruction.
- 58% of YPS students fall into the economically disadvantaged category, which has risen considerably since Simeroth came to Yukon in spring 2014.
- As the district grows, Yukon’s demographics are changing. “We’re a diverse community,” Yukon’s superintendent noted.
- “The Breakfast” is moving to a new, spacious venue. In August 2024, the YPS back-to-school appreciation event will be presented at the Canadian County Expo & Event Center. The annual school employee breakfast has outgrown the YHS Gym.