Notes from the Board Table: School district and student success
Superintendent Kevin Smith’s proposed 2019-2020 operating budget includes an executive summary that highlights several impressive academic performance metrics that reflect a continuation of the proud tradition of excellence in the Wilton Public Schools. The results reported by Dr. Smith reflect an important part of district achievement, but it is not the whole story. Amazing things happen in our schools every day, most of which go unheralded.
As we prepare to engage in a community-wide discussion about next year’s school budget, I think it’s important to recognize some of those achievements and give credit to our students, teachers and staff members who give their all each day, and who are the Wilton Public Schools.
First, a plug for the district’s newly upgraded website and social media presence. The Wilton Public Schools website, wiltonps.org, is the entry point for all school-related news and venues. From the website, a user can access any of the school websites, Facebook links, and news channels, including our YouTube Wilton Education TV channel. In addition, the website also allows direct access to our #WiltonWayCT Twitter account, which offers a continual feed of school activities.
Each of these venues allows great access to news — often in real time — about the daily work that takes place in our schools. You could spend hours scrolling through the various platforms, but since that’s not realistic, following is a snapshot of some key accomplishments:
- In 2018, U.S. News and World Report ranked Wilton High School as one of the top 10 performing high schools in Connecticut, and among the top 1% of all public high schools in the country. Wilton High School was also recognized as a “top 100 public high school” for STEM education.
- Sixty-four percent of the Wilton High School graduating class of 2018 were accepted to colleges and universities ranked by Barron’s as “Most Competitive or Highly Competitive.” More than 95% of graduates attend college upon graduation, and 84% graduate from college within six years (compared to 59% nationally).
- Average English and Science ACT scores reached a five-year high and students earned a three or better on 90% of Advanced Placement exams administered in 2018.
- Student and parent survey data collected in June 2018 suggest the overwhelming majority of students feel safe at school, with a majority of students having a strong connection to at least one adult in the school.
Success occurs outside of the classroom as well, and Wilton students have distinguished themselves in a number of ways including:
- Wilton High School won the 2018 Fairfield County Interscholastic Conference (FCIAC) Cup, which recognizes our outstanding sports program. Wilton was recognized as a Banner Unified Champion School for our work in including students of all capabilities in our sports program. Our gymnastics and ski teams each won a state championship and our girls lacrosse, field hockey and basketball teams were all FCIAC runners-up.
- Thirty-seven student-athletes in last year’s graduating class committed to playing their sport at the college level. This included four students who committed to Ivy League schools, 13 who committed to other Division I schools, three who are playing at Division 2 schools, and 17 who enrolled in Division 3 schools. (Information about the Class of 2019 will be available this spring.)
- Thirty-three students received All-FCIAC honors for the Fall 2018 sports season.
- Eight members of Wilton High School’s Model Congress club earned distinctions for their outstanding participation in Yale University’s 2018 Model Congress. That prestigious event brought together more than 750 students from public and private high schools from across the Northeast.
- Our television production clubs earned 10 awards at the 2018 Area 9 Cable Council Access Awareness competition. Middlebrook School earned the coveted John M. Repicky award. Our award-winning “MDTV, The Miller-Driscoll Morning Show,” which has become an integral part of that school’s culture, will soon celebrate its 500th episode.
- Our district was honored by the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) foundation as a Best Community for Music Education. Middlebrook school performance ensembles in chorus, orchestra, jazz band and stage band took first place at the 2018 Music in the Parks festival. At the same festival, Wilton High School took top honors in six out of 10 categories.
- Wilton High School had 16 student musicians qualify for the prestigious Western Region honors ensemble, and those students have earned the right to audition for All-State level honors.
- Our WHS Madrigal Singers were selected as one of two winners of News Channel 12’s “Sounds of the Season” competition. The Madrigals were chosen out of a field of 12 selected groups, and received almost 6,000 votes.
This list could go on, but I hope my point is clear: The Wilton Public Schools continue to excel both in the classroom and in extra-curricular activities. Our students make us proud every day, and with continued support from our community, we will continue to offer them a highly rigorous, well-rounded education.
Our 2019-2020 budget season will kick off with a presentation to the community by Superintendent Smith on Thursday, Jan. 24, in the Middlebrook Auditorium at 7 p.m. I hope all members of our community will attend. Great things happen every day in the Wilton Schools, and community support is vital to our continued success.