by Janet Schultz
Lewiston-Porter High School has been approved for a Confucius Classroom, the only one in Niagara County. The classroom comes after five years of work through the University at Buffalo's Confucius Institute and the Chinese government agency HANBAN. It is also an extension of more than 20 years of international studies programming at Lew-Port.
There is a new emphasis on the relationship of China with the world, according to Lewiston-Porter High School Principal Paul Casseri, who also serves as the director of the program.
There have been numerous exchanges of students between Lew-Port and Tianjin High School No. 2 in China for several years. In addition teacher exchanges have been set up, providing Lew-Port students with the opportunity to study the Chinese language and culture. Two instructors from southern China are arriving in the United States this week.
At the end of 2010 there were 322 Confucius Institutes and 369 Confucius Classrooms established in 96 countries. The classrooms are funded by the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) with in-kind services from the hosts.
The goal is to advance the understanding of contemporary China through study of their culture and language. The physical classroom will be located in the high school (Room 411) and will include all the amenities of a classroom and office area that will be impressive and comfortable for students, staff and delegates.
"The comfort and look of the room is very important to the Chinese," said Casseri.
The Confucius Classroom adopts flexible teaching patterns and adapts the methods to the local conditions as they teach American students Chinese language and culture.
Lewiston-Porter is taking another step forward. The district is working with D'Youville College on bringing Chinese students to Lew-Port for their senior year and then through an agreement, those students will transfer directly to D'Youville for their college education. Niagara University and the State University College at Oswego are also looking at such a proposal.
"D'Youville is excited about this and again as our student population gets smaller it is a way to supplement it," said Lewiston-Porter Superintendent Christopher Roser.
It also benefits Lew-Port students by providing them with more exposure to their Chinese peers.
"Exposure to other cultures and languages is a strength of our school and has been for over 20 years," said Roser. "Our school is our strength."
The Confucius Classroom will be dedicated in November but the kick-off for the program will be during the school's spring festival.
Casseri also had the floor for the presentation of the Lewiston-Porter Report Card, an overview of student achievement from the Class of 2012.
Enrollment was at 752 at that time, it is 718 today.
Lewiston-Porter had a 99 percent graduation rate in 2012, with 99 percent of those students getting a Regents Diploma and 56 percent of those receiving an advanced Regents Diploma.
The Performance Index is down slightly, but that is due to New York state's passing rate for students being 65 percent, and the state dictating that schools must be accountable for passing grades of 80 percent in mathematics and 75 percent in English Language Arts. These are known as Aspirational Performance Measures, indicating how schools and districts are performing on measures closely aligned with college and career readiness, according to the state Education Department.
Compared to several other local districts of similar size, Lewiston-Porter outpaced them in the majority of the tests.
What this means for the high school is that Lew-Port will continue to look at Common Core implementation, use the results to enhance teaching and learning, and they will be using the Castle Learning/My Big Campus concept for learning and intervention. They will also be using "flipped classrooms" in mathematics and physics where students can learn at home through the use of videos and then return to the classroom for work and collaboration.
"It's not a bad report but there are concerns," said Roser. "With the cuts we've made there have been issues in maintaining upper level courses. But we need to keep kids motivated and interested. Use of technology makes courses interesting."
The next regular meeting of the Board of Education will be Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Resource Building.