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Articles written by Kirk Boxleitner


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  • How HSC High School tracks and improves student achievement

    Kirk Boxleitner|Aug 24, 2023

    Hot Springs County High School Principal Catelyn Deromedi devoted her district share presentation, during the Hot Springs County School Board meeting on Aug. 17, to how the high school has acted to bolster student achievement by more rigorously tracking students’ progress. Deromedi explained that, in every academic year, school districts throughout the state receive accountability ratings from the Wyoming Department of Education. According to Deromedi, those ratings encompass achievement growth, equity, extended graduation, on-time graduation,...

  • School district admin building named after custodian Joe Arnold

    Kirk Boxleitner|Aug 3, 2023

    During their July meeting, the Hot Springs County School Board named the district’s central administration building after Joe Arnold, and made an auditorium sign for William H. Malloy, following Superintendent Dustin Hunt’s request to make an exception to their facility naming policy. “One of the best parts of my job is recognizing people for outstanding achievements,” Hunt said. “Arnold has demonstrated so many of the qualities that we hope to see in our young people, such as dedication, work ethic, consistency, compassion, pride and a job...

  • Student bookmark designer, special education teacher celebrated

    Kirk Boxleitner|Jun 29, 2023

    Ralph Witters Elementary Principal Nichole Ciz presented both of the evening’s celebrations for the Hot Springs County School District Board of Trustees’ June 15 meeting. Amelia Johnson, who completed fourth-grade teacher Toby Emery’s class this year at Ralph Witters Elementary, also participated in the “Bookmark and Beyond” program, as part of “Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom.” Ciz explained that Johnson was one of 13 students, across the entire state of Wyoming, who made it into the ranks of this year’s finalists, out of more than 1,600...

  • CWC BOCHES budget approved by school board

    Kirk Boxleitner|Jun 1, 2023

    The Hot Springs County School District Board of Trustees voted May 18 to approve the proposed budget for the Central Wyoming College Board of Cooperative Higher Educational Services (CWC BOCHES), that enables prepared high school students to earn college credits through dual and concurrent enrollment programs. Mathew Johnson, the concurrent and dual enrollment program director for CWC BOCHES, explained that Hot Springs County Assessor Daniel Webber had estimated an increase in county valuation of approximately 28%, which led in turn to a...

  • NW BOCES offers update on status of program to school board

    Kirk Boxleitner|May 25, 2023

    Carolyn Conner, administrative director of the Northeast Wyoming Board of Cooperative Educational Services based in Thermopolis, addressed the Hot Springs County School District Board of Directors on May 18 to provide an update on NW BOCES, which marks 53 years this year. “We provide a safe and trusting environment for our children,” Conner said, adding that NW BOCES serves kindergarten through eighth-grade students. “When the youth come to us, they’re usually angry, impulsive and reactionary. They have more issues than can be taken care of...

  • Strenger voices support for school district

    Kirk Boxleitner|May 18, 2023

    Jacob Strenger identified himself as not just a sixth-grade teacher, but also as one of many parents in the Hot Springs County School District who “wouldn’t send my kids to any other school district in this nation,” as he was accompanied by a number of such parents, and their children, in addressing the Hot Springs County School District on April 18. Strenger said of his kids, “I know they’re getting a good education,” and cited not only the vocabulary exercises his daughter dutifully leads him through as part of her own homework, but also hi...

  • Jean Skelton, school board discussions reach an impasse

    Kirk Boxleitner|May 11, 2023

    April 18 saw another dispute between Jean Skelton and the Hot Springs County School Board. “I know you guys are dealing with hard stuff every day,” Skelton said. “I honestly, truly believe your hearts are in the right place.” To that end, while Skelton acknowledged her differences of opinion with the board, she asserted, “It doesn’t mean my heart’s not in the right place.” Skelton reiterated that $672,000 of expenditures had been incorrectly placed by the auditor, who was paid $34,000, and while he corrected and re-issued the audit, Skelton...

  • Jordan Christian remembered in student plea for respect towards others

    Kirk Boxleitner|Apr 27, 2023

    by Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@masoncounty.com Karina Lea, the student trustee on the Hot Springs County School Board, devoted her remarks during the board’s April 18 meeting to observe the passing of her 16-year-old classmate, cheerleader squad member Jordan Joseph Christian, on April 4. “Cheer is fundraising to pay for a funeral,” Lea said. “I knew Jordan since my junior year. We were in yearbook together. He actually suggested the theme for last year’s yearbook: ‘Caution: Organized chaos.’” Lea noted that Christian knew “everyone” by n...

  • School auditor admits controversial financial discrepancy was error on his part

    Kirk Boxleitner|Apr 6, 2023

    by Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@masoncounty.com A special meeting of the Hot Springs County School Board on March 28 that saw Jean Skelton persist in calling for specifics on the incorrect mapping of funds ended with auditor Jason Lund realizing that the error was his own, and not that of former school district business manager Chauncy Johnson. Lund had opened by clarifying there was no “moving of expenditures between classifications,” even as he admitted from the start that the number of audits conducted had precluded him determining the specif...

  • Local educators credit Level Up with empowering, providing them with connections

    Kirk Boxleitner|Mar 30, 2023

    The Hot Springs County School Board of Trustees heard from four presenters on Feb. 16 about the positive impacts of the “Level Up” program, starting with Lyle Wiley, Language Arts teacher for Hot Springs County High School. According to Wiley, the Level Up program seeks to elevate Wyoming’s education professionals by providing leadership development to an annual cohort of Wyoming’s leading educators. “We definitely have more folks at Hot Springs involved in the Level Up community than any other district in the state,” said Wiley, who noted t...

  • School board accused of systemic non-responsiveness to parents' concerns

    Kirk Boxleitner|Mar 23, 2023

    Jean Skelton’s third monthly address in a row to the Hot Springs County School Board on March 16 saw their differences of opinion devolve into angry outbursts on both sides, after she’d asserted the board had failed to live up to its stated collective commitments to maintain respect, transparency and honest communication. “What I witnessed at the last school board meeting was one board member attacking another board member because of a differing opinion,” Jean Skelton said. “There was no respect or dialogue in that exchange, no striving...

  • Emergency management coordinator adds clarity to school board report

    Kirk Boxleitner|Mar 2, 2023

    Bill Gordon, the Hot Springs County Emergency Management coordinator, contacted the Thermopolis Independent Record to add clarity about his Feb. 16 testimony to the Hot Springs County School District Board of Trustees. Gordon clarified that, rather than independently contacting “a firm in Chicago,” he was one of several people invited to take part in a Dec. 7 Zoom call, regarding local school emergency management plans. This call was between Hot Springs County School District Superintendent Dustin Hunt, Hunt’s Administrative Assistant Kathy...

  • Evacuation, reunification strategies suggested for school emergency plans

    Kirk Boxleitner|Feb 23, 2023

    Bill Gordon, the Hot Springs County Emergency Management coordinator, addressed the Hot Springs County School District Board of Trustees on Feb. 16, to suggest two items for inclusion in the school district’s upcoming emergency plan that’s currently under development. “Those items are off-site evacuation and reunification,” Gordon said. “Often, shelter-in-place is the proper action to take, as a safe and appropriate response to certain emergencies. Occasionally, however, off-site evacuation is necessary, (and) this would be evacuatio...

  • School board honors coach, teachers

    Kirk Boxleitner|Feb 16, 2023

    Hot Springs County High School Principal Catelyn Deromedi helped honor her husband, High School and Middle School Physical Education, Health and Activities Director Brandon Deromedi, during the Hot Springs County School District Board of Trustees’ Jan. 19 meeting, for his success in yet another one of his titles, that of head golf coach, not only for the golf team winning its fifth state championship in a row earlier this school year, but also for Deromedi himself winning the title of the 2022 golf coach of the year. “Yeah, that’s defin...

  • Thermopolis Middle School wrestlers recognized

    Kirk Boxleitner|Feb 16, 2023

    Thermopolis Middle School Head Wrestling Coach Toby Emery congratulated his student wrestlers during the Hot Springs County School District Board of Trustees’ Jan. 19 meeting, reporting that Thermopolis finished third out of 10 teams in the 2022 Big Horn Basin Middle School Conference Boys A Division, scoring the same ranking they’d earned the previous year. “That’s an amazing feat, especially with the number of kids we have,” Emery said. “There’s 18 slots in wrestling. We filled seven slots this year,” which he deemed as evidence that ...

  • School board receives feed back on high risk audit

    Kirk Boxleitner|Feb 2, 2023

    The Hot Springs County School District’s audit report, which was reviewed at its board of trustees’ Dec. 15 meeting, drew a reaction from the community during the board’s Jan. 19 meeting. Jean Skelton, speaking during the Jan. 19 public comment period “as a taxpayer and accountant,” said, “It was a concern to me that you were considered a high risk auditee,” before she reviewed the four points of specific concern to her, which included both “significant” and “material weaknesses,” as well as “significant deficiencies,” which sh...

  • School weight training program gains strength

    Kirk Boxleitner|Jan 19, 2023

    Boone Bowker, who’s in charge of strength and weight training at Hot Springs County High School, provided the Hot Springs County School Board with a Dec. 15 update from the weight room on the Bobcats’ strength as of the fall of 2022. Superintendent Dustin Hunt said the Hot Springs County School District has made “a pretty good investment in equipment with our strength program, and we have a lot of desire to continue to grow that.” Bowker deemed the 2022-23 school year “an incredible year so far,” as he elaborated that “the kids have been ama...

  • School district website app available

    Kirk Boxleitner|Jan 5, 2023

    The Hot Springs County School District’s Tech Specialist Rick Groh provided a primer to the school board on the district’s new website app on Dec. 15 Groh reported the app had been under development since the start of the school year, and explained how it ties directly into the school district’s website, which is about two years old. According to Groh, the calendars and announcements for the district and each of its schools, that already appear online, are also available via the smartphone app. “Any time we send an all-call, or a push notific...

  • Daycare director updates school board

    Kirk Boxleitner|Dec 29, 2022

    Ciciley Basse, director of daycare for the Hot Springs County School District, addressed the school board Dec. 15 to deliver her supervisor’s report. Basse reported the daycare celebrated with “community helpers” in October, as members of the highway patrol and the local police, sheriff’s and volunteer fire departments visited the daycare, so the kids could explore their vehicles, “push all the buttons and make all the sirens” go off. Moving to November, Basse recounted how the daycare hosted “a tool for observing young children” thr...

  • Skelton commences second year as school board chair

    Kirk Boxleitner|Dec 22, 2022

    Sherman Skelton entered his second year as chair of the Hot Springs County School District Board of Trustees on Dec. 15, after Joe Martinez nominated Skelton to retain his board chairmanship, which Nichole Weyer seconded, and the rest of the board of trustees voted unanimously to close the floor to any other nominees. “There was a lot to learn from the first year,” Skelton said. “It’s a growth piece for me, so hold me accountable. I always appreciate feedback, so I look forward to that.” Weyer, in turn, was nominated as vice-chair by Jennifer...

  • School board receives update on district's technology

    Kirk Boxleitner|Dec 15, 2022

    Hot Springs County School District Technology Director Josh Taylor provided an update to the school board Nov. 15, starting with a review of his department’s yearly maintenance cycles, on everything from staff computers and all the printers to the student information system and Chromebooks. Taylor explained that the goal with the Chromebooks is to ensure students have “fresh devices,” so they’re reliable to use and not breaking down, before he thanked middle school Principal Breez Daniels for bringing him into the district’s guidance coalition...

  • Hill reports to school board on health, PE

    Kirk Boxleitner|Dec 8, 2022

    Shannon Hill serves as the physical education, health and wellness teacher for Hot Springs County High School, and Nov. 15 saw her address the Hot Springs County School Board about the Wyoming Association for ​Health, Physical Education, Recreation ​and Dance, of which she’s been a member for three years, having presented at its conferences and taken on a leadership role within the organization. Hill also spoke about her role in the Wyoming Department of Education’s Level Up Leadership Program, to which she was invited after winning a Milken...

  • Students recognized for outstanding achievements

    Kirk Boxleitner|Dec 1, 2022

    At their November meeting, the Hot Springs County School Board brought the livestock judging team of the Thermopolis FFA Chapter in for a round of recognition, after their outstanding performance at the American Royal in Kansas City, Missouri, this fall. On Oct. 16, the Thermopolis FFA members found themselves representing the entire state of Wyoming across the nation, as the livestock judging team placed fourth in the country, then came in second in the “reasons” class — for the oral reasons they were able to supply for judging various class...

  • Student trustee reports to school board

    Kirk Boxleitner|Nov 24, 2022

    Hot Spring County School Board Student Trustee Karina Lea’s report was delayed on Oct. 20, ironically enough, by one of the items on that report. “The reason I was gone (is that) fall drama has officially started,” Lea said. “Our one-act is going to be 14 lines. We’re changing it up this year. Instead of a proscenium, we’re doing it in the round, which means audience members will come on stage, and sit in a box around the presentation. It’ll be something different.” Lea noted the speech and debate team has sent out its first round of recrui...

  • Schools' maintenance director reports on state of facilities

    Kirk Boxleitner|Nov 3, 2022

    The Hot Springs County School Board received a department update from Maintenance Director Jere Apland on Oct. 20, starting with the new bus pickup and dropoff zone project that began at the end of May, and managed to stay on time and on budget. “The contractor and engineer did a great job,” said Apland, who added that the middle school’s lockers have also been remodeled. “We tore them out to nothing. We replaced all the fixtures and piping, and added new, taller partitions. They went closer to the floor, so they’re way more private. Next year...

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