Column: Welcome back

Kevin Borg Guest Columnist
Kevin Borg
Guest Columnist

On behalf of Westonka Public Schools, I want to welcome you back to the 2015-2016 school year!

I can think of no better example of the momentum we have going into the new school year in Westonka than the atmosphere of our first home football game last Friday night. It was truly a community celebration, with students, staff and neighbors out in full force to cheer the White Hawks on to their first 3-0 start in recent memory. Our positive momentum is palpable, and the excitement is contagious. I can’t wait to see what this new year brings.

This school year marks many new beginnings for Westonka. We are pleased to welcome several new teachers and staff to the district this year. New Mound Westonka High School principal Mark McIlmoyle was in the stands Friday night with his wife and two sons, wearing red and white and making introductions. Mr. McIlmoyle brings innovative ideas and a collaborative spirit to the high school, and we are lucky to have him on our leadership team.

Before the big game, the White Hawks recognized the generosity of long-time Westonka resident Bill Gillespie, who was an avid supporter of Westonka Schools and White Hawks activities.

Following his death in 2013, Westonka Schools received a special bequest from the Gillespie estate, which provided the majority of funds for the installation of a digital scoreboard at Haddorff Field. Through scoreboard advertising, Bill’s donation will more than double over time and will provide future funding for White Hawks activities.

This year, we will be making a point to honor those in the community who are generous supporters of Westonka Schools. Our students and staff greatly appreciate our community’s displays of Westonka pride—from local businesses proudly displaying “Go White Hawks!” signs in their windows to community members donating time and energy in our classrooms to realtors highlighting our best-in-state achievement results.

The new scoreboard that lit up the field on Friday night also serves as a symbol of the exciting and innovating ways we are using technology to enhance learning this school year. Students in grades 2-12 are now 1:1 with mobile devices through our Edge21 Technology Plan.

Much of our focus this year will be on personalizing learning to meet the needs of each and every student and on using technology to teach 21st century skills, such as problem-solving, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

At halftime on Friday, fans enjoyed a terrific performance from our award-winning Hawkettes dance team, which placed in the Top 10 at the state tournament last year. Our athletic and academic co-curricular teams make us very proud. It’s important that all Westonka students are able to participate in a variety of activities and that they have appropriate spaces to train and compete. This fall, the Westonka School Board will be reaching out to the general public, as well as the school administration, for comment and input about district facilities, including activities space. Watch for more information about community engagement opportunities in The Laker and on the district website, www.westonka.k12.mn.us.

I am excited to welcome the Westonka community back to a new school year. As always, I invite you to contact me directly with any comments, questions or concerns about the district throughout the year.

Kevin Borg is the Superintendent of the Westonka School District