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LASD moves forward on school construction, shares “Thunderbolts Thrive in the World” program

At the Littlestown Area School District’s (LASD) school board’s work session on Monday, members were given a presentation on the progress of the capital project that would merge the Maple Avenue Middle School and the Littlestown High School.

Christopher Linkey and Andrew Blayton, representatives from RLPS Architects who are drawing plans, presented a timeline of the project’s next steps. At the end of April 2022, RLPS will deliver a schematic design presentation to the board for review and approval. After decisions are made, the timeline moves into an Act 32 Hearing in August 2022. This public hearing is necessary as a part of the requirements of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Upon completion of the Act 34 hearing, with all comments and discussions taken into consideration, RLPS will present the design development plan for review and approval of the board. This will be followed by construction document review and an authorization to begin accepting bids. The review and awarding of bids for the project would be finished around May 2023.

Board member Nikki Kenny asked whether costs would be locked in for the project in relation to possible continued inflation. “When you receive bids,” said Linkey, “the contractors give you a price and then they have locked in that price.”

There has been an abundance of feedback on the capital project. “We could design a building a vacuum,” said Blayton, “but it wouldn’t be a building that meets your needs.”

During the capital project process, a guiding coalition made up of 34 members including teachers, administrators, and staff has been meeting monthly to iron out details and address goals for the capital project. The coalition has had break-out groups, fishbowl discussions, and decision grids regarding concepts, grade alignment, and how the building would be organized for usable space.

A history of the project to date, schematics, the feasibility study, and other information on the capital project is available on the district’s website at www.lasd.k12.pa.us. See the blue block link titled “Consolidation of MS/HS Project.”

“Thunderbolts Thrive in the World”

Superintendent Chris Bigger introduced the board to the new learning concept for the district, “Thunderbolts Thrive in the World”. This new strategy comes with curriculum and programs to help students be prepared to go into their post-secondary lives with a meaningful diploma.

“’Thunderbolts Thrive in the World’ revolves around the idea that a diploma means more than ‘I sat in a classroom for seat time and got 23½ credits that may or may not do anything for me.’” said Bigger.

The goal is that all students will be able to graduate with more than just a high school diploma. Every student will have a nationally recognized certificate in a career field, 9 post-secondary credits, and/or an apprenticeship program that ends with a job. A student could earn one or more of these upon graduation. “These are stackable ideas,” said Bigger, asking “how many can we get to them before they walk across the stage?”

LASD provides options for students through partnership programs with Adams County Technical Institute, Carroll County Technical, and Harrisburg Area Community College.

Dr. Timothy Mitzel, Assistant to the Superintendent, brought exciting news about a program that will help Thunderbolts Thrive in the World. “What I am very excited to share is that we have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) from Delaware Valley University,” said Mitzel.

The MOU enables high school teachers to instruct students as adjunct faculty at Delaware Valley University (DVU) in Doylestown. The curriculum and teachers’ credentials will be reviewed by DVU departments to make sure they are aligned with their requirements. Under state regulations, the MOU is what makes it possible for concurrent coursework that will earn them high school and college credits at the same time.

Mitzel announced that Bigger has signed the MOU and it will be presented at the Board’s regular meeting on Monday, March 21, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. for approval. The program would be provided beginning in Fall 2023.

The next work session meeting of the LASD Board will be Monday, April 11, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. in the LASD Board Room. The public is encouraged to attend.

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Christina Grim grew up in Shippensburg, PA, Franklin County, and graduated from Shippensburg Area High School. She is an experienced interviewer, researcher, and news reporter, having worked for the Shippensburg News-Chronicle as a staff reporter during college. Driven by the desire to know the facts and answers to today’s issues, she takes seriously the importance of providing the best reporting possible. Ms. Grim earned her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Messiah College and has worked in her field, either in print or radio/streamed media for the last 25 years. As a single mother, she has learned that the best things in life come from hard work and multi-tasking. She is the mother of two adult children and two cats

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