Havener Touts High School's Strengths

Principal presents school's improvement report to board of education on Monday

November 09, 2012
Kirkwood High School Principal Mike Havener highlighted several of the school's strengths and noted his goals for the future during his school improvement report before the Kirkwood School Board on Monday.

"We have 1,760 students and these kids are outstanding," Havener said. "We are so proud of them."

Likewise, the school is proud of its 122 exemplary teachers, he said, noting 115 of them hold a master's degree or higher.

Havener pointed out several programs at the high school, including the 16 Advanced Placement courses available for college credit - and that more than 1,000 students are enrolled in those classes.

"That's the highest number of students ever enrolled in AP courses," he said.

Over 1,100 students are enrolled in the school's 13 honors courses, with some students taking multiple honors classes, he said. That's also the highest number of students ever to be enrolled in honors courses.

He also mentioned the high school's music program, which includes a 217-member marching band and a 110-member orchestra that's been invited to play at the Lincoln Center in New York City next semester. The choir has also gained recognition by being voted number one in vocal jazz by Downbeat Magazine.

Havener can never talk enough about the high school's national award-winning student newspaper, The Kirkwood Call. The newspaper has garnered regional and national awards over the past several years.

He then noted the foreign language programs, which include Chinese I and II courses. The high school hopes to add a Chinese III section next semester.

Another highlight is the school's graduation rate which reached 97.4 percent in 2012.

"That's the highest graduation rate we've ever had, but our goal is to have that at 100 percent," he said. "We won't be satisfied until we get there."

ACT scores of the students are above state and national averages. The average score of Kirkwood students is 23.9, while the Missouri average is 21.6 and the national average is 21.1.

Those scores are just part of the reason Kirkwood graduates are going on to elite colleges and universities, Havener said. Although a majority of Kirkwood grads go to Mizzou, several are attending Ivy-league universities and top schools, such as MIT, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Purdue and others.

"Kirkwood has a good reputation - schools know that Kirkwood grads will be ready for college when they walk on campus," Havener said.

Havener then talked about the school's Portrait of a Pioneer, which is a vision for what the high school wants students to look like when they graduate. High school administrators are putting a lot of work into the program, which Havener began last year shortly after he took the helm as principal.

To determine what Kirkwood wants its graduates to know, high school teachers have developed what the "Portrait of a Pioneer" looks like in each department. The vision gets broken down even further by deciding what the "portrait" includes for each course at each grade level. Students then take common assessments so teachers and administrators can tell if students are reaching those standards.

"We continue to work on common assessments," Havener said.

When asked what the biggest challenges for the next year will be, Havener told the board it's raising the achievement levels of African-American students and those receiving free-and-reduced lunches.

"We need to get better and raise those achievement levels," he said.

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