Saw a ghost

ACCHS Science Club officers Jonna McDermed, left, and Sara Johnson and Club Sponsor Mitch Oswald, ACCHS science instructor, request permission from USD 377 Board of Education members to expand the school's paranormal research during the March board meeting in Effingham. 

EFFINGHAM — Be it for those who wander through eternity, or some who like to plan ahead on paper, time was the essence of subjects USD 377 Board of Education members addressed when they recently convened.

Board members gathered for their regular monthly meeting Wednesday, March 13, at the board office and all present unanimously approved as presented the calendar for the 2019-2020 schoolyear.

By consensus, board members agreed to allow the Atchison County Community High School Science Club members to expand the club’s paranormal investigation project to research to include the Atchison County Community Elementary School. Board members did so after they heard a request from Science Club Officers Jonna McDermed and Sara Johnson and Sponsor Mitch Oswald.

The trio emphasized to board members the research is science-based, and a continuation from investigations conducted in the past years at the high school in conjunction with the Kansas Paranormal Research Society. They agreed the purpose of the investigations offer insight into some origins of the unexplained noises, sightings and movements.

Oswald said the research group members offer opportunities to the science club members a hands-on experience to work with delicate, technically advanced audio recording, thermal and camera equipment. The research and information collected is not open to the general public, but teachers, staff and school board members are welcome to attend the upcoming research schedule. The particular research society is of a more science-based nature rather than public exploitation, Oswald assured.

They are more of what’s real and not real without jumping to any conclusions like what you mostly see on TV, Oswald explained.

Oswald and the student scientists also shared some findings gathered from the previous research sessions at the high school. They agreed they’ve been encouraged by district staffers and patrons to expand their research to include the elementary school.

Board member Corey Neill said he consents. “Just keep it science-based,” he added.

The forthcoming school year calendar shows that new staff orientation is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 6, which falls during Atchison County Fair Week, as well one of the teacher workdays, set for Friday, Aug. 9. The first day of school is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 15.

Superintendent Andrew Gaddis told board members, spring break is traditionally scheduled to coincide with the break at Highland Community College to accommodate the high schoolers attending HCC Technical Center. The timing also allows for student field trips like the Sound Masters current trip to Memphis, Tennessee, and another group of students’ visit to the salt mines.

Neill recalled that when he was in school there wasn’t a week off for spring break, instead there were a few extra days off from school around Easter time, other board members agreed.

The presented calendar has five days allotted for snow days, Gaddis said that is typically enough.

In other matters, board members recognized the following students in state wrestling:

* Among girls, first place winner Makea Forbes and Tannah Forbes for her second place finish

* Among boys, Mason Scholz, fifth-place, Brodie Page, sixth place and Tiler Hewitt, qualifier.

Board members also recognized basketball achievements in the form of the ACCJHS boys’ team, who finished third at the North East Kansas League Tournament; kudos for the ACCHS basketball teams’ players went to varsity girls’ team for sub-state runner-up distinction.

Girls basketball player Jaycee Ernzen was recognized for being named to the NEKL second team; her teammate, Georgia Appel, received an honorable mention. Boys basketball player Tucker Smith received an NELK honorable mention.

Board members also recognized:

* Ryleigh Anderson, Nathan Palmer, Brylyn Jolly, Easton Schletzbaum, Malorie Bosch, Jenna Pitts, Addison Schletzbaum, Conner Simmers and Hannah Simmers, Regional Science Fair medal winners, who all qualified for state competition.

* FFA winners, the agriculture mechanics team, third place overall; team member, Logan Kramer, third place, Cale Swendson, seventh place, Marcus Hetherington, Ryan Dunn and James McDermed rounded out the team; Ashtyn Jolly brought home second place honors for poultry.

Gaddis offered a superintendent’s report. He informed board members about Kansas H.B. 2395, a school finance bill that was introduced earlier in the day. Gaddis conveyed his belief to board members that if the bill passes as presented it wouldn't be beneficial to the district.

He also made suggestions for a facility master plan. Gaddis suggested the possible demolition of the former bus barn, a small garage/shop building, adjacent to the football field and then to construct bleachers on the site. He also told board members he has been researching some of the histories related to the recent bond issues and how they relate to the current school facilities.

Gaddis also discussed the board’s request for authority to raise the capital mill levy an additional mill to fund unexpected, but necessary repairs and maintenance. Gaddis said it is important patrons be informed about the matter. He also encouraged board members to participate at the district’s booth and the one showcasing FFA at the Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce Farm City banquet in Atchison.

Board members also:

* Approved by a 5-0 votes to accept a $7,703 bid from Michael Hundley Construction to replace sheetrock and carpet in the ACCJSHS auditorium, and to accept proposal from Sumner One for Konica-Minolta copiers. Board members also unanimously accepted a contract with Keystone for two educational units for Parents As Teachers program.

* Recessed from regular session to go behind closed doors in four different executive sessions to discuss the following matters: Non-elected personnel for 10 minutes with Gaddis, ACCJSHS Principal Deanna Scherer and Cy Wallisch, ACCJHS principal and athletic director; five minutes to discuss a student matter with Scherer and Gaddis present; board members discussed employer-employee negotiations with Gaddis present for 15 minutes; and to preliminarily discuss the acquisition of real estate with Gaddis for 20 minutes.

No action was taken as the result of any of the sessions, other than adjournment. Board President Nancy Keith and Board Members Lori Lanter were both absent from the meeting.

Mary Meyers can be reached at

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