Zionsville school board talks college readiness


By Desiree Williams

The Zionsville Community Schools board of trustees heard presentations on a variety of topics at its Sept. 11 meeting, including one on the college readiness program at Zionsville Community High School.

ZCHS Assistant Principal Greg McDaniel, along with Dana Nelson, college and career transition coordinator, said the program relies heavily on Naviance Family Connection, an online system that streamlines the college and career search process by allowing students to personalize their search.

Ninth-grade students focus on exploration to discover their strengths and weaknesses. Students will use that information in 10th grade to start exploring careers that suit their characteristics. Juniors begin matching colleges with their interests. Senior year is focused on finalizing applications.

During that process, school counselors also have a heavy weight on their shoulders because of transcripts. McDaniel said counselors might be required to answer multiple questions, or even write an essay, about a specific senior when sending in transcripts. Board members expressed concern about that workload when McDaniel said the ZCHS ratio is one counselor to more than 250 students, with about 85 being seniors.

“We are at or slightly below average in terms of numbers of students, so I’m pretty comfortable with that,” McDaniel said.

The board also heard a presentation from Ann Pagano from the Musical Instrument Endowment, which provides funding for instruments for the ZCHS band. In July, the endowment purchased a set of four timpani drums for the percussion section that cost more than $12,000. They replaced a drum that was more than 40 years old.

Amy Conrad, ZCHS teacher and global engagement coordinator, introduced high school students who discussed their summer study abroad experience through Indiana University, which included 20 Zionsville participants this year.

“Obviously, these students are amazing, and they have learned so much. I’m just really happy to have them here to recognize the ways that they had that experience and the ways they are also bringing it back to the community here,” Conrad said.

The next meeting is 6 p.m. Oct. 9. It will include the annual budget hearing.