Monday, December 7, 2015

Derby Students Rewarded for Excellent Attendance

DERBY-  On December 3, students and families from Irving School were treated to a special performance by Danz Magic to promote school attendance, goal-setting, and perseverance. The show was held to support Irving’s plan to reduce chronic absenteeism and build a school culture that values and recognizes regular school attendance. 

Danz Magic’s owner, Debbie Parlow, collaborated with Irving School’s Attendance Coordinator, Maria Bowers to plan this event for students.  The Danz Magic Dance Team includes approximately 50 dancers from around the Greater Valley area ranging in ages from nine -23 years. The dancers perform routines with tap, ballet, lyrical, jazz, pointe, and tumbling.  
Parlow said, “Danz Magic wanted to spread a little magic throughout our community, and help Irving School teach the importance of commitment and dedication.  We know it will help these kids become responsible people, who go far in the future.” 
Irving School is in its fourth year of a comprehensive turnaround, and designated as a Review School in the Department of Education’s Alliance Grant, an improvement from a Focus School status in 2012.  Alliance Districts are required to address chronic absenteeism, which includes students missing 10% or more of school. 
“We made it a priority this year to improve student attendance,” said Principal Jennifer Olson. “Historically, our school struggled with inconsistent student attendance including absences, tardies, and early dismissals.  We are intentionally working to help families to identify and resolve any obstacles that interfere with children coming to school every day.”  
In the first marking period, daily attendance at Irving School improved from 95% in 2014-2015 to 98% in 2015-2016. Chronic absenteeism also dropped from 17% to 11.9%.  The state’s target is 10%. 
“Making attendance a priority in your home as early as preschool will create a habit that follows students through life.  When children miss school, whether it is an excused or an unexcused absence, they miss out on important learning,” said Bowers.  “We want our students to be ‘On Time and Ready to Shine’ because it is a great start to being the best you can be, and I am here to help.” 
Fifth grade teacher, Jori Pirritino said, “The school’s focus on attendance helps me as a teacher because we can build a more cohesive classroom community because everyone is there for the same experiences and learning.” 
The Danz Magic performance is one of many ways Irving School is helping bring attention to the importance of school attendance. The school celebrates classes with perfect attendance daily, and recognizes students with perfect attendance quarterly.  At the first marking period Honors Reception in November, 89 students, or 27% of students in Grades K-5, were awarded certificates for perfect attendance. According to Olson, 14 students who had perfect attendance in the first marking period were chronically absent last year. 
Parlow and Danz Magic’s Assistant Director, Stephanie Waldron, offered Irving students who attended the performance a free dance lesson, and Danz Magic pencils that read, “On Time and Ready to Shine!”  Danz Magic has studios in Derby and Milford and is celebrating 29 years in business. “At Danz Magic, we are not just another dance studio, we are a family. Kids form friendships that last a lifetime,” said Parlow. 

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