District Officials Bring Updates From Around Wellington Schools

Wellington’s Education Committee met Tuesday, Feb. 7 for a presentation on village schools by representatives of the Palm Beach County School District.

Regional Superintendent Valerie Zuloaga-Haines brought regards from Superintendent Michael Burke, as well as Deputy Superintendent and Chief of Schools Edward Tierney.

“Our priority outcomes are always to educate, affirm and inspire,” she said.

Zuloaga-Haines shared highlights from across Wellington’s 11 public schools, including an update on Principal Dr. Maria Vaughan at Wellington Elementary School, who has been ill.

“As you know, Dr. Vaughan has been on extended leave, and we really ask for your prayers and thoughts so that she can get healthy quickly and be able to return to us here at Wellington Elementary,” Zuloaga-Haines said. “But in the meantime, we felt that we needed to have an interim principal assigned to the school so we can continue moving the school forward. And so, I would like to be able to introduce to you Mrs. Diana Fernandez.”

Fernandez is from the Central Region office. She has experience at the elementary, middle and high school level as an assistant principal.

“I feel blessed and honored to really continue the great work that Dr. Vaughn started. There are a lot of great things happening at Wellington, and I hope to continue that until the time comes, and Dr. Vaughn returns,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez thanked the Village of Wellington for its support, and Zuloaga-Haines thanked Wellington Elementary’s Assistant Principal Donna Dekersky for her hard work as well.

Many of the local elementary schools recently celebrated Literacy Week, as well as the 100th day of school. Many area schools also have special events taking place between now and the end of February.

Whether it’s celebrating soccer teams, volleyball teams, Red Cross donations, safety patrol students, Junior Achievement students, robotics students and other student groups, there has been plenty to celebrate within Wellington schools.

In addition to sharing an update on the schools, Zuloaga-Haines shared information about how students are doing academically.

The mid-year performance data is in for the MP1 performance monitoring assessment in Wellington-area schools. This marks from the beginning of the year to the midterm, so the assessment doesn’t change from beginning to end, but the students learn throughout the year, giving a bump to their scores.

For Wellington’s elementary schools, Zuloaga-Haines said, the students have advanced in English language arts for grades 3 to 5 at a faster rate than the rest of the district. Similar gains were also found in math and science testing. Students in grades 6 to 10 are also performing at a higher level than students in the rest of the district.

“It’s exactly what we want to see,” she said. “And then we always compare with, ‘How is the district doing overall?’ And we’re doing better.”

Some challenges students face can include attendance, needing additional support, social/emotional learning, and working on mental health with students and adults.

“It takes a village to be able to provide all of those resources and support to our students,” Zuloaga-Haines said.

Her presentation included short reports on activities at all of Wellington’s district-run schools, making sure to call out good things that are happening across the community.

Binks Forest Elementary School won first place at the Honda Classic art contest, held a family STEAM night in January, the safety patrol went on is annual trip in January, the school celebrated Literacy Week in January and the 100th day of school. Additionally, the school is working on its SAC initiative of collecting items for homeless veterans and a kindness initiative of collecting items for foster children in Palm Beach County.

Elbridge Gale Elementary School’s robotics team took second place in Robot Run and is moving on to regionals. Principal Gail Pasterczyk has been named the Central Region Principal of the Year and is a finalist for the School District of Palm Beach County award. More than 30 vehicles were at the school for Vehicle Day, they celebrated the 100th day of school with STEM activities, students celebrated Literacy Week dress up days with author visits, all staff was trained in youth mental health, the PTO Candyland Dance is scheduled for Feb. 10, the school is a Green School of Excellence and the PTO is supporting the school and local businesses with school spirit nights.

Equestrian Trails Elementary School recently held a winter performance for families, students learned about body systems during field days, the Watch DOGS program is running with dads on campus volunteering daily, veterans visited and presented to the students, and students completed the South Florida Fair Mile in the cold weather.

New Horizons Elementary School celebrated Literacy Week with Diving into Books, BLAST from Wellington High School will be collaborating with the school to celebrate Black History Month, students ran the mile at the South Florida Fairgrounds with training from teacher Katelyn Ott, the Watch DOGS program is in full swing with 5 to 10 dads volunteering monthly, the PTA Glow Party fundraiser was a success, there are academic tutors supporting literacy and math, Parent University will take place on Feb. 13 at 8:15 a.m., and Flamenco dancers will perform on Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. at the Winter Equestrian Festival.

Panther Run Elementary School has been an overall winner for four years, and this year they also won the elementary division of Heroes for Education, the fifth graders had a successful Veterans Day event, they are a Welcoming Inclusive Level 4 School, they are a Positive Behavior Support Platinum Level School and a Green School of Excellence. The school held its Panther Run Beach Clean in January, celebrated Literacy Week in January, held a spelling bee, celebrated the 100th day of school and the fifth-grade safety patrols went to Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

Wellington Elementary School’s PTO held a Mystery Dinner Theater production, the school celebrated Literacy Week, they celebrated the 100th day of school, took part in the Great Charity Challenge, on Feb. 10 there will be a Mother/Son Glow Party, on Feb. 17 there will be a Father/Daughter Dance and on March 11 students will perform at the Winter Equestrian Festival.

Emerald Cove Middle School students advanced to the Palm Beach Regional Science and Engineering Fair, PreIT students have had entrepreneurs visit campus, AVID and PreIT are getting ready to visit the University of Miami and Lynn University, the Future Business Leaders of America participated in a local-level performance event, culinary students participated in the South Florida Fair bake off, choral students participated at All State, there were successful band and chorus concerts in December, the girls volleyball team had a 9-1 season and advanced to the second round of playoffs, the boys soccer team were division champions, the school celebrated Literacy Week and there is a career fair with Junior Achievement set for Feb. 10.

Polo Park Middle School’s girls volleyball team won the division championships, the Cyber Knights Robotics Team won Robot Performance and Overall Champions at the regional qualifier, the other two robotics teams have their qualifiers later in February, the school launched its Black History Month celebration and Literacy Week celebration, the PTSA walk-a-thon was a success, and the student government and NJHS held a Mini Dance Marathon, raising $5,811.73 for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Wellington Landings Middle School’s boys soccer team made it to the second round of the playoffs, the speech and debate team had three students place at the FAU High Tournament, the Kindness Ambassadors collected blankets for Bryan’s Blankets in December and donated peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to feed the homeless, the school celebrated Literacy Week, and the Lunch Lady Squad was honored by the Florida Dairy Council and Fuel Up to Play 60 at the Jan. 9 Dolphins game.

Palm Beach Central High School is holding First Friday Coffee Talk with Principal Darren Edgecomb focusing on course selections, the Red Cross club made a donation in January, there was the honor roll ice cream social, Black History Month celebrations are from Feb. 6 to 10, Spirit Week Feb. 21 to 24 and graduation will be on May 17.

Finally, Wellington High School’s student government held a toy and bike drive for students at Rosenwald Elementary School, the school held a blood drive, the graduation rate of 97.8 percent has been maintained and celebrated, BLAST put together care packages for homeless students in Wellington, the Mighty Wolverine Sound traveled to London to perform in the New Year’s Day Parade, Paulina Velasquez is the 2022 school support staff employee of the year for adult and community education, and December and January brought awareness to Read a New Book Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month, National Mentoring Month, Adults and Community Education Month, Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month, and National School Board Appreciation Month.