Zionsville Community Schools to emphasize student choice, Strong in Every Way initiative in 2018


By Desiree Williams

Zionsville Community Schools will continue its Strong in Every Way campaign in 2018 and focus on encouraging student voices and choices in each school.

ZCS received a four-year Lilly Endowment grant that will go toward counseling services to advance the Strong in Every Way goal. ZCS Director of Academic Services Christine Squier said the grant will fund Preventure, a substance abuse prevention program. It also will fund more training for school staff to prevent suicide. The grant also will be used to create a K-12 social and emotional curriculum.

“What we should see in 2018 would be a seamless transition so that all students, no matter what elementary or middle school they go to, are receiving a similar background in curriculum,” she said. “Our counselors are better trained and better focused and have more time on student support services with students that need it the most.”

Squier said the other priority is to help students develop their voice while still maintaining rigorous academics.

The high school catalog will feature six new courses that provide more student choice. APEX is a project-based class that allows students to explore their passion. ZCS also will implement an internship class so students can work on-site at a company of their choice. Squier said the goal is to give students an opportunity to apply their skills to real-world situations and better retain that information.

“It’s really important to have students focus on what they’re passionate about and use the skills that we’re teaching them in an authentic way,” she said.

ISTEP will be replaced by ILEARN in 2018. Squier said the district is looking forward to that. She said it should be a one-session test given in April, which will allow more time to focus on learning.

“Just the general vibe in all the schools has been so positive,” Squier said. “It’s great to see.”