Ben Hegedish, superintendent of Independence Local Schools was one of the panelists at the Cuyahoga Valley Chamber of Commerce’s State of the Schools Luncheon on Wednesday, May 4. The luncheon was held at the Holiday Inn and attended by chamber members as well as city and school officials from Independence and Cuyahoga Heights Local Schools. Superintendent from the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio and the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center also participated in the panel discussion.
Hegedish focused on four key areas: student wellness, preparing students to be future ready, student success and enjoyment, and all the ways the city and schools collaborate.
Hegedish stressed that it is very important that each of our students are loved and cared for. “This was true before the pandemic - and even more important during and now that we're on what seems to be the other side,” said Hegedish. “We've significantly increased our student behavioral supports, academic supports, and programming emphasizing student wellness and health. We have created safe places for students with anxiety or in need of breaks, introduced intentional mindfulness practices and times, programing like ROX (Ruling our Experiences), M3 (Manners Maketh the Man), Hope Squad (peer to peer suicide prevention programming) and dedicated advisory times for social emotional connections and lessons.”
“We should strive to prepare our kids for their futures,” said Hegedish. “The jobs of today and tomorrow are very different from how most of us in this room were prepared to be a contributing member of society. We've introduced a technology-heavy, collaborative, and innovative project-based emphasis to our programming and want to continue to focus on future-readiness. We've introduced genius hour, robots courses, coding, video game creation, e-sports, and have plenty of maker space and technology integration. Our increased emphasis on career connections and exposure for our students is very important and we're working to continue this growth.”
Student Success and Enjoyment
The past two years have been filled with great opportunities for students in Independence to have fun, enjoy school and participate in extracurricular opportunities. The district’s theater programs continue to be outstanding. Independence Primary School had more than 60 students involved in The Jungle Book performance. Independence Middle School’s production of All Together Now and Independence High School’s show, The Addams Family, were outstanding.
Over the past year, Independence Local Schools’ student-athletes been conference champs in:
Spring 2021: baseball, softball, girls track and boys track
Fall 2021: girls golf, boys golf, volleyball
Both golf teams qualified for the state meet.
Our volleyball team qualified for a 5th consecutive state tournament, 4th consecutive trip to the state finals.
“We truly take a community approach with our city-schools collaborative efforts,” said Hegedish. :Our city supports our youngest of residents in real and tangible ways. Our school leaders and city leaders are true community partners. We're very excited about current planning for school facilities, including shared use components that add value to all residents and continue to make Independence a premier place to live and raise a family.”