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Earning an Indiana high school diploma just became a lot more complicated
INDIANAPOLIS — The State Board of Education approved a major overhaul of Indiana's high school graduation requirements Wednesday, despite significant concerns from Hoosier educators about how the changes will be implemented.
The new graduation pathways mandates all Indiana high school students, beginning with the 2023 graduating class, explicitly demonstrate both work-ready skills and post-secondary education preparedness — in addition to completing a traditional academic program — to earn their diplomas.
The added graduation requirements were ordered in April by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, and follow Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb's announced intention to convert Indiana's education system into an employment skills training pipeline for Hoosier businesses.
According to the implementation plan, approved 7-4 by the mostly governor-appointed state school board, students will have numerous options to satisfy the work-ready and post-secondary components.
For work-ready, students must participate in either project-, service- or work-based learning, within or outside the classroom, designed to develop the knowledge and skills that the state's employers say they want their workers to have.
That could include completing a course capstone or long-term research project; "meaningful" volunteering or civic engagement; participating in co-curricular or extra-curricular activities, including high school sports; employment training through an internship; or working at an after-school job.
For post-secondary, students either would complete an honors diploma; receive a to-be-determined score on the ACT, SAT or military readiness exams; achieve a "C" average in at least three Advanced Placement and similar high-level classes, or career education courses; participate in a formal apprenticeship program; or earn an industry-recognized credential.
It's still unclear whether all options will be available to students at every school corporation, particularly those with limited resources or located in rural areas.
The new requirements are strongly supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Indiana Manufacturers Association.
They claim Hoosier employers consistently are unable to find a sufficient number of skilled employees to fill their open positions, and the changes will get students thinking about, and working toward, their careers beginning at age 13 or 14.
"The status quo is not working. The status quo is not enough," said Caryl Auslander, chamber vice president for education and workforce. "The good-paying jobs of today and the future simply require more than a just a high school diploma."
State school board member Tony Walker, of Gary, who voted in favor of graduation pathways, said he agrees — "It's the right thing to do."
"We're in an education crisis right now. We're not having the kind of production in terms of competencies among our graduates that we need to have either for workforce or higher ed," Walker said. "And this is a good step in the right direction."
Teachers, principals and superintendents from across Indiana told the state school board during six hours of public testimony Wednesday that the rush to adopt graduation pathways before finalizing how they'll work inevitably will result in another Indiana education fiasco, akin to extra-long standardized testing and the repeatedly revised school accountability grades.
Besides the question of whether all students will have equal access to every graduation pathway option, they said no one knows how the new requirements will affect students who transfer from a district offering a unique graduation pathway, or those who move to Indiana from other states.
In addition, educators questioned whether businesses have the capacity to accommodate and supervise some 250,000 high school students coming to them for internships and apprenticeships, in addition to asking how students will get to those unpaid jobs and whether their employers will undergo background checks like those required for teachers.
It's also not known how many additional guidance counselors will have to be hired to track and verify each student's graduation pathways progress, as well as how students with disabilities will be accommodated so they still can earn a high school diploma.
Moreover, the Legislature has not figured out how much all the extra work and testing and other graduation pathways options will cost, or who will pay for it.
Stacey Schmidt, superintendent of Porter Township School Corporation, told the state school board that she doesn't oppose the graduation pathways idea, but believes it should not have moved forward until most of those questions were definitively answered.
"The details have yet to be worked out and there are many conversations yet to be had," Schmidt said. "Hope is not a strategy that's good enough for our students in Indiana."
3 Floyds welcomes Travel Channel to Munster craft brewery's 'Food Paradise'
MUNSTER — If you've ever stepped foot into 3 Floyds, chances are it was because of its reputation as a world-renowned craft beer company. But have you ever stopped by — just to sample its eclectic food menu?
Probably not. And Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise" is hoping to change that.
The popular brewery and pub at 9750 Parkway in Munster closed its doors for lunch Wednesday so a nine-person production team for the major television network could have free reign during filming for an upcoming culinary documentary TV episode.
The bar/restaurant later reopened its doors that same afternoon and put a callout on social media letting patrons know they can stop by “if (they) want to try to get on TV.”
“Yes, they do great beer, but they also put out great food,” said Justin Harvey, a Los Angeles-based field producer with O'Malley Productions that contracts with the Travel Channel to produce "Food Paradise.” “These chefs here are everything we look for. This is big, fun food worth talking about. Class Midwest dishes with a twist.”
When the episode airs in winter 2018, it will highlight two mouthwatering recipes whipped up by 3 Floyds’ head chef Pat Niebling and chef de cuisine Scout Hughes, producers said.
Region natives Hughes and Niebling are known for rolling out new food menu items each season featuring local ingredients and crafted with specialty beers.
An eclectic menu
It’s fantastic to be recognized for 3 Floyds’ food menu, Hughes said. Much like its craft beer, the brewpub’s food menu is always rotating based, in part, on the locally sourced produce that's available, he said.
The eclectic menu's current lineup includes a salt-baked pork belly sandwich, a ribeye paired with cinnamon Himalayan rice and a scotch egg dish that stars pork sausage, dijonnaise, cornichon and mustard seed relish.
There’s the Mac and Cheese dish with sharp cheddar béchamel and housemade lardons, and chimichurri toasted panko. Another menu item is the dry coffee rub wings — brined and smoked, with pickled watermelon and celery leaves.
“It’s awesome,” Hughes said. “The pub has sort of always been in the shadow of beer and 3 Floyds’ reputation as a beer company, but we also want to step out of that shadow and stand out as a standalone restaurant.”
The Travel Channel likes to keep secret the dishes they plan to feature so the episode is “fresh and exciting” for television viewers, Harvey said.
Not long after 3 Floyds reopened its door Wednesday, nearly every seat in the brewpub was filled with people anxious to be on TV. As people entered the building, they were asked by production crew members to sign release forms — just in case they wind up in the final edit.
'I was nervous at first'
Cousins Julie Dobrinski, 30, and Emily McEowen, 31, of Homewood, Illinois, were among the lucky few asked to take part in an on-camera interview as they sampled two of 3 Floyds’ menu items.
Dobrinkski and McEowen sat at a center table near the bar as field producer Harvey walked them through a number of takes, the camera rolling.
“I was nervous at first because no typically talks in front of a camera like that, but they helped prompt us and they gave us some ground rules,” she said.
Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise” show is far from scripted and the production crew’s primary job is to document, Harvey said.
Before the doors reopened Wednesday, Harvey and Niebling were in the back kitchen going through a few takes highlighting one of the two featured dishes.
Niebling joined the 3 Floyds staff seven years ago before working his way up from line cook to executive chef. He said he is excited to see the episode air.
“These guys were really professional, putting everything together. Me and Scout are not really camera guys, but they were super cool and they’ll make us look good," he said.
Winter storm watch expected Friday night in LaPorte, St. Joseph counties
LaPorte and St. Joseph counties will be under a winter storm watch beginning Friday night and lasting through Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service.
Heavy and blowing snow is possible, the NWS said, with wind gusts of 20 to 35 mph.
Drivers should plan for difficult travel conditions, the weather service said. Total snow accumulations of 5 to 8 inches are possible, with localized heavier amounts expected.
A Winter Storm Watch means there is potential for significant snow, sleet or ice accumulations that may impact travel, the NWS said.
A dusting of snow overnight made for a slippery Thursday morning commute throughout Northwest Indiana.
Snow is expected to fall mainly before noon Saturday in Lake and Porter counties, while LaPorte County could see a transition to lake-effect snow flurries Saturday afternoon and evening.
UPDATE: 2 dead, 2 wounded in 4 shootings since Sunday in Gary
GARY — A man was found shot to death after a crash early Thursday on the city's West Side, marking the city's 46th homicide of the year, officials said.
The shooting was one of two reported Thursday morning and the fourth since Sunday.
Gary police were dispatched about 12:15 a.m. Thursday to the area of West 15th Avenue and Porter Street for a crash with injuries, Lt. Dawn Westerfield said.
Officers and medics arrived and found a man with gunshot wounds, she said. Lake County coroner's investigators pronounced the man dead at the scene.
The man was shot in the 1500 block of Burr Street in Gary, which is several blocks west of the crash scene, according to a coroner's release.
The man has not yet been identified, pending notification of family. The death was ruled a homicide.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Cpl. James Bond, of the Lake County/Gary Metro Homicide Unit, at 219-755-3855.
About 5:40 a.m. Thursday, a 50-year-old Gary man was robbed and shot in the 300 block of Garfield Street, police said.
The 50-year-old told police he was walking to his vehicle when a man approached him and asked for money. The 50-year-old refused, and the man said, "Don't make me shoot you," Westerfield said.
The 50-year-old gave the man $5 from his pocket, and the man began patting down the 50-year-old. The 50-year-old noticed the man look away, attempted to tackle him and the two fell to the ground, police said.
The man broke free, stood up and fired several shots at the 50-year-old. The 50-year-old suffered a minor gunshot wound to the ear, police said.
On Monday, 68-year-old Gary resident Ronald Richardson was found shot to death inside his home in the 300 block of Taft Street, police said.
A relative called police after going to check on Richardson and finding him unresponsive. The relative last spoke with Richardson on Sunday, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Jeff Minchuk, of the homicide unit, at 219-755-3855.
On Sunday, a 43-year-old Gary man was wounded and a home was damaged during a shooting about 8:50 p.m. in the 1700 block of Martin Luther King Drive, police said.
The 43-year-old man told police he was walking to his vehicle when a man in a mask approached and began shooting at him. The 43-year-old returned fire and got in the vehicle, police said.
The man was shot in the leg, but was able to escape in the vehicle, police said. He flagged down an ambulance in the area of East 21st Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive.
Police later learned a home in the 1500 block of East 19th Avenue and a television inside the home had been damaged during the shootout, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Sgt. Michael Barnes at 219-881-1210.
Thursday's homicide is the 46th in Gary so far this year, according to police and death records. That's the same number of homicides the city logged in all of 2016. Gary recorded 50 homicides in 2015.
To anonymously report crime in Gary, call 866-CRIME-GP.
Region basketball community honors legacy of Marvin Rea
Some looked at Marvin Rea as a basketball recruiter who took all-star teams to state in order to cut down nets.
But those who were closest to Rea saw a much different side to the basketball legend, who was killed on Tuesday afternoon in a car accident on I-65 near Lafayette.
"Instead of having our environment raise us, Marvin used basketball to mold us into men," said Tyrae Robinson, a star guard on Bowman Academy's 2010 Class A state championship team. "He taught us to work hard, stay out of trouble and do the right things.
"He wanted us to carry those skills and attitudes off the basketball court and on into life."
Robinson noted that 10 players on the 2010 team went on to college. He played two years at Ball State and two more at the University of Indianapolis. Robinson played two years of ABA basketball.
Now, he is an entrepreneur with his mother in Oklahoma City.
Robinson heard the horrific news Tuesday night, and is planning on returning home when the services are announced.
"He was like a father-figure to me," Robinson said. "It seems unreal. I lived with him for awhile so I have more inside of me about it. I'm still trying not to think about it. I still have so much energy inside of me because of him."
Luis Roldan is a member of the Northwest Athletic Officials Association, which is a basketball organization for referees. He's worked so many of Bowman's games his friendship with Rea was pretty tight.
Rea coached at Bowman from 2007 through January of 2015. He led the Eagles to the 2010 state title, the 2012 Class 2A state runner-up, the 2013 2A state crown and the 2014 Class 3A runner-up finish.
Four state finals in five years has never been done in Region history.
But Roldan recalled last year's Bowman at Lighthouse game, in Rea's first year as the Lions coach. Two young officials were working with Roldan that night and Rea wanted to see if they were ready.
"There was a call that Marvin didn't like and he had the ball and one of the young guys came over to get it," Roldan said. "It was hot in the gym and the door was open so he threw the ball outside. I ran over and he said, 'You're not going to call a T on me. One of them has to do it."
Roldan said Rea had a smile on his face.
So when one of the younger officials came over and called the technical foul on Rea, he said to Roldan, "Ok, now he can ref games here."
Roldan also worked the Chesterton-Lighthouse game earlier this season. Roldan called a block against the Lions and Rea went a little crazy, then winked to the ref. Later, Roldan made the same call than benefited Rea, who just looked at him with a big smile.
"There are a lot of hurt kids in Gary right now," Roldan said. "There are a lot of officials in our association who are hurting. He was the first AD (at Bowman) who reached out to us and we started working all those big games at his place against great teams.
"He was tough on us in those games. He was funny on the sidelines. He was always, always fair."
Roldan spoke of how Rea taught character to his team. If an official spoke to Rea about the behavior of one of his players, the zebras didn't have to do a thing.
"Marvin would handle it," Roldan said. "For the most part, his players played the game right. Gary lost a great one."
Rea also reached out to suburban teams, something that wasn't happening much on the schedule at that time. His legacy and his teams started getting schools like Crown Point, Chesterton, Lake Central and Munster to put the Eagles on their schedules.
He was doing the same thing at Lighthouse, too.
"I knew how his guys played, that's why we wanted to play them," C.P. coach Clint Swan said. "I knew how hard they played and how competitive they were. We saw the mentality Marvin instilled in his kids.
"Yes, he had really good players. But his fingerprints were all over the way they played the game. And I respected him for that."
Swan has always called himself a basketball "junkie" that goes back to his younger days. He recalled seeing Rea, wearing goggles as a Roosevelt Panther, leading coach Ron Heflin's team to the 1987 state finals.
Swan recalled seeing the photo of Rea winning the Trester Award for mental attitude.
"What an honor and he was able to take that with him for the rest of his life," Swan said. "The impact he had on kids' lives was something special. This hit me really hard. We're all part of a coaching fraternity and you just hate to see something like this happen."
Donnie King did Bowman's scorebook for five seasons, after doing the same thing at Wirt for decades. King has been around Gary basketball all of his life and his love for it goes down to his very core.
He remembers Rea as a young kid playing ball in the streets and gyms of Gary with find memories.
"I'm in shock," King said. "He was a great man. I worked for a lot of great coaches, but Marvin was the best. He brought me on and allowed me to win a state championship and I'll never forget him.
"He touched a lot of people in Gary, around the Region and all around the state. I love that man."