2023 In Review | Education
- Published: January 19, 2024
Restructuring, property sales
Antioch College President Jane Fernandes announced in February that the college had eliminated nine staff and faculty positions, with plans to restructure an additional eight positions with title changes and salary reductions. The college also reported that department budgets for programming — including for the Coretta Scott King Center and Herndon Gallery — had been eliminated and that hours for paid, on-campus student jobs were reduced.
In August, Antioch College announced that it would list some of its land and buildings for lease or sale. Property announced as being for sale or lease included the Sontag-Fels building, West Hall and the Kettering Building, as well as two parcels on the corner of Livermore and East North College streets, with a total of 16 parcels and 6.65 acres to become available.
In December, the college sold a parcel of land to the YS Senior Center for a new facility to be sited in the future.
New initiatives, programming
Antioch College offered community-based learning courses in July and August. Antioch faculty taught many of the courses, with an eye toward “hands-on” engagement. Offered were courses on social enterprise and innovation, environmental literature and oral history methodologies and permaculture design.
In September, the Foundry Theater at Antioch College announced that it would host three local artistic groups in residence: aerial dance and theater company GravityWorks, the World House Choir and Mad River Theater Works. At the same time, newly hired Foundry Theater Director Chris Westhoff instituted the theater’s first season of programming, which includes musical and theater performances.
The Coretta Scott King Center at Antioch College hosted and sponsored several workshops and talks throughout the year, including the two-day “Getting to the Root” event, which focused on strengthening antiracist efforts, in April; and a two-day workshop centered on the genealogy of Black Civil War veterans of Yellow Springs, in December.
Eighteen graduates crossed the mound at Antioch College during the annual commencement ceremony in June. The commencement address was given by Minneapolis, Minnesota-based organizer Oluchi Omeoga, a co-founder of Black Visions and a co-founder and co-executive director of the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project.
In fall, the college announced that it was one of 13 small liberal arts colleges that had been awarded $100,000 this year and $75,000 next year to address campus wellness — particularly mental health. The grant was funded by the New York City-based Endeavor Foundation.
THE ANTIOCH SCHOOL
Guy Davis headlines benefit
The Antioch School held its Scholarship Gala fundraising event at the Foundry Theater in April. Headlining this year’s gala event was Grammy-nominated blues musician Guy Davis.
New director takes the helm
Aillevrah Turner began the new year as the new director of the YS Community Children’s Center. A Columbus native now living in Springfield, Turner has been part of the staff of the Children’s Center since 2018, and replaced former director Dana Zackey after serving as Zackey’s assistant director since 2022.
In March, YS Schools launched the “Bulldog Blitz” podcast, which aims to feature students talking in-depth about project-based learning and other work. The same month, the schools also launched the inaugural ESports team at McKinney Middle and Yellow Springs High schools.
In July, prompted by a letter from a group of concerned area parents, the school board discussed how to address the use of phones and other mobile devices in schools. Ultimately, the district decided to use Yondr pouches, which keep phones on a student’s person but locked in a magnetically sealed bag, with the aim of cutting down on phone distractions. The district announced at the end of 2023 that the Yondr pouches would go into effect after students returned from winter break.
At the beginning of the 2023–24 school year, McKinney Middle School and Yellow Springs High School rolled out a new program that aims to address students’ emotional wellbeing. The new program, “Sources of Strength,” is sponsored by the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation and Prevention First and is designed to reduce the risk of suicide, bullying and substance abuse.
The 61 graduates of the Class of 2023 officially said “farewell” to Yellow Springs High School on May 25 as they graduated in the school’s gym. This year’s senior speakers were Isaac Ellis and Daphne Trillana.
Outgoing senior and track team member Malcolm Blunt competed in the 200-meter dash and the long jump at the 2023 Ohio High School Athletic Association state track meet in June. Blunt placed 15th in the long jump and received a medal for a seventh-place finish in the 200-meter dash finals with a time of 22.41 seconds — a personal best. Blunt became the first YSHS runner in 26 years to earn a medal in the state 200-meter dash.
Yellow Springs athletic teams also made their mark within the Metro Buckeye Conference this calendar year: In spring of the 2022–23 school year, the boys tennis team were conference champs for the first time in nearly three decades, and the girls softball team took second place in the conference.
Getting off to a good start for the 2023–24 school year, the girls volleyball team were again conference champs this fall, as they were the year before. The boys soccer team also made a good showing, securing second place in the conference.
YS schools performed four shows in 2023: In April, the annual spring musical was “Mamma Mia!” and the theater program presented a reprise of the fall 2022 show, “Five Scripts Toward an Anti-Racist Tomorrow”; in September, the fall play was “She Kills Monsters”; and in December, the winter play was “Bridge to Terabithia.”
The district received an overall five-star rating — the highest rating possible — on its 2022–23 state report card, which was released by the Ohio Department of Education in September.
With hopes of beginning a new tradition, McKinney Middle and Yellow Springs High School students celebrated National Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month with a cultural fair and assembly in October. The event — the first of its kind for YS Schools — was conceived and organized by students.
In November, YSHS student Emily Barth was named a Commended Student in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program. Commended Students placed among the top 50,000 students who entered the 2024 National Merit Scholarship competition by taking the 2022 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
The schools ended the year by marking the 75th anniversary of the beloved annual School Forest Festival, wherein community members are invited to cut their own Christmas trees, aided by YSHS School Forest Club members.
Farewells, new faces
Three longtime educators — study hall monitor and aide Paul Comstock, biology teacher Iyabo Eguaroje and French teacher and counselor Dave Smith — retired from YS Schools in May, at the end of the 2022–23 school year.
In August, school board President TJ Turner announced that he was resigning from his position due to a military deployment. Turner’s term was set to end Dec. 31, 2023. Scott Fife was selected by the board to finish Turner’s term, and Dorothée Bouquet, who had previously served as the board’s vice president, became board president.
In November, voters elected school board newcomers Rebecca Potter and Amy (Cordova) Bailey to four-year terms that will begin in January. In December, the board honored Turner and outgoing board members Fife and Luisa Bieri Rios for their terms of service.