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Class of 2019
June 5, 2019

I admit it, commencement holds a special place in my heart. It may even make me a little teary eyed at times. The perspective I have during the ceremony, looking out over a sea of potential and hope, is simply amazing.

What I like most about commencement is that it is the great equilizer. It is likely the last time in the lives of the students when every one of them is at exactly the same place, with no differentiation between them. GPA no longer matters, the activities in which you participated no longer hold status, how many friends you had is no longer important, etc. Every young adult graduating is on equal ground, ready to follow his/her individual pathway into adulthood.

I love and am proud of each student who will be graduating on June 6. Each one of them holds a special place in the hearts of the staff who have worked with them over the years. Simply put, our kids are amazing. There is something uniquely special about being able to say that you are an Indian. Not everyone understands this, but those who do understand, recognize that you are and always will be part of a tribe that stands up for and supports one another.

The future is certainly bright for our Class of 2019! Congratulations to all of our soon-to-be graduates!

Dr. Lausch
Charter and Cyber-Charter Schools
May 7, 2019

As a public school superintendent, people often think that I do not appreciate educational alternatives outside of public education. That thought could not be farther from the truth. One of my core beliefs is that each student's educational journey is very personal and no one option will work for all students. There is most certainly a place for private, charter and cyber-charter educational opportunities for students as public schools do not "work" for everyone.

Recently, there has been a lot of information in the news about charter and cyber-charter schools. Most of the discussion has been centered on accountability and funding for charter schools and cyber-charter schools. While I firmly believe that options should be provided, I also firmly believe that the accountability and funding for those options should be equitable. Sadly, it is not. Public education is held to a much higher standard than charter and cyber-charters.

While I could continue to write about this information, I do not need to do so. IU 13 has created a fact sheet comparing the funding and accountability of charters/cyber-charters to public school districts. Please take a moment to review the documents (below this message) and, regardless of upon which "side" you fall, I encourage you to contact your local legislators to share your opinions. Change only occurs when constituents make their opinions known.

Dr. Lausch
Donegal Life Ready
January 29, 2019

Recently, the District leadership team has been spending time discussing what it means to be "life ready." We believe that each one of our students has his/her own unique path that will require specialized skills and characteristics necessary for success in life beyond Donegal. We also believe that a common set of skills and characteristics exists. This common set of skills and characteristics which we desire every student to attain are what we are calling "Donegal Life Ready."

I could easily make a list of skills and characteristics that I believe are important, then dictate everyone teach these to students. The problem with this is only what I believe to be important is what will be taught. I believe it is important to engage our entire community in this conversation; our students, parents, staff, community and School Board need to be involved.

What skills and characteristics do you believe are critical for our students to possess when they move from being a Donegal student to becoming a Donegal graduate? In the coming months, we will be asking you that very question. I sincerely hope you take the time to reflect upon this question and provide us with your input. We don't want our students to be only life ready, we want them to be Donegal Life Ready and we cannot prepare them to be that without you.

Dr. Lausch
  • Life-Ready Work with the DSD School Board
    Last month, I wrote about preparing our students to be life-ready. This work has begun! Enjoy some photographs of the various groups who have already partnered with us to identify the skills and characteristics necessary for our students to be successful in their life journey.
  • Life-Ready Work with Community Partners
    Our comprehensive plan team recently engaged in a life-ready activity.
  • Life-Ready work with the Mount Joy Chamber of Commerce
    The Mount Joy Chamber of Commerce was the first community group to provide their input.
Thankful in DSD
November 30, 2018

This time of year often causes people to reflect upon life and things for which we are thankful. I, too, have been reflecting quite a bit recently and believe there is much to be thankful for in the Donegal School District.

As someone who has worked in two other districts prior to Donegal, I recognize that the "Green Nation" is special. The level of pride in the schools and support shown toward families and colleagues does not exist everywhere. Our staff works exceptionally hard to provide experiences for students that are unique and help prepare them to be "life ready." While I certainly cannot capture everything that occurs in Donegal, I did want to share a few of those things I have seen occur since the start of the year. Below is a brief list:

Members of the maintenance staff met with students to answer questions about careers in carpentry, HVAC, electrical, etc.
As a result of student interests and questions, Mrs. Splain arranged for students to Skype with a scientist and find the answers they desired.
Mr. Haldeman arranged a variety of experiences for students and staff to connect with Lancaster County businesses and learn what is expected of graduates.
Mr. Swisher and Mr. Black taught Mr. McCreary's students about video production and even rolled out the red carpet for the premier of their videos.
Mrs. Schlasta taught kindergarten students how to use deductive/inductive reasoning to independently solve problems.
Mrs. Hollinger taught her math students that failure can be productive if we learn from our mistakes.
Finally, there was an overwhelming level of support shown for a neighboring district by all students and staff.

Again, this list is in no way comprehensive, it is only a small sample of the types of things that occur every day in Donegal. I am thankful that we have staff members who put student needs ahead of their own. I am thankful that we have a community that is supportive and proud of their school district. Most of all, I am thankful that I get to be a part of this amazing place!

I sincerely hope you are thankful for our partnership and wish everyone peace and joy in this holiday season.

Dr. Lausch
Our Community
September 5, 2018

When planning for a start of school update, I had anticipated writing about the outstanding opening to the 2018-2019 school year. However, this past Friday, we had an unprecedented weather event in our community. What I have seen and heard since Friday, changed my thinking.

For those who do not know, the Mount Joy area received a deluge of rain in a short period of time. Some reports have rainfall totals as high as 12-13 inches over the course of Friday afternoon. The monsoon like rains turned streets into rivers and created dangerous situations across our area.

The damage that occurred from the heavy rains has been widespread. There are some that had no impact, some who got a little water in their home, some who had flooded basements and others who have lost everything.

While this may sound like a sad tale, and in many cases it is, what has come out of this is a demonstration of community support like no other. First responders are working non-stop to help people in need. Neighbors who have suffered loss are putting their own needs aside to help others. The kindness and generosity of everyone is shining through. We are exceptionally proud to be a part of this community.

As a school district, we are taking our role in the recovery very seriously. We believe the best thing we can do right now is care for the children. We commit to ensuring our children are safe and cared for while at school. We commit to providing a listening ear and counseling services, if needed, to any child who needs to talk about their stress. We commit to understanding when assignments may not be completed because clean-up of a home is taking precedence. Ultimately, as always, we commit to loving and caring for the children of our community. Please contact your child's school if you need to inform us of anything related to your child and family's situation.
After all, we are all One Tribe!

Dr. Lausch
Teen Hope
Teen Hope
August 1, 2018

Donegal is beginning its second year of partnership with Samaritan Counseling Center to provide TeenHope to our students. TeenHope is a mental health awareness program in local middle and high schools, which screens students for depression, anxiety and suicide risk. Donegal offers this voluntary program to students in seventh grade. “The program is designed to build a school culture where mental health issues are openly discussed in a supportive environment,” said Gerald Ressler, Executive Director of Samaritan Counseling Center. It educates students about nurturing their own mental health and educates teachers on how to respond when a student comes to them for help.

All participating students complete a short questionnaire which is scored immediately. All students that complete the screening meet with an on-site mental health professional for the opportunity to ask questions. Students are encouraged to identify adults, in and out of school, to whom they could go to ask for help. Each student is given the national suicide prevention hotline number and asked to enter it into their contacts. If a student screens positive for depression, anxiety or suicidal ideation, this interview involves further evaluation and contact with the parents to determine what type of referral for services is appropriate. Further counseling can be provided by Samaritan or other providers.

In Lancaster County, 36% of teens have felt depressed or sad most days in the past year, 16% of students have had serious suicide thoughts in the past year, and 9.7% of students have attempted suicide at least once. This program helps identify students who we otherwise may not have realized were in need. Teens need to know that they can talk about depression and ask for the help without being afraid.

Samaritan administers the program and provides the team of counselors that screens hundreds of students each semester – all at no charge to the District. We have appreciated the partnership with Teen Hope. TeenHope is 100% donor funded! To learn more about TeenHope visit Samaritan Counseling Center’s website at