Irvington Community School News & Events

On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever (Almost) on the ICES Campus

We’re still getting used to the amazingly clear view around the ICES campus as a result of the brush and tree removal that took place in early November. Stewart’s Tree Service spent several days on campus removing invasive plants and other undesirable growth that had run amok in several areas, including the old “north woods,” detention pond, and on the west side of the building. This had presented a significant safety and security concern for some time. A school safety grant awarded to Irvington Community Schools by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute supported the project.

Caption: Long shadows are cast by several ICS School Safety Specialists as they inspect the new look school grounds following the grant-supported work performed by Stewart’s Tree Service in November.

Eliminating potential cover for criminal activity is known in law enforcement circles as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). Irvington Community Elementary School Director of Operations Jennifer Daugherty, who is also an Indiana Department of Education School Safety Specialist (one of four on our corporate staff), says, “I’m thrilled at the new extended sight lines we now have across the campus. Thanks to the work of our School Safety Committee, we now have a much more secure campus. School safety will always be a key part of our corporation’s focus on continuous improvement."

Lead Photo Caption: The ICES Outdoor Classroom is now an unobstructed view from the Pennsy Trail — and vice-versa — as a result of the recent grounds improvement project funded by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

IPA’s First-Year Robotics Team is VEX Tournament Champion

Irvington Preparatory Academy’s (IPA) Robotics Team competed in the 3rd Annual Indy VEX Robotics Championship (IndyVRC) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on November 15 and 16, 2014. The Ravens went 6-2 during qualifying rounds and were part of a three-team alliance that captured the VEX Tournament Champion Award. Bishop Chatard High School and Providence Cristo Rey partnered with IPA in the winning effort. Forty-nine local high school teams participated. Remarkably, the IPA Robotics Team, comprised of 11 students, is in its first year, under the direction of Coach Andrew Mundell.

According to Mundell, the robots had two tasks: to build a tower out of interlocking cylinders and to lift hollow cubes onto the constructed tower and other posts around the game field. Mundell, who also teaches mathematics at Irvington Prep, says, “We are especially proud of our accomplishment given it’s our rookie year.” His competitive nature showing, he adds, “I should point out that our robot consistently scored cubes on the highest towers. We are glad to make the Ravens proud!” The Irvington team also took the CREATE AWARD for having a robot that incorporated a creative engineering solution to the design challenges of the game.

The competition helps to encourage student interest in pursuing careers in STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. IndyVRC is sponsored by the City of Indianapolis and Roche Diagnostics. According to Mayor Greg Ballard, this is the largest citywide robotics competition in the United States.


Another successful blood drive occurred on Thursday, November 13th,  thanks to the selflessness of our IPA Ravens! Forty units of blood were collected from students, staff, and community mem-bers. As well, 15 others generously attempted to donate but had to be turned away due to such issues as iron deficiency. Blood drives such as IPA’s help the Indiana Blood Center supply 60 Indiana hospitals, including Riley Hospital for Children, with blood product. Each unit of blood can help as many as three hospital patients.

Be sure to mark your calendars for the 7th Annual Jesse Terry Memorial Blood Drive on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, from 2:30-6:30 p.m. in the IPA Gym.


ICS eLearning Coach Polly Brelage gives blood for the good of the cause: those in need of lifesaving blood products throughout Indiana.

Lead Photo Caption: Senior Mary K. is one of many Ravens who donated blood earlier in November here at IPA.

Robotically Inclined Ravens Compete Well in B-Town

The ICMS Robotics Ravens held their own during the 9th Annual Bloomington Robotics Club and IVY Tech Comm College Robotics Competition on Saturday, November 1st. The contest – called “Raise Some Racquet” -- was held in the Indiana Center for Life Sciences in Bloomington, Ind. The robotics challenge was to pick up/collect racquetballs and place them in elevated troughs with an assigned color to each team within a time limit. The VEX robot system was used, built from parts similar to an Erector construction set. The Ravens took five of six qualifying matches. Both middle and high school teams competed.

The ICMS Ravens will next be competing in the 3rd Annual City of Indianapolis VEX Robotics Championship, the largest citywide robotics championship in the nation, which takes place on November 15th and 16th in the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. The Indianapolis Mayor’s Office provided ICMS the VEX IQ robot for this competition, which is similar to the Lego building system.
The ICMS Robotics Ravens are led by Bob Cole, mentor; Mrs. Pouch, manager; and Mrs. Lutz, coach. Six ICMS student “engineers” currently participate.

Lead Photo Caption: Robotics Ravens Coach Lutz is shown with several of her engineers during the recent competition in Bloomington.

Dear ICS Parents and Guardians:

By now you have probably heard about Irvington Community Schools’ exciting new 1:1 technology program, in which each student in grades 6-12 will be provided a notebook computer to use at school. Our students will greatly benefit from the numerous instructional strategies available to teachers through this technology and from access to educational resources available on the Internet. However, the funding for this program is in jeopardy – and ICS needs your help.

Until now, ICS has faced two barriers in providing 1:1 technology, given the fact that charter schools in Indiana are significantly underfunded. The first barrier is the cost of the computers themselves. The second barrier is that even if we could afford all those computers, we do not have the high bandwidth infrastructure – the fiber optic connections and the internal wiring – to support all of those devices being online simultaneously.

Earlier this year, ICS leaders found a cost-effective way to obtain both the computers and the wireless infrastructure by participating in a program offered by T-Mobile. Under the terms of the program, T-Mobile would provide 680 notebook computers, cellular data service for them, and storage cabinets for the machines. In addition, T-Mobile needed to install high-capacity fiber optic connections to the Internet and increase the bandwidth both within and between our three campuses, so the notebooks would function wirelessly and operate at an acceptable level. At the end of the three-year contract, the improvements and equipment would all belong to ICS.

Essentially, 680 three-year cellular data contracts made it worthwhile to T-Mobile to provide half a million dollars in infrastructure to ICS. In exchange, ICS would pay approximately $1.5 million over three years, with 80% of that funding coming from E-Rate, a federal program under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC approved the funding in March 2014. Yet in July 2014, the FCC issued an E-Rate Modernization Order, which requires that E-Rate funding for telephone services be phased out in favor of broadband services, unless broadband is not the least expensive way to provide Internet access. T-Mobile’s program to provide computers and broadband infrastructure is tied to a cellular contract. So the FCC is now threatening to revoke funding, even though the commission already approved the funding for 2014-2015. Nearly 70 other schools in Indiana are in the same situation.

If the FCC determines in its ongoing audit that this contract is the most inexpensive way for ICS to expand student access to the Internet, then we will get to keep our technology. The problem is that this might not actually be the cheapest way. If charter schools had funding for capital improvements such as technology infrastructure, or even a way to borrow money to cover such expenses, it might be cheaper for ICS to purchase the computers and install the necessary cables without a cellular plan. But given the financial position of charter schools in Indiana, this is not a viable option for ICS. The program offered by T-Mobile may or may not be the cheapest way, but it is the only way at this time for us to expand Internet connectivity for our students. If the FCC refuses to take into consideration the funding challenges of Indiana charter schools and revokes funding for our contract with T-Mobile, then this roadblock will indefinitely delay our schools’ goal of transitioning to 1:1 computing.

Here are three options for you to help us:
1. Write your own letter and mail or email it to the contacts listed here.
2. Send the attached form letter by email or regular mail with your signature, here.
3. Sign the electronic petition here.

We need your voice in reaching the members of the FCC, the ranking members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees the FCC, the White House, and the federal Department of Education before Nov. 10, the date the FCC has said it would complete the audit.

Thank you in advance for supporting our 1:1 technology initiative and speaking out on behalf of ICS and your children’s education.


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