Hearts were heavy Tuesday night as the Depew Board of Education opened its meeting with a moment of silence for Damon Janes, a 16-year-old athlete who succumbed to injuries suffered after a collision during the Westfield-Brocton high school football game against Portville on Friday night.
Soon after the gesture, discussion turned to how Depew coaches and area officials have worked to decrease the risk of injuries to student-athletes.
Superintendent Jeffrey R. Rabey, who also serves as Section VI president, stressed that program leaders are doing all they can to minimize the risks. Much also has been done through legislation, he said, including enactment of the state Concussion Management and Awareness Act, which toughened guidelines surrounding how students are evaluated for such injuries and under which circumstances they are permitted to return to the field.
Rabey added that two other keys to prevention are educating students on quickly reporting when they have been hurt so proper treatment can begin and emphasizing to children that they should never lead with their head.
Trustee Patrick S. Law said that in light of the tragedy, he was surprised that no residents asked the board about Depew’s handling of such issues. He said he feels that Depew’s coaches teach students to approach football and other sports in the correct manner and that he would have no qualms about letting his own child play.
“I still feel pretty good about it,” he said.
Also during the meeting, the board learned that the Credit Recovery Program at Depew High School has helped the school to boost its graduation rate.
The program was implemented in 2010 to help freshmen and sophomores who had failed several courses to take them again online in the hopes of graduating on time.
Carol A. Townsend, principal of the high school, said that for the 2012-13 academic year, 13 credits were earned by 13 students out of the 20 who were enrolled, while over the summer, 20 credits were earned by 17 students out of the 28 enrolled. She added that four seniors were able to make up eight courses in order to graduate on time and that since the program’s inception, 66 students have earned 83 credits toward graduation.
Townsend is convinced that the Credit Recovery Program has contributed to a large improvement in Depew’s graduation rate. In June 2011, the rate stood at 77 percent, while at the end of the 2012-13 school year, it hit 90 percent.
“Now the challenge is to stay there and to continue on,” she said.
The board’s next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 in the cafeteria at the high school, 5201 Transit Road.