Students are hitting the books this week as the doors to seven Grant County public schools opened Monday for the 2017-18 school year.
From new students and staff to new programs, here is an update on each local district as the school year begins.
Dayville School District
Kathryn Hedrick, in her third year as superintendent/principal, said they are moving “full-speed ahead” at Dayville School District.
Enrollment is at 48 students, and includes four foreign exchange students this year. Additionally, there are nine preschool students.
At the beginning of last school year, enrollment was at 48 students.
The teaching staff is the same as last year, and Lonnie Dickens is the new maintenance coordinator.
The school is also partnering with Community Counseling Solutions, and will have Jacki Miller available as a school counselor.
“We’re just excited to have the kids back, and we’re still committed to the idea of STEM,” Hedrick said, adding the idea is to allow students applied learning opportunities outside the classroom.
Monument School District
Monument School District welcomes new interim Superintendent Ron Frieh of Springfield.
The district has 47 enrolled students, down from 60 at the beginning of last school year.
The school also has a new math/science teacher, William Rosenburgh, and Jessica Hudson, who had been teaching preschool, now instructs grades 2-3.
Grant School District
Grant School District No. 3 Superintendent Curt Shelley said he’s eager for the new school year.
The district includes Grant Union Junior-Senior, Humbolt and Seneca schools.
“We are in an exciting time in education,” he said. “I am looking forward to concentrating on board priorities to include student achievement, communication with stakeholders and creating a sustainable budget. Specifically, I am eager to work with new and returning staff members.”
He added they’ll have a new challenge in working toward seismic grant upgrades at Humbolt and Seneca schools.
Overall district enrollment is at 614 this year, compared to about 610 at this time last year.
Enrollment at Grant Union is at 284. Principal Ryan Gerry said they have four new staff members joining the school, including two from within the school district.
Kristin Moore, a graduate of Dayville High School, is teaching English for grades 9-12, and Angela Smith will teach English for grades 7-9.
Gerry said two familiar faces from the district include Andrea Ferreira who will teach seventh-grade math and Eva Vaughan who will be a full-time special education teacher.
New elective classes this year include Introduction to Automotive, taught by Jason Miller, and Spanish III, a dual enrollment class offered through Eastern Oregon University.
In an effort to increase communication with families, Gerry said they’ve created Twitter accounts (@PrincipalGerry and GU_Athletics) to send out updates and quick announcements through the school year.
There are 300 students enrolled at Humbolt Elementary, with possibly a few more students joining.
“I’m looking forward to working with a positive and professional staff focused on assisting students with reaching their highest potential both academically and socially,” said Principal Kim Smith. “The culture of our school has shifted, and the team we have is absolutely outstanding.”
She said there is a new curriculum for science and social skills.
New teachers include first-grade teachers Elsa Spence and Larne Sheehy, third/fourth blend teacher Brittany Doherty, along with Robyn Miller.
Ali Abrego is a new special education teacher, Justin Larson is the new PE teacher and Andrea Ferreira is teaching Title 1 math.
Other new hires include: educational assistants Rose Guzman, Vanessa Houpt and McKenzie Davis, and custodian Jordan Walker.
Smith added the student council will include one student from each of the grade 4-6 classrooms who will serve quarterly.
Seneca’s head teacher Andrea Combs said the school’s enrollment stands at 30 students.
Long Creek School District
Long Creek Superintendent/Principal Del Dykstra said, following a busy week with eclipse visitors, the staff was geared up for the first day of school.
There are 35 students enrolled at Long Creek. Last year, 34 students were enrolled at the start of the school year.
“We are all looking forward for the first day and all the opportunities that lie ahead,” Dykstra said late last week.
“Students will have many opportunities to participate in athletics, field trips, assemblies, and classroom activities,” he said. “Teachers are excited to meet their students.”
Prairie City School District
At Prairie City School District, Superintendent/Principal Julie Gurczynski said the vision is “Every student, every day.”
There are 135 students enrolled in the K-12 school. Last year, there were about 145 students enrolled at this time.
New teachers include Emily Kokesh, K-12 art; Lindy Cruise, agricultural education; and Caroline Colson, middle and high school English.
Gurczynski said Prairie City was one of 11 schools to receive the Oregon RTI (response to instruction and intervention) grant.
The grant provides for technical assistance with the design, planning, training and implementation of Response to Instruction and Intervention systems for the K-6 teachers.
“This is a big feather in our cap,” Gurczynski said. “We have been working very hard for the past two years in the area of literacy in hopes we would receive this grant when it was available again.”
The school is partnering with Community Counseling Solutions in John Day for a two-day-per-week counseling program.
Maxine Day, who has many years of counseling experience, will provide services for the school.
Among other goals is helping students, beginning with kindergartners, develop a mindset to strive to miss fewer than five school days during the school year.
“When a student misses school for any reason, they miss important instruction and may fall behind their peers,” she said, adding, “Research proves a direct correlation between success in school and the number of days a student attends school.”