LONG CREEK - Long Creek School, despite its small enrollment, is showing it has plenty to offer its students this year.
The school has added Aspire, a statewide program in which adult volunteers mentor high school students one-on-one about on career choices.
"We're the only school in Grant County offering Aspire," said superintendent/principal Roy Durfee.
Marsie Watson is the school's coordinator for Aspire.
The school is continuing another special program, Ethos music, which was added about five years ago.
Ethos, taught by AmeriCorps volunteers, provides music classes for students through eighth-grade, as well as afternoon lessons open to the community.
Two AmeriCorps staffers head up Ethos at both Long Creek and Monument schools: Sei Harris from Massachusetts and Deidra Montgomery from New York.
Durfee also is proud of the school's strong ag program. In the soil judging contest held at Long View Ranch in Kimberly last week, Long Creek's team placed third out of six schools participating.
Other signs of academic success cited by Durfee: some high school students are taking online college courses at Blue Mountain and Treasure Valley community colleges, and they may add Eastern Oregon University online classes next semester.
On the athletics side, the Lady Mountaineers volleyball team had its first win in two years in a recent game against Huntington. Boosters note that some of those losses have been close games, however.
"The girls are right up in there with the others," Durfee said.
The school is scheduling both boys and girls basketball this winter, and golf in the spring. In all sports, Long Creek goes its own way, not combining forces with teams from other schools.
The school has four full-time teachers this year: Denise Porter and Patch Freeman, preschool through elementary, and Craig Bradley and Rob Coulson, middle and high school. Joe Wallace also teaches three math classes in the upper grades, while Durfee, in his third year at the school, handles ag science and career courses.
Durfee said that with tight budgets, all the staff at the school agreed to take cuts in pay and hours to prevent the loss of any jobs.
Long Creek has seven foreign students helping to fill out the school's roster: Svenja Berger from Germany and Rita Covarrubias from Bolivia, both staying with Nancy Morgan; Frederik Ellekilde, Denmark, staying with Ed and Linda Studtmann; Nechoma Ruffing, Germany, whose host parents are David and Donnell Brush; Phong "James" Nguyen, Vietnam, and Manuel Cabral, Mexico, both staying with Mike and Myla Corley; and Ryunhyeon "Hyeon" Kwon, South Korea, who is staying in Tina Hughes' home.
Total enrollment from preschool through grade 12 is 42 students, similar to last year. Twenty of the students are in the high school, which has three seniors: Cabral, Kwon and Jerrod Wirth.
Cabral and Kwon are returning foreign students from last year. Cabral is here this year on a student visa; Kwon, who arrived mid-year last January, will leave in January 2012.
Durfee said that the school year has gotten off to a great start and everyone's enthusiasm is high.
"The teachers have noticed how hard they (the students) are learning," Durfee said. "This is the best start of a school year that we've had."