Ready, set… It’s back-to-school with many new programs, projects

September, 2016 Posted in School

By Mary Owen

Curriculum and computers are just two of the “new” in schools this year.

North Santiam School District Superintendent Andy Gardner said a new math curriculum will begin for students in grades kindergarten through eighth.

“It is called Go Math and it focuses on engaging students as well as educating parents,” Gardner said. “We are excited to have the entire district unified into a single curriculum and have a district-wide goal to increase our math scores. This will build on last year’s goals related to student engagement.”

The addition of another 390 Google Chromebook computers will significantly increase the district’s tech footprint, bringing schools to a 1:2 ratio of students to computers in the district, Gardner said.

“Of course, a significant project this summer was the conversion of the field at the high school to a turf surface,” he added. “This project came about through the dedication and help – and sweat equity – of vast number of volunteers. This was a great example of a partnership that met mutual needs and allowed the project to move forward.”

Another project that is nearing completion is the construction of an outdoor play shed at Sublimity Middle School.

“Sublimity School is crowded, and during rainy weeks in the winter there are few places for the middle school to go,” Gardner said.

“The play shed is a project that meets a need and was led by Sublimity parent Stacy Hollenbeck, with the work done by Larry Gescher and Josh Smith of HP Civil, Inc. The roof is almost in place and it looks like it will be ready for school start,” he said.

Both Stayton and Cascade High schools are initiating AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a national program whose mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society.

Stayton Middle School students will also participate in the AVID program.

“AVID tries to give students both the vision and skills to pursue avocations after high school,” Cascade High School Principal Matt Thatcher said. “We’re going to start with freshmen.”

Teacher Lisa Iverson will be the community connections specialist for Cascade. Iverson will research businesses and industries that can help students learn about technical and career opportunities following graduation.

Thatcher said a core group of freshmen teachers are ready to help after getting training this summer in college and career readiness.

“AVID at the high school will be a great program that is worth talking about,” Stayton High School Principal Alan Kirby said. “We’ll also be starting our home-building project on Washington Street when school resumes.”

Santiam Canyon School District new programs include a new preschool program to support 3- to 5-year-olds within district boundaries.

Called STAMP (Santiam Teaching Activities by Mail), the grant-funded program supports future students with monthly mailings filled with learning opportunities and activities.

“Each month, a packet is mailed with information for the parents and various items for the students,” said Todd Miller, superintendent for SCSD. “We are focusing on early literacy skills, counting, problem-solving and fine motor skills such as cutting, writing and coloring.

“Our goal with the new program is to form earlier relationships with our families, learn more about our incoming students, and support them to build skills for a successful transition to kindergarten,” he added. “Our district is spread over a large geographic area, and mailing the materials gives us an efficient and sustainable way to support all the young students within our district.”

Additionally, Santiam High School will get a new CTE Industrial Arts program.

“It has been about 20 years since the Santiam Canyon School District has been able to offer industrial arts classes at the high school,” Miller said. “Our new courses will launch this fall and focus on industrial arts trade skills that support high wage and high demand jobs for our students.”

SCSD hired a long-time general contractor from the area, Chris Lindemann, to teach classes and start the new program, Miller said.

“We will be updating all our equipment and renovating our shop space,” Miller said. “We are thrilled to bring this program back. There is a big need in the trades for skilled workers and our students have been wanting classes like this for some time.”

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