Back to School

School starts on September 3 for District 9 students, an event greeted with smiles and groans, trepidation and eagerness. Parents and students can be seen across the valley shopping for new clothes and school supplies. For online supply lists, go to the user-friendly district website, then click on the individual school. Most stores also post lists school-by-school. Free and reduced meal information is online, as is registration information and schedules. Bus routes remain the same as last year, but for new students and anyone wanting to verify a route, check the transportation website for information.

Administration and staff have long been preparing for the upcoming 2013-14 school year. Teachers are enjoying their last few days of vacation, although many do prep and planning throughout the summer. Sports practices are well under way, and according to a member of the Eagle Point Boosters Club, the field is ready and the track will be in a couple of weeks. The Boosters are putting the finishing touches on the donor wall and plan to spend the upcoming school year seeking new members and raising money for scholarships and extra curricular activities.

At the high school, an almost palpable energy electrified the air. As Paul Cataldo takes the helm as principal, he speaks of working closely with his assistant. The idea of teamwork can be seen throughout the district, at all levels. He pointed to a large-screen mounted on one wall, a tool that allows him to conduct teacher interviews via Skype, to “attend” meetings and to view presentations. He continues to hire new teachers, with about 20 confirmed hires so far. As we chatted, someone mentioned a nervous, new student waiting in the outer office. He excused himself to say hello and personally welcome her.

Blackboards are a thing of the past, and whiteboards aren’t far behind. Many schools now have electronic interactive boards that allow real-time presentations and the manipulation of information. Today’s classroom technology, including individual student Ipads (think slates from pioneer days, but electronic), might elicit this comment from the older person—“Unbelievable.”

Students will return to several new-and-improved situations: roofing, air conditioning, the spiffing up of many sites, and enhanced safety features. Many new teachers await their students. A major change is the grading system. A-F grades will no longer be used. Students now have to meet Common Core Standards, a program used in many states across the country. No need to worry there, for the district will make certain parents and students receive information. And as always, teachers, principals and district administration are open to questions and discussion.

What Principal Cataldo said relates to students from kindergarteners to high school seniors, and could well be said by any principal, teacher or staff member in the district: “We’ll have a great year, and we’re going to learn a lot. We are focused on student success.” Simple words, yes, but when backed by commitment, enthusiasm and hard work, those words will have powerful impact and predict a wonderful year ahead.

By Lynn Leissler

For the Independent



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