School District 509-J principals commented on class sizes and what they were looking forward to in the coming year at the Sept. 10, 509-J Board of Directors meeting.
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At Jefferson County Middle School, the success of a new Sixth Grade Mingle night, held the week before school started, was felt. Some 135 sixth-graders attended the night, which introduced them to the building and helped take away first day of school jitters.
"We had 192 sixth-graders at lunch today," said Principal Simon White, who will stress continuity of programs this year.
Assistant Principal Diane Dominiack said she enjoyed, "the excitement of the sixth graders. They were so polite, not hitting or shoving. We're all starting to do the same thing at the elementaries, so kudos to the other teachers."
Warm Springs Principal Dawn Smith said, "Everyone in the building was really pumped," and that they would be "building on the growth of the last two years."
Metolius Principal Craig Morgan said he was, "looking forward to building on the successes of our reading, writing and math programs this year."
Metolius class sizes ranged from 19 to 27 in the second grade, and are projected at around 25 for kindergarteners. Kindergarten starts next week.
At Buff Intermediate School, Principal Rosalynn Jaeger said they had 312 third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders on the first day.
She will be working on communication and school climate this year. "I want to help staff just continue to love kids, and think if they were their kids, how would they treat them?" she said.
"We're a focus school for the next four years," Jaeger noted, referring to the designation which will provide extra help from the state to raise student achievement.
New Madras Primary Principal Gary Carlton, who was at the high school level before, got some chuckles with his comments on the first day of school.
"Having kids crying for their parents was a little different experience. They don't do that at the high school," Carlton said.
He said the second grade had three rooms with 30 students and one with 29, and kindergarten was projected to have an average of 27 students.
At Madras High School, Principal Sarah Braman-Smith is looking forward to hosting a Challenge Day at the fairgrounds in September, with 25 volunteers from the community participating.
The Challenge Day program addresses some common issues seen at most schools including cliques, gossip, rumors, negative judgments, teasing, harassment, isolation, stereotypes, intolerance, racism, sexism, bullying, violence, homophobia, hopelessness, apathy, and hidden pressures to create an image, achieve or live up to the expectations of others.
MHS staff will also be planning for the next steps to take after the School Improvement Grant runs out this year.
Of class sizes, Superintendent Rick Molitor said the district will wait for enrollment to stabilize, then make adjustments as needed, which could include adding or moving teachers.
Board member Brad Holliday told the administrative team he was glad to see fewer new hires this year.
"When I first came on the board, there was a lot of teacher turnover. This year, there were 24, which is better. I think that's a reflection on the district, that people feel comfortable here, and I appreciate the work put into that. It helps to have stability," Holliday said.