Principals look toward the new yearA new school year is just around the corner. Open houses for Minnehaha Elementary, Two Harbors High School and the William Kelley School in Silver Bay will be held next week, with activities planned to acquaint students and parents with teachers, principals and a range of community resources. The Two Harbors High School open house is slated for the evening of Aug. 28 from 5:30-7 p.m. Principal Brett Archer said the event is open to all — students, parents and community members.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
A new school year is just around the corner. Open houses for Minnehaha Elementary, Two Harbors High School and the William Kelley School in Silver Bay will be held next week, with activities planned to acquaint students and parents with teachers, principals and a range of community resources.
The Two Harbors High School open house is slated for the evening of Aug. 28 from 5:30-7 p.m. Principal Brett Archer said the event is open to all — students, parents and community members.
“It’s more of a community fair,” he said. Organizations from throughout the community will be on hand with information about youth programs and activities.
Archer said 640 students are enrolled at THHS and this year he’s looking forward to finding new ways to engage students, especially middle schoolers. He and Assistant Principal, Jay Belcastro will be teaching a middle school class and exploring more active learning opportunities for students.
“We tend to lose some kids in middle school. There are so many things that compete for their time. We’ll be looking for ways to get teachers, students and the whole school community involved,” he said enthusiastically. Assistant Principal Jay Belcastro weighed in by posing the question they’ll try to answer:
“How do we engage everyone so this is the place (students) choose to be, not the place they have to be? It may be a paradigm shift.”
“School should be interesting,” added Archer,” there are concepts and models out there that work with kids. We’re going to look at those.”
THHS will welcome several new teachers this year. Amy Tokvam who taught at Kelley last year, will be teaching English. One more English teacher will be hired, as well. Kyle Shalupsky will teach industrial arts. He’s coming from Cromwell to fill the open position left by Rick Coughlin.
“We’re very excited to have Kyle here. He’s going to be a good fit,” Archer said.
Kelley School will be hosting its event for parents and students on Sept. 10 from 5:30- 7 p.m.
“We’re looking to put on a barbecue,” said Principal Joe Nicklay. “We got hot dogs donated by Upper Lakes Foods and we’re working on the rest of the menu. It’s always good for kids to come and meet their new teachers and parents to meet staff.”
Current enrollment at Kelley school is 365 kindergarten- 12th grade students and this year an uptick in younger students has necessitated the addition of a second kindergarten class. There will also be two new teachers this year — Katie Fritz will be teaching high school English and Karen Vance will be in the special education classroom.
Nicklay, like Archer and Belcastro, said he’s also focused on improving student engagement among seventh and eigth graders in particular, when kids can feel a little lost.
“They’re not in elementary school and their not in high school, so we want them to really feel a part of things— to make them feel really involved in school,” he said.
The Minnehaha open house will be Aug.29 from 5:30- 7 p.m. for its 399 students and their families. To introduce students to the school building and teachers, children will be given a special passport and a list of stations to visit — the office, gym, cafeteria, library and their own classrooms. They’ll receive a stamp in their passports for each station visited; a fully stamped passport earns the bearer an ice cream treat, said Principal Pat Driscoll.
Local organizations will also have tables with information about their programs. Parents, guardians and kids can visit the folks from Just Kids Dental, Rotary and the Two Harbors Federal Credit Union.
The Minnehaha will have some additions to its staff this year. Barb Cavallin will teach first grade, Deb Alseth has moved to second grade and Cassie Jeska has the fourth grade classroom. Matt Spearman will teach Special Education and Angie Zahn will teach early childhood special education, with Nicole Johnson in birth to age three education. Melissa Ellis will be the part-time Title One teacher and visitors to the office will meet Jeni Lohring, the new school secretary.
Driscoll said the ongoing focus at her school this year will be on maintaining a positive school climate —”being a responsible, respectful and safe environment for everyone.” The school recently received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education to implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports —”capacity-building information and technical assistance for identifying, adapting, and sustaining effective school-wide disciplinary practices,” according to the PBIS website. The Minnehaha is among the ninth cohort of schools that have participated in the program, which was developed by the U.S. Department of Education.
“It started with the climate committee looking at resources; they saw the grant and decided to go for it,” said Driscoll, adding that she was pleased to learn that the school had already been doing some of the things recommended by PBIS.
Volunteers are welcome at all of the district’s schools. Parents, grandparents and community members may call or sign up in the offices in each building. Community organizations that would like to participate in the community fair open house at THHS may call or email the community education office. Visit the districts website for news and information at http://www.isd381.k12.mn.us/ or call the schools directly.
Minnehaha Elementary School 218-834-8221
William Kelley School 218-226-4437
Two Harbors High School 218-834-8201