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Students, teachers ready to hit the books

Kindergartners at Jackson Park Elementary School participated in a class activity on the first day of school last year. - Photo by Jesse Beals/file photo 2006
Kindergartners at Jackson Park Elementary School participated in a class activity on the first day of school last year.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals/file photo 2006

With leaves slowly being overcome by the colors of fall and nights containing a nip of seasonal change, bright yellow school buses will soon be lumbering around Central Kitsap, marking back to school.

The days of summer are seceding into classes, sports practice, after-school activities and homework. Although students won’t be in the classroom until Wednesday, teachers and administrators have been preparing for the new academic year for more than a week.

“We are off to the best start since I’ve been here,” said Klahowya Secondary School Principal Ryan Stevens. “Everyone is focused on academic performance and student performance. That’s what everyone’s excited about ... there’s a buzz around here.”

One of the overall focuses throughout the district for all schools this year is academic achievement and improvement on Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL).

“This is the Class of 2008 (where students must meet the standard to graduate),” Central Kitsap High School Principal John Cervinsky said, adding that there will be a big focus, along with intervention classes, on students not meeting the standard on WASL. “We always have an emphasis on academic achievement.”

Cervinsky added that CKHS will implement a new tardy policy this year that initiates more parent involvement and communication surrounding student late arrivals.

“It’s been smooth sailing (so far),” he added. “This building runs very well, we have very qualified and great staff.”

At KSS, Stevens said one of their main focuses will be communicating more directly on what students need to do to succeed in school.

“Not doing your homework won’t work this year,” Stevens added.

Although some of the changes might go unnoticed among students and parents, Stevens said the staff and administrators at KSS are working diligently to establish a culture of enhanced student learning.

Stevens said the school is implementing new intervention class academy times at the end of the day allowing students to meet with teachers in classes they are doing poorly in as well as providing enrichment time for Advanced Placement (AP) students.

“The whole theory behind it is 30 minutes for students to be successful because they didn’t do it the first time,” Stevens said, adding that an example would be a student who didn’t complete his homework for a class would utilize the intervention time at the end of the day to meet with that teacher and discuss the assignment parameters. “(The design) is to improve student learning.”

To accommodate for the 30-minute intervention class at the end of the day, all regularly scheduled classes will be four minutes shorter. Stevens added that like similar to previous years, KSS also will implement Eagle After Hours.

Brent Anderson, who is the new principal at Ridgetop Junior High School, said their overall focus for this year surrounds the goal of providing an atmosphere that is conducive to student learning.

“We want to take students where they are at and move them along the learning spectrum,” Anderson said, adding that better parent communication also will be at the top of the list. “We want a warm, welcoming place where they can feel they can come here and push their kids academically so they can achieve (as much as they can).”

Formerly the principal at Brownsville Elementary School, Anderson said he’s looking forward to the new experiences and challenges that this school year will bring along with working with older students.

“This will be a year of watching and learning, what can we do more effectively and what can we do to make the whole system better,” Anderson said. “I just want to let parents know we’re going to take the education of their children very seriously.”

Along with the high schools and junior highs, teachers and administrators in the elementary schools are preparing for the year, a task that differs this year from the others due to the closure of Tracyton and Seabeck. Although many students will be attending new schools this year, Ninette Haynes, principal at Clear Creek Elementary, said students can expect “the same level of love and commitment that they’ve gotten before.”

One of the largest elementary schools in the district, Clear Creek will have five full-day kindergarten classes, all of which are already full. With the new students and staff members that the school closures have brought to Clear Creek, Haynes said, “We’re essentially a new school.”

After getting the staff reading and hosting various open houses, schools across the district are ready for the first week.

Connie Gates, principal at PineCrest Elementary School and former principal at Tracyton, said she looks forward to the new year and the new experiences it will bring.

“I think it’s going to be a great year,” Gates added.

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