School district's numbers up


Classes started Tuesday for the Haines Borough School District, with an enrollment of about 263 students, 10 more than were projected last year, including eight more in the high school.

“We’re a little above projections, but people are still coming and going,” said Lori Giddings, elementary school secretary.

Enrollment of only nine students at Mosquito Lake School is a concern, as 10 are required to secure full state funding, superintendent Michael Byer said this week. Enrollment figures to be compiled in October will be used to determine state funding levels.

On Tuesday morning, first-grade teacher Sophia Armstrong was helping her students learn the Pledge of Allegiance, and in the high school, English teacher Rene Martin was reviewing the district’s student behavior expectations for students, condensed into four words: respect, responsible, safe and prepared.

In the middle school wing, paraprofessional Rachelle Galinski was teaching sixth-graders how to operate combination locks on lockers. “It’s always a first-day nightmare,” Galinski said. “Sometimes it goes all week. Actually, I was down in the high school, helping freshmen with their lockers, so I guess it goes on for years.”

Literacy was the buzzword in the halls this week, a big emphasis for the district for the coming year. The letters of the alphabet are posted in the elementary school gym, where physical education teacher Lexi DeWitt will incorporate reading into her classes. Also, longtime teacher and literacy specialist Jeanne Kitayama will return to the district with a teacher-mentoring program in elementary classrooms.

The school district has shifted Kitayama’s work from projects with local preschools and parent education services.

Principal Cheryl Stickler said student writing will be a particular focus. “We’re working together this year to implement writing workshops and reading workshops. Classroom lessons will be stressing individual choice of what to read and write and working with students at their individual levels. Also, integrating writing across content levels, such as, ‘What does writing look like in math and science?’”

High school teacher Martin said reading nonfiction will be the focus for college-bound students. This semester, students will be reading “Skeletons on the Sahara,” a survival saga from the 1800s. In writing, students will learn to research using primary sources, such as letters, journals and government documents.Freshmen will be reading the novel “Lord of the Flies.”

Student activities will start in September. Haines will host a local cross-country meet Sept. 7 and a Drama, Debate and Forensics meet Sept. 21. Both programs have new leadership. Amanda Stossel, a former KHNS reporter, will lead the DDF team. Resident Tara Bicknell is coaching cross-country. To serve as a volunteer at either meet, contact the school.


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