New school year holds great promise for Vermillion students and staff

New school year holds great promise for Vermillion students and staff As Vermillion Students and Staff anticipate the new school year, there is great promise for a fresh start for everyone.

While returning students anticipate their new classes, students new to the school district are also anticipating making new friends. Families are preparing for the new year by making sure the supply lists are filled and back-to-school clothes are purchased. Students and staff head back to class for the new school year at Vermillion on Aug. 25.

To open the new school year, teachers will be involved in two full days of in-service training that is coordinated by Dr. Liz Hogen, director of instruction. The elementary staff will be participating in a workshop entitled "Thinking Strategies for Mastering Math." The middle and high school staff will be participating in a workshop titled "Eliciting Student's Best Work and Increasing Achievement."

Another full day of in-service is scheduled for Sept. 15 and is a follow-up to last year's training on implementing research-proven instructional strategies and assessment methods.

Superintendent Mark Froke assumes the leadership post for the district. Dr. Froke is aware of the long standing tradition of quality and high standards of the Vermillion School District. He plans to move the district forward with a focus on achievement, communication, and efficiency.

Everyone associated with the school district including students, parents, school personnel, and community members are all key to increasing student achievement. When all these individuals come together in support of the student, the result will be a quality educational and activity program.

To set the stage for communication, Dr. Froke has been interviewing staff members regarding their views on the strengths and areas of improvement in the school district.

As new students and families are welcomed, the school district also welcomes new teachers. These new teachers are Lenni Billberg, high school social studies; Karinda deBoom, middle school art; Gerald Evans, high school industrial arts; and Karen Lynch, eight-grade science teacher. A variety of new assignments have been assumed by current staff members in their certified areas as a measure of efficiency in the district.

Everyone is encouraged to reference the school district Web site at www.vermillion for school district information. There is a wide variety of information presented on the Web site to keep the community up-to-date on school district programs and activities. This site provides various school news items, the district master calendar, policies, handbooks, and DDN campus, which is the student management system.

The school district technology system has been upgraded through capital outlay budget acquisitions. Computers are being replaced in labs at the middle and high schools. In addition, each school will be equipped with at least one new projection unit and a laptop on a cart will be available for instruction in individual classrooms.

The No Child Left Behind Law and South Dakota Content Standards play a major role in establishing the direction of the school district. Teachers throughout the school system have aligned their curriculum to meet state standards in all subject areas. Teaching reading and math now receive top priority in all buildings. The teachers and administrators will be working on plans to continually improve learning opportunities in these core areas.

The Vermillion special education program continues to address individual student learning needs within the guidelines of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. As the 2004-2005 school year approaches, the program remains responsible for child find, referrals, evaluation, and placement procedures in striving to meet individual goals in cooperation with the students and parents.

All elementary classroom teachers will be trained in Guided Reading by the end of the 2004-2005 school year. Guided Reading allows students to progress at their reading level under the guidance of their classroom teacher. In addition, the elementary schools have innovative programs giving students extra help in reading and math. Each building has a 30-minute period when students are divided into groups of fifteen or less and given an opportunity to advance their academic skills. University of South Dakota students work with our schools in a variety of ways. For example, an after school tutoring group operates at Austin Elementary in cooperation with USD School of Education.

The middle school is continuing with math ability grouping for the new school year. Our math scores have shown improvement this last year and there will continue to be a focus on staff development, mastery of math facts and innovative strategies. Middle school student reading scores continue to be very good with over 80 percent of the students scoring in the proficient and advanced range. Even though some elective courses have been cut from the curriculum, middle school students have a selection of technology, art, Spanish, music, health, and consumer science courses.

The Vermillion High School staff and administration are anxious for the 2004-05 school year to begin. Two new signs have been placed in front of the high school including a "welcome" sign that was sponsored by the class of 1984 and a "buckle your seat belt" reminder sign from the Seat Belt Safety Committee that is advised by Karol Broderson.

High School Dean of Students Jason Huska will be implementing a freshman mentoring program. The program pairs upper classmen with incoming freshmen students to reduce the stress and anxiety some students experience in their transition to the high school. In addition, Shari Kolbeck and Carisa Dobrinski are making arrangements to assist students moving into the high school from other school districts. They will be having a new student luncheon and pairing up the new students with peer mentors.

Coaches of the Tanager athletic program are also looking forward to the upcoming season. The boys' golf team opened the new year at West Central on Aug. 17 and the girls' tennis team opens on Aug. 21 at Yankton. The boys' and girls' cross country teams open at Madison on Aug. 27 and the girls' volleyball team will start their new year on the road at Lennox on Aug. 31. The football team will begin their campaign on Sept. 3 at home against South Sioux City, NE.

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