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Sunnyside schools set plans, goals for 2006-07

Change was the constant reflected in eight presentations to the Sunnyside School Board yesterday.

Representatives from each of the eight schools in the Sunnyside School District appeared yesterday morning before the school board to present their plans and goals for the 2006-07 school year.

Each principal had 30 minutes to present their plans for improving their respective schools during the meeting, which was held in the Denny Blaine board room.

Pioneer, Washington and Outlook elementary schools will add fifth grade students this year; Chief Kamiakin Elementary moves from a fifth/sixth grade format to a kindergarten through fifth grade set-up this year.

Everything is new at Sierra Vista Middle School, which will see construction come to an end just in time to open its doors to students for the first time on Sept. 5.

Harrison Middle School too will see a change ahead, as like Sierra Vista it will welcome the addition of sixth grade students.

Harrison Assistant Principal Doug Kaplicky also asked for support from the district and the high school as a ninth grade learning program will be held on the Harrison campus.

That leads to a change planned for the high school level, as freshmen will be guided into a program to help them make the transition from middle school to high school.

But the changes and improvements planned for 2006-07 go further than re-arranging student enrollment.

Pioneer Principal Kris Diddens plans to use a sticker program to provide more positive reinforcement of students exhibiting good behavior. As students collect stickers, they will be able to use them for special treats like a trip to the city swimming pool. Fitness will be encouraged by having students walk one lap before playground activities. Extra laps can earn students reward stickers.

A renewed focus on fitness is also planned for Outlook, according to Principal Robert Bowman. He said he would like to see students reach the state minimum of 100 minutes of physical education per week.

He also said he plans to be visible in the school's hallways and noted that Outlook's budgeting will be tightened so the school can "finish in the black" at the conclusion of the 2006-07 year.

Washington Elementary will place a priority on parent involvement and staff collaboration, said Principal Gwyn Trull. "I see a need to do that in grade level grouping," she said.

In regards to staffing, Trull said this is the first time she has not had any brand new teachers. She added there has been a slow response so far for applicants to teach in Washington's pre-school program.

Chief Kamiakin Principal Julie Schmick introduced new Assistant Principal Tavis Peterson, who was hired just this past Friday.

Schmick said one of the plans for this year is to allow time for teachers in the same grade level to collaborate.

She said the school's biggest need is a visit from district administrators and school board members to see Chief Kamiakin's classrooms in action. "That's where the heart of the matter is," Schmick said.

Sierra Vista Principal Doug Rogers said construction is nearing conclusion on the eighth grade wing of the new school. "We have 671 kids coming whether we're ready or not," he said of the first day of school on Sept. 5.

He said there have been staff planning meetings throughout the summer in anticipation of the school's opening.

There was also a discussion yesterday about a possible dedication this October to celebrate the new school.

Harrison Middle School's plans for the year include looking at the possibility of seeking tips on success from business leaders in the Sunnyside community, said Principal Janie Hernandez.

In addition to seeking support for the ninth grade program on the Harrison campus, as noted earlier, Assistant Principal Doug Kaplicky asked the school board to consider how committed the district is to instructional leadership versus discipline management.

PRIDE High School Principal Gary Babcock praised school staff for "moving away from some of the sheltering aspects" in teaching PRIDE students, who often face challenges in completing their high school course work.

That change in outlook, he said, has helped lead to increases in reading and writing scores.

Besides a program emphasis for freshmen, Sunnyside High School is planning a renewed commitment to adult mentoring of students, noted Principal Brian Hart. He explained that each teacher will be assigned to weekly meetings with a group of 20 students. The sessions will have curriculum provided, Hart said, and the program's goal is to provide each student with an adult mentor they can be accountable to during the school year.

Each school administrator also briefly addressed a first draft of standard test scores that were recently released.

Final copies of all the scores, including the WASL, are scheduled for public release in early September, according to Lori Froese, the district's assessment coordinator.

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