Area schools ready for start of year

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 28, 2000

As the school bell rings in the beginning of a new school year, area students will notice differences both inside the classroom and out.

Monday, August 28, 2000

As the school bell rings in the beginning of a new school year, area students will notice differences both inside the classroom and out. Many of the schools have undergone facelifts over the summer, starting fresh for the new school year.

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Here’s a look at what’s new at area schools and who’s new on school staffs:


Austin High School

WHAT’S NEW: Administrative assistant Keith Fleming said that a number of improvements were completed over the summer and several new teachers also were hired.

The annex auditorium received a facelift and the Bank Day Treatment program was moved into the old agriculture area. The agriculture area then was moved to the basement of the annex.

A new security system also was installed.

The system, started several years ago, consists of about a dozen cameras, all linked to the liaison office.

Perhaps the biggest difference at AHS is new Principal Joe Brown, who began in July.

Brown spent last year in Chicago and was employed by the Le Sueur district a few years ago.

WHO’S NEW: Mark Anderson-special education; Rebecca Blake-math; Barry Brobeck-art; Dewey Hagen-social studies; Jamie Lief-part-time English as a Second Language; Diane Lillemon-science; Colleen Owens-world language; Christie Shook-agriculture and part-time ESL; Michael Stutz and Todd Waterbury-science.

Ellis Middle School

WHAT’S NEW: A major renovation at Ellis this summer was replacing the flooring in the commons area.

For the past 12 years, according to Principal Jeanne McDermott, the hallways have been carpeted; the school has just begun a two- to three-year phase in which they’ll replace all the hallways with tile.

McDermott said the project already is having a positive effect on the school.

"It brightens it up immensely and makes it a more cheerful place," she said.

McDermott also said that they’re hoping to replace two more hallways with tile next year.

The maintenance and replacement of carpet has been very difficult, especially during registration this year; because they had to work around the contractor’s schedule, things got delayed.

McDermott apologizes for any inconvenience the renovation may have caused students or faculty, but stated that students are now free to come to school to get their locks and find their classes.

Upon returning to classes, students will notice a new bank of lockers, too. Because of recent increases in enrollment, Ellis installed 23 lockers in the eighth-grade hall.

Finally, the baseball diamond will be moved to facilitate more room for soccer and football fields.

School hours also have changed; students will begin at 7:55 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m.

WHO’S NEW: Jennifer Gosha-educational resource program; Sarah Ihrke-physical education; Nancy Jones-eighth-grade earth science; Mary Lynn Knoebel-family consumer science (home economics); Jeff Schei-choir; Brian Schoen-special education; and Eric Vaughn-seventh-grade social studies.

Also, Pat Engelhardt will become the full-time nurse at Ellis. McDermott explained that in the past, they shared a nurse with the high school, but Engelhardt will be at Ellis 32 hours a week.

During this time she will handle, among other typical duties, recordkeeping and administration of medication.

Banfield Elementary School

WHAT’S NEW: Principal Candice Raskin said there is a new program for kindergarten students called Transition First Grade. In this program, Raskin explains, 12 students will be in a classroom setting and exposed to a variety of instructional approaches.

This is mainly because of their learning styles.

"Many students (upon completing kindergarten) have learning gaps," Raskin said. "By intensifying with the staff and curriculum, we’re hoping they’ll strengthen."

Raskin said it’s been a concern for many years; older programs weren’t doing what they wanted to the proper extent.

"It’s not that they’re (the children) not bright enough, it’s that they don’t sit still long enough," Raskin said.

This new program, being piloted at Banfield and Nevlen schools, is simply another classroom setting with the students taking sort of a half-step; depending on how well they do, they could be promoted to second grade.

"It’s just really exciting," Raskin said.

There is also a new 30-station PC lab for grades 3-5.

WHO’S NEW: Kim Richardson, a new fourth-grade teacher, will come from Southgate; Janie Gibson, who comes from the high school, will teach second grade; Steve Bamrick-physical education; Jan Mizikwill-part-time music; Bonnie Erickson-speech and language; and Deborah Kenyon-special education.

Southgate Elementary School

WHAT’S NEW: Principal Mary Giese said that plans for this year focus on having a good school for the kids.

"We’re excited to have everyone back and are looking forward to a productive year," Giese said.

Over the summer, Southgate received a new conference room; it was converted from an old storage room.

The lounge and staff area also was reorganized, with new paint jobs in several areas of the building.

Several classrooms were recarpeted and a water leak was fixed in the kindergarten.

"We’ve been busy," Giese said.

WHO’S NEW: Kelly Klaverkamp-physical education, and Joanne Larson-special education.

Sumner Elementary School

WHAT’S NEW: While there were not any broad-based improvements completed, several new teachers will enter Sumner this fall, according to Principal Dan Hovland.

WHO’S NEW: Diana Hoffman, coming from Arizona, will teach ESL; Theresa Royce-second grade; Barb Hunter-special education; Julie Loveland-kindergarten and extended-day kindergarten; Julie Oakland-full-time fourth grade; and Jackie Porter-full-time art.

Nevlen Elementary School

WHAT’S NEW: Sheri Allen resigned as principal as of Aug. 14.

Sheriff’s Ranch School

WHAT’S NEW: Secretary Roberta Finneseth said that the ranch decides whether any repairs or improvements need to be completed because they own the building.

Finneseth did say that a new roof was added last year.

The school, which is public, focuses on students from the Sheriff’s Youth Programs.

Pacelli High School

WHAT’S NEW: Information was not available from the school.

Queen of Angels School

WHAT’S NEW: Information was not available from the school.


Blooming Prairie

WHAT’S NEW: Schools Superintendent Irving Peterson said that both the high school and elementary schools were wired for Internet access with computers placed on teachers’ desks.

WHO’S NEW: Lia Peterson-first grade; Nathan Pillar-high school art; Mark Roelfsmat-high school agriculture; Peter Jacobson-high school English; Kathy Pillar-part-time high school special education; and Brian Doll-high school science.

Grand Meadow

WHAT’S NEW: Superintendent Bruce Klaehn said that a new computer lab was added in the middle school to replace older models. At the high school, two sets of new bleachers are being installed on the football field. The reason for the purchase is a new law in which the margins of separation must be a certain width, mainly to protect children from injuries.

Klaehn said they’re gearing much of their attention toward the completion of the new K-12 school in the fall of 2002.

WHO’S NEW: David Stadum, K-12 principal; Donald Sparks-high school guidance counselor; Jan Kaberlein-high school speech therapist; Bob Storlie and Tony Brack-science; and high school vocational agriculture-Roger Dvergsten.

Hayfield Schools

WHAT’S NEW: As of Sept. 1, there is no principal at the elementary school; Bob Olson resigned to take an assistant principal position in Owatonna.

WHO’S NEW: Sara Gillette-first grade; Chris Streightiff-second grade; Annette Freiheit-sixth grade; Jackie Donahoe-SAC; and Liz Carlson-music; Debbra Marcotte-high school principal; Roger Larson and Matt Wallen-high school special education; Dorien Grav-high school business education; Anne Christopherson and Steve Grinell-high school science; Randy Muske, Christopher Pack and Jenny Scott-high school math; and Terri Sather-high school Spanish; Karla Anderson-high school administrative assistant.

Hayfield Schools-Brownsdale Elementary School

WHAT’S NEW: With a new media center and computer room completed a year and a half ago, office manager Eileen O’Connor said there hasn’t been a need to update anything else. Like Hayfield, the school also will be without a principal with Bob Olson relocating to Owatonna.

WHO’S NEW: Christy Halsey-part-time kindergarten; Abbie-Jo Wilcox-music; Cheryl Hatten-teaching assistant.

Leroy-Ostrander Schools

WHAT’S NEW: Judy Orum, secretary at LeRoy-Ostrander, said that the major project this summer was purchasing a number of computers for the media center.

WHO’S NEW: New faculty at the high school are Principal Alan Hanson; James Parlin-social studies; Carla Wehner-Spanish at LeRoy-Ostrander and Lyle. The new superintendent and elementary school principal is Arnold Prince.


WHAT’S NEW: Principal Tom Hebert said that because the structure of the school is so old (it was built in 1914), it’s tough to do any repairs.

There have been several changes in school operation for fall, however.

One new concept is multi-age classrooms.

Hebert explained that all grades will be broken down into three groups: K-2 and 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. During this time, the older students can help the younger ones, as they’ll all be in the same homeroom. There is also common planning time among the instructors; they’ll meet twice a week to plan what to teach to the students. Instructional time also will help, as it will allow teachers a bit more leeway if they have students who learn on different grade levels.

This is true of grades 6-8 as well; however, they also have time set aside for hands-on student activities.

Perhaps the biggest change is with the high school students. This fall marks the first year they’ll be exposed to block scheduling.

Hebert explained that in this process, students will have four "periods" a day, each period being 89 minutes long.

Grades and credit for the course also will be issued to students at the end of each quarter, putting an end to the drawn-out grade process.

With this, students no longer will have study halls and there will be more student-oriented and centered learning – three activities are planned for each period.

Hebert said this will improve performances of all students, as it encourages teachers to teach what’s important, with more time ensured for learning and homework.

A new preschool program also will start on the first day of school for children within two years of entering kindergarten; children will meet from 8:45 to 10:45 a.m. each day throughout the school year.

Hebert said the reason for adding the program was to improve the system; he wanted to get it as a school program to provide more opportunities for individuals.

Hebert said he’s real excited about adding this program, which will cost $35 a month.

Students will be bused to Lyle schools in the morning and dropped off at the end of the day at designated location; Austin is one of the communities where interest has been voiced.

WHO’S NEW: Tamera O’Connor-fourth grade; Karla Wehner-K-12 art; Andrew Dyer-High school Spanish; and Ann Dieterich-high school science.

Southland Schools

WHAT’S NEW: Larry Croker, principal of Southland High School, said that a new parking lot is being constructed at the high school and an additional computer lab is in full operation at the middle school.

WHO’S NEW: Steven Voshell-elementary principal, taking over for Peter Grover, who retired in Rose Creek. At the middle school, Lisha Hindt will teach math; Slone Suesslanguage arts; and Donna Nybo-middle and high school art. Southland High School will also receive a number of new teachers: Jodi Bromeland will be the new counselor; Jenni Brumm-part-time math; Bob Sheehan-athletic director and business education; Priscella Olson-Spanish; Joseph Malherek-Learning Disabilities specialist; Michelle Soukup-Speech Pathologist; and Diana Brower-occupational therapist.

St. Ansgar, Iowa

WHAT’S NEW: Rob Mueller, principal of St. Ansgar Elementary School, said that the school recently completed an $11,000 playground project; Mueller called the structure beautiful.

A networked computer lab and a reading program for students in grades K-5 wrap up their summer projects.

"We did some really good things," Mueller said.

Dwight Widen, superintendent of St. Ansgar schools, said that the new lab, catering to kindergarten through grade four, will provide reading, math, writing and problem solving instruction.

Mueller is quite pleased with all that’s happened this summer.

"We’re very proud of our school," he said. "We’ve got good kids and staff."

Because they’re basically in a new school, St. Ansgar Middle School Principal Carol Burton said there was no need for new equipment or improvements this summer.

Burton did say, however, that they are starting the DARE – Drug Abuse Resistance Education – program in sixth grade as well as implementing new reading and language arts programs.

This comes after a 2.5-year study during which time new reading and writing materials were purchased and staff was trained on new procedures.

WHO’S NEW: Jennifer Byers-kindergarten, and Stacy Klaas-kindergarten through fifth grade music; Debora Powers-middle school seventh- and eighth-grade language arts; Connie Jenkins-middle school sixth-eighth grade science, social studies and technology; and Chris May-reading instructor; Rick Jacobsen-high school agriculture, vocational agriculture and FFA; Keely Mulford-Math; and Devin Schwiesow-Science.