BACK TO CLASS!

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School Attendance
The Hermiston School District is putting a renewed emphasis on student attendance.
NEONOW FILE PHOTO

[quote style=”2″]Hermiston School District Expects Record Number of Students[/quote]

Monday marked the beginning of a school year full of growth and change for students, teachers, and families alike in the Hermiston School District.

After school, faculty members at West Park Elementary School hustled to get children to their parents in the parking lot or onto their assigned buses. Emilee Lloyd guided a group of kindergarteners to their bus. Lloyd began her second year of teaching first grade, and said that the first day went well.

“It was busy, kind of crazy, but smooth,” she said. She looks forward to using her experiences from last year – “knowing the ropes more and what to expect. Now I know what we’re shooting for.”

Jamie Lloyd was there to pick up her children, Jack and Natalie Frear. Natalie is in third grade, and Jack is in kindergarten.

“Jack got into full-time kindergarten, so that is nice,” Jamie Lloyd said. “They’re both looking forward to being back with their friends.”

Matthew Masse came to West Park to pick up his friend’s daughter, Missy, who has also started kindergarten.

“She’s looking forward to art, I believe,” said Masse.

This year’s transition from half-time to full-time kindergarten went surprisingly well, according to Amber Kellison, who has taught half-time kindergarten for the past seven years.

“We had lots of help,” she said. “The principal was down at lunch, and so were the assistants, so (the students) did really great. Otherwise, it’s just establishing a routine.”

Kellison looks forward to having her students all day and feels that she will be able to accomplish more in the classroom than she could in previous years.

“Now I can spend more time elaborating. I feel the depth of learning will improve, and that’s exciting.”

At a school board work session Monday evening, during a recap of the start to the new year, HSD Assistant Superintendent Bryn Browning, who had spent time at West Park during the day, reported that the new full-time kindergarteners were “tired, but happy to be there.”

Hermiston School Superintendent Dr. Fred Maiocco said that he had been able to visit all eight Hermiston schools during the day and enjoyed seeing students and their families excited for the new school year.

“(There was) actually instruction taking place in all of our schools,” he said. “Yes, part of instruction is setting the ground rules and setting the expectations, but each classroom was getting into instruction. It was exciting to see all of that.”

Deputy Superintendent Wade Smith addressed the student population’s growth. He told the board there are 5,413 students enrolled.

“That is up 282 students from June of the previous school year,” he said. “We are actually up 126 ‘whites of eyes’ – the number of students who were sitting in desks today compared to our first Monday sitting in desks last year.”

Smith expects that number to drop slightly after the first few weeks, as no-show students are removed from the books; “but I think it’s very safe to say we’re up about 125, if not more.”

He predicts that this will be a record-setting growth year for the district.

“Eighty to 100 new kids every year was kind of what we were continuing to see there until recession time hit. I think as we climb out of the recession, we’ll continue to see that,” Smith said.

In all, administrators and staff agreed that the beginning of the new year was a success.

“(It was) a great first day of school,” said Maiocco, “and we are off to a great start – 172 more to go.”

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