Schools flooded with new students as full-day kindergarten implemented

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News

 By Barb McKay

Kincardine and area schools are seeing an influx of new students as full-day kindergarten programs are implemented.

St. Anthony’s School

St. Anthony’s School has registered 50 new junior kindergarten students. Principal Keith Walsh said those students plus senior kindergarteners now make up a quarter of the school’s population, which goes to Grade 8. The school has hired a new teacher, along with two new educational assistants.

“Most schools have declining enrollments and we’re going up,” he said.

In order to accommodate so many new first-time students, St. Anthony’s has refurbished three classrooms to allow for two English kindergarten classes and one French Immersion kindergarten class. One of those rooms is the former literacy room, which has now been added to the school’s library, where new roll out shelves have been installed.

“The construction has been absolutely amazing,” Walsh said.

The school, along with other schools within the Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board, now has wireless Internet. St. Anthony’s was selected for a pilot project for the board which replaced the school’s computer room with iPads. Two carts each containing 25 iPads can be signed out by teachers to be used in their classrooms.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Walsh said. “We’re the first in the board to do that.”

Elgin Market Public School

Big changes are also happening within the Bluewater District School Board. Elgin Market Public School is now entirely French Immersion, with programming for students from junior kindergarten through Grade 6. A total of 180 students are enrolled this school year, nearly 30 of whom are entering the full-day junior kindergarten program.

Construction was completed over the summer to accommodate the influx of new students, including the addition of two change rooms. The library was also reconfigured to better support students and classrooms received a fresh coat of paint.

“We’re going to be a completely different school by the time school is back in,” principal Margaretha Wilson told The Independent last week. “We’ll be designing a new look and feel to Elgin Market. It’s going to be fun.”

Wilson said she and fellow staff are happy to be back.

“I look forward to having the kids back here,” she said. “It makes this place hop.”

Elgin Market welcomes new teachers this year, including Jaime Janes and Paula LeBrasceur, both from Huron Heights Public School, and custodian George McCallum, also from Huron Heights.

KTTPS

Kincardine Township Tiverton Public School (KTTPS) has also undergone construction to accommodate its new full-day kindergarten students. Renovations are complete on new kindergarten classrooms in time to welcome new students who will start school tomorrow.

Huron Heights Public School

Several new staff members will join Huron Height Public School this year. Katherine McFadden, from KTTPS, will take on the role of acting vice principal, replacing Adam Gelmon who has joined Ecole Port Elgin Saugeen Central School. Huron Heights is welcoming Madison Yourth, a new core French teacher from Port Elgin, as well as Grade 5 teacher Lindy Wright, Grade 6 teacher Cindy Black, Grade 7 long-term occasional teacher Kirby Genn and educational assistant Jackie MacLellan. Teacher Neil Gowan is returning to Huron Heights from a paternity leave. Mike Mason is joining the school as head custodian and Carla Arnold is the new evening custodian.

Principal Liz MacPherson said the school hasn’t experienced much in the way of construction over the summer, other than the addition of four new windows. The school is putting a stronger emphasis on the importance of physical activity this year by forming a sports council. Three teachers will head up the council with assistance from students. The council will take a leadership role in the daily physical activity (DPA) time, which will now take place first thing in the morning, and will look to develop other activities.

“Our vision would be that they would take a leadership role for the DPA and also for intramurals,” MacPherson said.

This year, Huron Heights will continue initiatives around the school’s newly developed code of conduct. MacPherson said the school would like to invite in guest speakers early in the school year to give presentations related to points in the code of conduct, such as leadership.

Ripley Huron Community School

Ripley Huron Community School managed to avoid construction projects this year, other than the addition of a new sidewalk around the parking lot, but the school had developed a new theme. “My Own Two Hands” will focus on helping others.

“We will look at ways we can help locally and abroad,” said principal Graham Martin. “When we work together we can accomplish many things.”

Martin said staff will be seeking ideas for students for initiatives.

The Ripley school is also welcoming new staff this year. Vanessa Andrew is transferring from KTTPS to teach Grade 5. Two new educational assistants, Laura Klages and Amanda Walden, have also come on board and Sylvie Tibben is joining the school as office manager.

KDSS

As Kincardine and District Secondary School (KDSS) prepared to welcome students back this week, principal Randall DeKraker said the halls were teeming with excitement.

“It’s an amazing thing the number of people (staff) who say they

still have butterflies on the first day of school,” he said. “It’s really encouraging.”

KDSS will not see the addition of any teachers this year, but staff did say goodbye to Sandy Conrad and Jim Taylor who have retired.

The high school is still under some minor construction, held over from the summer. New energy efficient lighting has been installed in the gymnasium, which turns on automatically when someone enters the gym and turns off when they leave. New flooring is being installed in the gym and is expected to be completed within the next week or so.

“It’s a bit of a nuisance, but we’ll work around it,” DeKraker said.

Yesterday, about 20 Link Crew members, wearing their bright pink t-shirts, orientated new Grade 9 students with the school. The senior students spent the morning helping their younger counterparts find their way around and adjust to their new surroundings.

“When they start school, they will be ready,” DeKraker said. “It’s the biggest new thing in their lives since kindergarten.”

On Sept. 17, KDSS will hold its annual welcome back barbecue, hosted by the home and school association and school council.