“Today it really showed me the importance of a teacher in a child’s life,” East Rapids Elementary Principal Ryan DeBay commented. “The true importance of that. It was just amazing to see those kiddos light up when their teacher walked in.”
Administrators from the Independent School District (ISD) 318 reflected on the first day of school for the Fall 2020 semester at the ISD 318 School Board meeting on Sept. 8. With two new elementary schools, a largely remodeled Cohasset Elementary School, changes in staffing, and the endless adjustments made regarding COVID-19, the first day of school was bound to be memorable.
“It was energizing and exhausting all at once,” stated Scott Patrow, Principal of Bigfork Schools. “It’s my 33rd first day and it was like it was brand new.”
Patrow acknowledged that although the day wasn’t perfect, he didn’t expect it to be.
“Just about every function of our day had a new twist to it—arrival, morning classes, our lunch, our recess, our afternoon classes, and our dismissal,” Patrow added. “I think it went very well, but that’s not to say there weren’t hiccups. You don’t put in three different learning models and not have a few hiccups.”
Grand Rapids High School (GRHS) held an orientation for freshmen students on Tuesday allowing for students, teachers, and staff to become comfortable with the new school year requirements.
“The planning that this group has done, that our directors have done and our teachers have executed, has been incredible,” said GRHS Principal Matthew Dass. “I have never been a part of something so complex and challenging in my career, and it’s really really validating to see it all come together. It’s really really special.”
Dass added that any issues that arose throughout the first day were minor and not related to COVID-19. Other administrators from the district reflected on how well the first day went despite all of the changes this semester has brought. Superintendent Matt Grose echoed these thoughts.
“It was surprisingly smooth,” Grose commented. “That’s something I’ve heard a lot of people talk about.”
Principals of East Rapids, West Rapids and Cohasset Elementary schools all noted how excited the students were to see their new schools.
“Students were so excited to see our brand new building,” stated Jill Wheelock, Cohasset Elementary School Principal.
Principals of ISD 318 all thanked the many people it took to organize this new school year. Groups that were acknowledged include the school board, teachers, staff, transportation staff, technology staff, special services staff, ESP staff, food services staff, custodial staff and many more.
“You can’t see the mouth, but you can see the eyes, and when they are just half-open because they’re smiling because they are back in the building was really exciting,” said Principal of Robert J. Ellington Middle School Daniel Adams.
In other business, board members took action on the following items:
• Approved the minutes of the August 10, 2020 school board workshop.
• Approved the minutes of the August 17, 2020 school board meeting.
• Approved the minutes of the August 27, 2020 special school board meeting.
• Approved a resolution to accept donations and gifts for April ($4,124.50), May ($11,224.50), June ($465,410.02) 2020.
• Approved permission to add temporary 0.2 FTE temporary social studies teaching support at Robert J. Elkington Middle School.
• Approved varsity head coach fall annual contracts for 2020-21.
• Approved a public hearing date, time and location for the proposed closing of Forest Lake Elementary School. The public hearing will be held October 19, 2020 at 6 p.m. with board action to follow at the regular school board meeting at 7 p.m.
• Approved a lease agreement with Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids/Greenway for space at Murphy Elementary.
School board members approved the meeting’s consent agenda including the following staffing changes: Janet Bennett, Food & Nutrition resignation; Katie Cody, Physical Education Teacher replacement hire; Elisa Cortes, ESP replacement hire; Jennifer Dulong, Physical Education Teacher replacement hire; Anthony Gerster, Bus Driver resignation; M’kayla Guertin, Teacher hire; James Hagen, Bus Driver replacement hire; Greg Hagy, Bus Driver replacement hire; Bruce Hansen, Bus Driver replacement hire; Michelle Hill, Food & Nutrition replacement hire; Trudy Madoll, Food & Nutrition replacement hire; Robert Marble, Bus Driver replacement hire; Timothy Palkki, Bus Driver replacement hire; Meg Rahn, Junior High Volleyball Coach replacement hire; Emma Rauzi, ESP replacement hire; April Theisen, Food & Nutrition replacement hire; Lori VanZinderen, Teacher retirement.