by nathan oster
Returning students will find that much has changed during the summer in Big Horn County School District No. 3. The first day of classes in the district’s three buildings is Tuesday, Aug. 21, and one change that students will notice immediately is an earlier start time.
At the high school and the middle school, the school day will now begin at 7:55 a.m., five minutes earlier than last year. The elementary bells have all been moved up five minutes as well, with breakfast starting at 7:40, first bell at 8 a.m., the second bell at 8:10 a.m. and everyone in the classrooms at 8:15 a.m.
In some cases, the buildings and grounds have changed.
“We had a busy summer,” said Joe Forcella, the district’s maintenance supervisor.
The list of improvement projects on his to-do list was a long one.
Some, such as the addition of a new security door at the high school and the remodeling of the central office/bus barn, will stretch into the school year. In the case of the bus barn project, that’s largely due to delays in the arrival of materials.
On other fronts, GHS got new carpeting in the hallways, in the office and in the library. It was the first change-out since the building was constructed, Forcella said. New carpeting for the classroom will be phased in over the next several years.
Elsewhere, new lighting was added to the Buff Gym/GMS parking lot, the elementary school got a boiler that will provide supplemental heat during the coldest of winter days and parking lots were re-sealed.
New interior locks were installed at the high school and in the Quigg Building. The middle and elementary schools will get them next, followed by the gyms. And lastly, Forcella said a new control system for the heating and cooling of Buff Gym was installed.
Student who attend Greybull Middle School will have a new principal in Scott McBride, who last year was the district’s instructional facilitator. Other new staff members at the building include Cynthia Weed, a special education teacher, and Michael Jaycox, who is the district’s new secondary music teacher (also working at the high school).
In addition, Cheryl Hunt has moved over from the elementary and is the building’s new reading specialist. Also making the move from GES to GMS this year will be Linda Noyes and Diana Stephens, who will serve as special education paraprofessionals.
As for the 7:55 start time, McBride said school days were lengthened in large part to carve out time on the schedule for students who need additional help in the areas of mathematics and reading.
Over at GHS, there is also a new principal in place, as Ty Flock took over for Barry Bryant, who was hired to be the superintendent. GHS is also welcoming Julie Oster (Resource Room/Special Services), Justin Bernhardt (head football coach) and Jaycox (the new secondary music teacher).
The building has announced changes to its parking designations. Student will no longer be allowed to park their vehicles in the lot between the high school and the Quigg Building; those spots are now reserved for staff and school visitors.
First bell at GHS will be at 7:50, with classes each day starting at 7:55 a.m. and ending (at least for those who have a ‘C’ or better in all their classes) at 3:07 p.m. Students who need to stay for Buff Time must remain until 3:30 p.m.
In other start-of-school-year news, GHS is planning a Meet Your Teacher Night for Tuesday, Aug. 21 from 7 to 8 p.m. Parents are invited to stop by the school for some homemade cookies and to meet their students’ teachers. Parents are also invited to the fall sports meetings that same night, with the volleyball coaches holding their gathering at 5:45 p.m., the football coaches at 6:30 p.m.
Freshman orientation is set for Monday, Aug. 20 starting at 6 p.m. in the auditorium.
The elementary school is the only building with a returning administrator, with Brenda Jinks back in her now familiar principal’s position. She, however, has the most new staff members stepping into new roles.
Kallie Young, fresh out the University of Wyoming, is the new junior kindergarten teacher.
There are no changes in the first and second grade classrooms, but in the third grade, Lisa Michelena is stepping in to take one classroom, while the other classroom of third graders will be taught by Timmy Anderson. Michelena taught junior kindergarten last year.
Jeff Hunt and Kerri Theil will teach the fourth grade.
In fifth grade, the district has Kim Curtis and a new teacher, Nathaniel Boyer.
The special education department has also undergone changes, with Dawn (Crist) Thur and Anne Babiuk coming in from Aurora, Colo., and Buffalo, respectively, to fill two vacant positions. Jinks said she was planning to present to the board for approval the hiring of Gail Martin and Johnna Goodwin as special education paraprofessionals. Both have extensive experience as substitute teachers in the district, Jinks said.
The only other thing that will be “new” to many is a Math Boot Camp. As Jinks described it, students in every classroom will start each day with 15 minutes of math, running from 8:15 to 8:30 a.m.
“We are going to start utilizing the common core standards for math, which is a huge shift,” she said. “These are national standards, and the state of Wyoming has accepted that piece. It’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to take some work to get on board with that. But with that, there will be an increase in expectations at every grade level.”