Summer doesn’t officially end for almost another four weeks.
But don’t mention that to students of San Juan Island School District. It could be cruel. For them, the bell tolls tomorrow, as in school bell.
The rhythm of San Juan Island will undergo a seismic shift starting Thursday, as the 755 or so students of the island’s sole public school district will be first to cross the threshold in the annual back-to-school migration. The biggest change is arguably at the elementary school, where the building sports new siding, new windows, a fresh coat of paint and has a new principal at the helm.
Hired in April, former Marysville middle school principal Diane Ball begins her tenure as principal of Friday Harbor elementary with the 2013-14 school year. Ball, a former elementary music teacher in Conway as well, for 18 years, feels right at home.
“It’s about the same size,” she said.
Over at the high school, Principal Fred Woods has three new teachers to introduce to the student body and an enrollment bump of about 25 sophomores to negotiate. Behind the scenes, there’s a new state-mandated teacher evaluation regimen to incorporate, one which Woods describes as “reciprocal accountability,” “labor intensive” and, ultimately, “helpful” for all involved (the elementary and middle schools will also use the same evaluation system).
School officials will also be busy completing designs for the antiquated tech building, which, thanks to a $1 million state STEM grant, will be remodeled into a facility dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math. The district has two years to complete the project.
Following in the footsteps of their public school counterparts, students at Stillpoint School, a state-certified private K-6 school, and Paideia Classical School begin classes Tuesday, Sept. 3. The next day, Spring Street International School, with an anticipated enrollment of about 80 students, 47 at the high school and 33 in middle school, begins its school year.
Headmaster Louis O’Prussack is thrilled to have back the entire faculty from a year ago, totaling 10 full-time and eight part-time teachers. “That’s golden,” he said.
O’Prussack said four new Advanced Placement courses have been added to the curriculum, that Spring Street will be home to 16 students from abroad, and that a few more students are expected this year from Lopez and Orcas islands.
Along with last year’s addition of an on-campus dormitory, the school is installing 1,600 square feet of permeable paver stones in what’s known as the “quad area” as both a gathering place and to help better define a “campus feel”.
All in all, it sounds like a pretty busy start to the school year on San Juan Island.