August 19, 2009

McKenzie County schools start classes next week

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

Although unseasonably cool weather has most kids feeling like summer hasn’t even started, the time has come for summer vacation to end with McKenzie County students heading back to school over the next week.
Watford City, Alexander and Johnson Corners Christian Academy have had a busy summer updating facilities and planning for the coming school year.
McKenzie County Public
School  District No. 1
With fewer teacher retirements this past year, students will only see a few new faces when the doors open on Thursday, Aug. 27.
They will, however, see a new walkway to the football field, new computers and some new playground equipment at the elementary school.
“The biggest change for students will likely be our technology project which replaced virtually all district computers with new updated ones,” says Steve Holen, McKenzie County School District No. 1 superintendent. “Our computer labs in both buildings will offer new computers that offer great flexibility in student/teacher use.”
Also enhancing student/teacher use are SMART board speakers which were added to each classroom to enhance the ability to use multimedia audio for classroom instruction.  The biggest change for the K-3 elementary students will be the additional playground equipment added this summer. 
“Our elementary school has also updated its reading curriculum with an entire new reading series in grades K-6,” adds Holen. “We are excited about the new curriculum and the benefits to our reading program at the elementary school.”
Watford City High School has two new teachers this year.  Mr. Scott Wisness is the new Vo Ag instructor and Mr. Eric Krogen is the new high school social studies instructor.  Other new staff include Marie Heller, high school head cook, and Keith Helmuth, bus driver.
“It is somewhat difficult to gauge enrollment numbers at this time; however, it looks like we will be at the same enrollment as last year or slightly higher,” comments Holen. The enrollment numbers of our lower grades K-2 are very encouraging because they are as large as our senior class this year.”
Students can expect a staff that is ready and the general excitement of another school year.  The first two days of school being on a Thursday and Friday allow the students to get acquainted with their surroundings and new classes with a short week before starting a full schedule the following week.
“As a district, I feel we are making efforts to continually improve what we offer while enhancing the educational experience for students in the district,” states Holen. “The goal is to prepare our students for the world that awaits them, and to continually find ways to improve our delivery methods to match the needs of today’s student.  I think it is a great time to be a student in McKenzie County School District No.1.
Alexander Public
School District No. 2
New playground equipment and three new teachers will make for an exciting first day of school for Alexander students on Monday, Aug. 24.
New playground equipment was purchased thanks to the Alexander PTO and the McKenzie County Commission.
“We have a great staff and a great program and now all we need are the students,” says Murray Kline, Alexander Public School superintendent. “The building is pretty quiet without the students; it will be nice to have them back.”
New teachers to Alexander include John O’Conner, science, Patrick Spacher, computers and business and Mark Suelzle, music.
The school also has some new students with enrollment at 67 students, up seven from last year.
“The increase in enrollment is due to new students moving into the area,” adds Kline. “Students and teachers are going to jump right in on the first day. The teachers will say howdy and the students will get right to work.
Johnson Corners
Christian Academy
The Academy expects to see between 15 and 17 students when its doors open for the 2009-2010 school year on Wednesday, Aug. 26.
“While I personally would be in favor of having more summer before school starts again, I am also looking forward to the daily contact with students,” says Adrian Timmons, Johnson Corners Christian Academy administrator. “We are given so many opportunities to shape the life and direction of each student. I also look forward to working with our board of directors for another school year.”
There will be a few students introduced to DVD teaching this year and thanks to a gift designated for air conditioning, the last third of the school building now has central air.
“Students and staff will be more comfortable on hot August and September school days,” says Timmons. “I am not worried about students adjusting to the DVD teaching because our students seem to adjust easily no matter what the changes are and the schools aides are a great help when it comes to adjusting.”
New to the JCCA staff this school year will be Ms. Nicole Parrish as a high school teacher’s aide. “Parrish is the first JCCA graduate to come back to the school as a full time staff member.