Back to school at Lake started with a bunch of bashes.
There was a picnic at Lake Elementary, a First Day Celebration at Walbridge, and freshmen dressing up as graduates for a special portrait at the high school.
Walbridge's celebration Aug. 24 for kindergartners and first-graders was designed to ease them into the school and a routine, said Principal Dolores Swineford. Parents were encouraged to take the day off and join their children for a bus ride and a cafeteria lunch.
"We had a wonderful turnout," she said. "It was a win-win, not only for the school but for the community."
There were several displays set up by the school nurse, physical education, Title 1 reading and math, the Lake Parent-Teacher-Organization, the fall fundraiser, Junior Achievement, the Girl Scouts and Walbridge Mayor Dan Wilczynski.
Swineford said the Walbridge Police Department created "child passports," fingerprinting students and cutting a lock of hair for emergency identification kits. The officers also led an afternoon parade through the village.
At the high school, Principal Marty Schloegl said photographing freshmen in caps and gowns during the Aug. 25 orientation was a fun way to remind them that the goal is to graduate.
Schloegl said the printouts will be free to Lake families, who can also order more through Portrait Innovations.
The strategy was learned through a High Schools That Work workshop, he said.
New Lake Elementary Principal Christie McPherson used a picnic and orientation to introduce herself. Many Lake families already know her, however; she and both of her children are Lake graduates and she has been an elementary principal in the Northwood School District for the last 10 years.
"The teachers are very dedicated and excited. They're eager to get going and be part of a team and do good things for kids. I'm excited to work with them because there's a lot of enthusiasm," McPherson said.
With the parties out of the way, it's time to go to work.
Students and teachers at Lake are working with thick binders filled with the Lake mission statement, pledge of respect, homework contract, behavior chart and personal and academic goals, McPherson said.
The teachers' books are data concentrated. Staff has been asked to focus on four questions: What do we want students to learn? How do we know when the student has acquired that knowledge? What happens when they learn it? And what happens when the student does not learn?
One of the main goals at the elementary this year is to improve state test scores and earn an "excellent" rating.
"It's no longer take the test and hope for the best. Hope is not a strategy," McPherson said. "When you do little things in an excellent way, good things will happen."
Test-taking and a state grade cards are also being stressed at the middle school - but the emphasis is on how to keep the "excellent" rating, said Principal Lee Herman.
To do that, teachers are getting more collaborative time with monthly school delays built into the schedule.
"We'll have constant talk on are we getting kids from one level to another, as prepared as we should be," he said.
At Walbridge, a building-wide behavior policy has been enacted.
Classes also have the chance to earn a reward from the principal if they can "fly with good behavior" during the week. The class with the most airplanes on their clouds gets a prize from Swineford.
Lake welcomes new employees
MILLBURY - There are a few new faces in the Lake School District this year.
Jay Ackerman is the new assistant principal at the high school.
At Lake Elementary, new hires include guidance counselor Brandi Birr, fourth-grade teacher Jen Moore, fourth-grade special education teacher Siera Stubbins, and two long-term substitutes Heather Wagner and Jenna Britt.
Kathy Schulak is a shared music teacher between the elementary and middle school. Also at the middle school, science teacher Stephanie Franke joins the staff.
There are no new staff members at Walbridge.
Lake School District key events
MILLBURY - Here are some key dates to mark on the calendar for Lake School District events:
Sept. 16, board of education meeting, 7 p.m., middle school; 7 p.m., Lake Elementary PTO meeting.
Sept. 25, Lake Elementary second grade grandparents breakfast.
Sept. 26, homecoming dance, 7 p.m.
June 2, last day for students
June 6, commencement.
New drivers, special ed director
MILLBURY - Students taking the bus in the Lake School District will see some new people at the wheel.
Five drivers retired last school year. With the union process, drivers with seniority can then bid on routes they'd like to have, resulting in even more changes.
In other news, the school board has promoted Jodi Takats from curriculum director to curriculum/special education director. She will earn $90,000 annually.