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Elementary school to see more students

Posted 8/26/09 (Wed)

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

Like most kids, Watford City Elementary students probably aren’t ready for summer to end and school to start. But ready or not, the first day of school is just around the corner and students can expect to see some new faces and a few changes around the school.
A growing student population has led to new faces among both students and teachers. Additional students called for an additional teacher for first and second grade and a teacher’s aide for kindergarten.
“We have two large kindergarten classes again this year so we have added an aide to assist those two teachers, plus an additional first grade teacher,” says Sherry Lervick, Watford City Elementary School principal. “Our first and second grade classes are too large for two teachers so we have three teachers in each of those classes.”
This will be the second year in a row for the school to have three second grade teachers, but the first time for the first grade classes.
“Joy Patten will be the additional first grade teacher,” adds Lervick. “She has several years of experience as a preschool teacher and she taught sixth grade here last year.”
According to Lervick, it is important to have smaller classes in first and second grade because that is when students learn the basics of reading and math.
“Having additional teachers allows us to offer more individual attention to our students,” states Lervick. “We see more success and less discipline problems when the classes are smaller.”
Along with the teacher changes, most students will see at least one new face amongst their classmates as 25 new students have registered at the elementary school for the 2009-2010 school year.
“So far we have had 25 students transfer from other schools,” comments Lervick. “That’s a lot of new students to the community and we are excited to see our enrollment numbers up.”
Along with new faces, students will also see the addition of new computers to each classroom and a new reading program.
“Our reading program was 10 years old, and even though it was a really good program, it was time to update,” adds Lervick. “The new program will be an adjustment for both students and teachers. But in the end, this program will be a great benefit to our students because it is set up to reach students at all learning levels ,something the old program didn’t offer.”
Other changes this year include stricter truancy laws and an addition to the elementary school handbook regarding cell phones.
“The legislature passed more stringent truancy laws so excessive tardiness and absentees will be scrutinized a lot more than in the past,” says Lervick. “And after seeing an increase in cell phone use last year, we decided to make a change to the handbook.”
Due to an increased number of elementary school students carrying cell phones, the school felt the need to add a cell phone policy to its handbook which states that students are not allowed to have cell phones in the classroom.
“Each classroom has a phone and there is a local phone available to students after school plus the buses each have radios. So there really is no need for students to have cell phones at school,” adds Lervick. “However, if a student is going someplace after school and they need to bring their phone with them, they can check it into the office during the school day and pick it up when school ends. We have no problem with that. We just don’t see any need for students to have cell phones in the classroom.”
“The students may not be excited to get back to school, but the staff here is ready to get things off and running for another great year,” states Lervick.
Watford City Elementary School kicks off its 2009-2010 school year on Thursday, Aug. 27.