Fired up for school

New teachers’, new students’ hopes for new year
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Hundreds of students milling about looking for their classrooms, waving to old friends and meeting new ones – it’s time for the first day of school. The Placer Union High School District and Auburn Union Elementary School District schools will be in full swing today as new and returning students begin another school year. This year at Placer High there will be a nutrition break between first and second periods so students can get a morning snack. The high school is also adding an AP Environmental Science class this year as well as extending its Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program to ninth-graders, according to Principal Peter Efstathiu. Four teachers are also transferring or returning to the school. Lori Ibrahim is the new drama teacher. Ibrahim is splitting her time between Placer High and Foresthill High. She will be teaching drama for the first half of the year and then teaching the musical program at Foresthill for the second half of the year. Ibrahim has been working for the district for five years and worked in Sacramento prior to that. She has experience with school drama productions as well as private productions throughout Northern California. Ibrahim said the fall production is scheduled for November, but she can’t say yet what it will be. However, her students are already excited. “I think they have a lot of vision of what they would like to see happen,” Ibrahim said. James Anderson is the new welding teacher at Placer High School. He transferred from Foresthill High School, where he worked for five years. Prior to that Anderson taught at Placer High for seven years. Anderson said there are several reasons why he’s glad to be teaching welding at Placer High. “I guess you can say I’m passionate about what I teach,” Anderson said. “This isn’t like a lot of other curriculum you find on campus. I get to combine a lot of things I like to do myself. I’m glad to be back at a larger school. You get a little larger reach that way, you kind of touch more people.” Randi Sindt is a new special day class teacher in the special education department. Sindt transferred from Chana High School, where she worked for a year. Sindt said teaching at Placer High is like coming home, because she graduated from the school in 2000, and her grandmother, parents, brother and husband also all graduated from the school. “I used to work here as an aide,” Sindt said. “This is where I fell in love with special education. This is where I decided I wanted to be a special education teacher. I think the main (goal I have) is just finding my place within the program. I have a wonderful staff to work with.” Joel Agee is a Spanish teacher who transferred from Del Oro High School to Placer High for one semester. He teaches beginning Spanish. In the spring, Agee will continue to teach Spanish at Del Oro. Agee said he is a third-generation graduate of Placer High, so teaching at the school just feels right, and his grandparents are proud. “I’m a Placer graduate, so it’s fun to be teaching at my own alma mater,” Agee said. Agee said meeting a whole new group of students is what he’s looking forward to the most. “Spanish is so much fun, especially Spanish 1,” Agee said. “The Spanish 1 class is such a goofy place. You are all struggling to say very basic things. Being in another language, students are willing to be a little more goofy.” Kacey Egusa, 13, is going to be a freshman at Placer High this year. “(I’m nervous about) having enough time getting from classroom to classroom,” Egusa said. “I’m not really worried about anything. I’m pretty confident about high school.” Samantha Martinez, 16, is going to be a junior this year and is on the varsity cheerleading team. Martinez said she is looking forward to football games and rallies, and wants to add another class. “I hope I get into psychology, but it’s really tight, so I don’t know if I will,” Martinez said. Jessi Fry, 14, a freshman this year, said she hopes she can take advantage of every opportunity during high school. “There are tons of things I’m going to want to take, and I know I’m not going to be able to do all of them,” Fry said. “Like tennis and drama, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to balance both of those.” Reach Bridget Jones at ----------------------------------------------------- Auburn Union Elementary School District This year brings several changes in the Auburn Union Elementary School District. Scott Pickett, who was the principal at Rock Creek Elementary for five years, is now the principal at Skyridge Elementary School. “I am looking forward to new opportunities, and I’m looking forward to getting to know a new community … getting to know the parents, the teachers, the students at Skyridge,” Pickett said. Pickett said there would be an additional kindergarten/first-grade combination class this year. Also, Louise Knop, who taught at Skyridge in the past, is teaching fifth grade for the first half of the year, and Noel Martin will teach for the second half. There is a new Advancement Via Individual Discipline (AVID) program at E.V. Cain for eighth-graders, as well as a pre-AVID class for seventh-graders. An eighth-grade Spanish elective has also been added to the school’s class list. This is the first year E.V. Cain will operate as a STEM Charter school, according to Michele Schuetz, superintendent of Auburn Union Elementary School District. Suzanne Flint is the new principal of Rock Creek Elementary School. Flint transferred from E.V. Cain, where she was an assistant principal. Flint said there are several staff members new to the Rock Creek campus including Amara Small, who teaches speech, Elizabeth Sutami, who teaches special day classes for third- to fifth-graders, Melanie Searls and Laura Lux, school psychologists, and Vanessa Jimenez, who is a Boys & Girls Club site director. Flint said she is happy to be working at an elementary school, even though she will miss E.V. Cain. “I’m excited to be on this campus, to be working with the families,” Flint said. “It’s a wonderful staff. Working at an elementary school, I feel we can do a lot at the elementary level to bring (students) up.” ----------------------------------------------------- What time does your school start? Placer High School, 7:40 a.m.-2:39 p.m. Foresthill High School, 7:45 a.m.-2:47 p.m. Del Oro High School, 7:50 a.m.-2:50 p.m. Colfax High School, 7:50 a.m.-2:50 p.m. E.V. Cain STEM Charter Middle School, 8 a.m.-2:23 p.m. Auburn Elementary School, 8:50 a.m.-3:05 p.m. Rock Creek Elementary School, 8:55 a.m.-3:10 p.m. Skyridge Elementary School, 7:55 a.m.-1:55 p.m. Bowman Charter School 8:15 a.m.-1:35 p.m. (Kindergarten) 8:15 a.m.-1:50 p.m. (first-third grades) 8:15 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (fourth-eighth grades) For information on bus service for Placer Union High School District visit the Mid-Placer Public Schools Transportation Agency at 13121 Bill Francis Drive in Auburn. For information on bus service for Auburn Union Elementary School District, visit the district’s website at or the district office at 255 Epperle Lane in Auburn.