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New year brings change for local schools

Two programs added to Rock Creek to help students adjust to school, superintendent says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Teachers are sprucing up their classrooms and reviewing their lesson plans. It’s that time again, students. Get ready for back to school. Michele Schuetz, superintendent of the Auburn Union School District, said she is excited about some changes happening in the district’s schools. Schuetz said this year the district has several fresh faces, including new Chief Business Officer Monica Williams, a new accountant, a new principal at Skyridge Elementary School and 13 new teachers. The district’s special day class for kindergarten through third grade is being moved from Auburn Elementary School to Skyridge, according to Schuetz. Rock Creek Elementary School is also seeing the addition of some new classes, including a Title I preschool and junior kindergarten class, Schuetz said. Schuetz said students who aren’t developmentally ready for kindergarten can get the beginning skills they need in the junior class. “We are saying, ‘Give them to us,’” she said. “‘Let us work on the skills we know they need in preparation for kindergarten. Let us work on the kindergarten standards.’” Schuetz said parents in the Rock Creek community sometimes don’t have the financial means to send their children to preschool, so she thinks the new Title I program for 3 and 4 year olds is ideal. According to Schuetz, the preschool is free for students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and who live in the Rock Creek enrollment area. “We felt this was an economical way to support our parents in these tough times when they are paying for preschool,” Schuetz said. Last week Rock Creek held a week-long school preparation program with Linda LoBue, a local education consultant. The class included 15 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old English language learners. Suzanne Flint, principal of Rock Creek, said this class was particularly important for incoming kindergartners, because they will be expected to learn to read English during their first year of school. “It gives our students exposure to school, and literature skills and math skills earlier, so they are prepared for all the academic rigor in the kindergarten curriculum,” Flint said. “It’s a long road to go from zero to reading in nine months.” Monika Peak, Rock Creek’s junior kindergarten teacher, said because of Senate Bill 1381, which says that by 2014 students have to be 5 years old by Sept. 1 to start kindergarten, the junior class is important. “In light of the move of the age limit … we need to have something accessible (where students are) entering into school and a kindergarten like atmosphere,” Peak said. “I’m very excited to get going.” This year kindergartners still have until Dec. 2 to turn 5 years old, but next year the deadline will move up to Nov. 1. Placer High junior Emily Rodgers, 16, president of the school’s Associated Student Body, said the school’s ASB class was working Friday to prepare for freshman orientation and will continue to plan for homecoming week, which begins Sept. 26. “I’m looking forward to our homecoming week this year,” Rodgers said. “I know it’s going to be great. We have got a lot of good people working on the planning for that. Academically, I’m looking forward to being challenged in different AP courses. I think as an ASB class we are looking forward to building the school spirit and school pride.” Gary Yee, principal of Bowman Charter School, said the school hired a new fifth-grade teacher and part-time occupational therapist. Bowman is also having its professional learning community early release days on Mondays this year to coincide with Placer High. Peter Efstathiu, principal of Placer High, said AP psychology and agriculture welding have been added to the school’s schedule. Freshmen also have two new required courses: an 18-week computer course called Tech Essentials and a cardio/health class. The school hired five new teachers and is planning on filling three more positions, Efstathiu said. Steve Caminiti is the school’s new dean of students, replacing former Assistant Principal Gary Pantaleoni, who retired at the end of last year, Efstathiu said. According to Efstathiu, the school will be keeping senior projects in its curriculum for this school year with the blessing of the Placer Union High School District. “I’m just looking forward to a whole new group of freshmen coming in and the new group of seniors who I started with as freshmen four years ago,” Efstathiu said. “So, we are all finishing our fourth year together, and I’m just looking forward to another fun, exciting year on the hill.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ----------------------------------------------------- When does your school start? Auburn Union School District: Aug. 17 Information: Call (530) 885-7242 Placer Union High School District: Aug. 17 Information: Call (530) 886-4400 Placer High School: Schedule change days this week: Seniors 8-11 a.m. Wednesday, Juniors 12:30-3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sophomores 8-11 a.m. Thursday, Freshmen 12:30-3:30 p.m. Thursday Freshmen orientation: 9-11 a.m. Thursday Ackerman Charter School District/Bowman Charter School: Aug. 17 Information: Call (530) 885-1974 Newcastle Elementary School District: Aug. 17 Information: Call (916) 663-3307 Colfax Elementary School District: Aug. 22 Information: Call (530) 346-2202 Foresthill Union School District: Aug. 18 Information: Call (530) 367-2966 Loomis Union School District: Aug. 18 Information: Call (916) 652-1800 Placer Hills Union School District: Aug. 24 Information: Call (530) 878-2606 Alta-Dutch Flat School District: Aug. 17 Information: Call (530) 389-8283