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What's new this year?

By Megan Kehoe / The Bulletin

Published Aug 28, 2013 at 05:00AM

Students returning to the hallways of Central Oregon schools this September will arrive to find that change is in the air. Here's a rundown of the improvements and updates students and parents should expect to see as they head back to school.

Bend La-Pine Schools will have two extra days this year, restoring the district to a full school year. The district will also implement phase one of its digital conversion program, which is geared toward incorporating digital technology in the classroom, at seven area schools: Lava Ridge Elementary, Buckingham Elementary, High Lakes Elementary, Juniper Elementary, Rosland Elementary, Summit High School and Mountain View High School.

The Redmond School District is offering a new online school program to students in K-12 this year. Students can attend class at their school while simultaneously taking online lessons. For more information about the program, visit www.redmondk12online.org. In addition, all Redmond elementary schools now have all-day kindergarten. Redmond High School's Career Technical Education program is expanding to include manufacturing.

The Sisters School District is offering AP Chinese at its high school this year, and is planning to integrate Chinese language lessons into the middle and elementary schools. The district is also partnering with local engineering company Energyneering Solutions Inc. to offer Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) courses this year at the high school level. In addition, the district is offering free all-day kindergarten this year, and will also have preschool at its elementary school.

The Crook County School District has increased funding to several programs, including its outdoor school and sports programs. The district has also added a music program to its elementary schools, which have not had a music education program since before the recession.

In the Jefferson County School District, construction efforts to add additional space to Madras High School will continue. Construction is expected to continue throughout the school year, and may affect student parking on the campus.

A good start is key

Wondering how to start the new school year on the right foot? Local teachers weigh in on what students and parents can do to make the first week run smoothly:

Christie McCormick, language arts teacher at Summit High School

McCormick, who is in her seventh year of teaching at Summit High School, said the most important thing students and parents can do to start the year off right is come to the classroom with an open mind.

“It's important to start the year with a fresh attitude,” McCormick said. “I'd advise open-mindedness and coming to school with a willingness to trust.”

Ray Page, fifth-grade teacher at Juniper Elementary School

Page said one of the best tips he can give to parents is to make sure their child is getting enough sleep.

“With it being so light out during summer, it's easy for kids to stay up until 9 or later,” Page said. “Starting right from the beginning, students should be going to bed early so they get enough sleep.”

Dan Potts, Pilot Butte Middle School, dean of students

Potts said one of the most important things parents can do to start the year off right is to attend the schools' open houses and back to school nights, especially at the middle school level, where students have more than one teacher for the first time.

“It gives parents a chance to meet the teachers and talk to them about any special learning needs their child might have,” Potts said. “That face-to-face meeting is important.”

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