First Day Of School

Students exit a school bus in front of Austin Elementary School as the first day of the 2019-20 school year in the Vermillion School District began Wednesday morning, meaning Jolley Elementary, the Vermillion Middle School and Vermillion High School were also busy places that morning. Wednesday was also the first day of school at St. Agnes Catholic School in Vermillion.

This week, summer break officially ended for many area students as they returned to their classrooms for the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

In Vermillion, students at St. Agnes Elementary and the Vermillion public schools started school again on Wednesday, Aug. 21.While official enrollment numbers are not yet available, VSD Superintendent Damon Alvey estimated that the district will see enrollment numbers similar to last year.

“It looks favorable that our numbers will remain close to last year with perhaps a few more,” he said. “We have had a number of families move in and move out, so [enrollment numbers] are a bit of a moving target. … Last fall, we had 1,259 students in the district with around 230 students at Austin, about 350 at Jolley, around 295 in the middle school, and about 380 at the high school.”

This year, the Vermillion School District is welcoming seven new administrators or teaching staff, including: Chabli Hodge (social work); Collin Crandell (middle school geography); Jon Frey (high school principal); Luke Hayes (counselor at Austin); Shalea Schloss (alternative school teacher); Laura Sundberg (kindergarten); and Klaire Lockheart (sixth grade art).

One new feature in the Vermillion School District this year is the social work position.

“This person will work directly with staff to identify at-risk students and to work with families to solve issues and provide resources,” said Alvey.

Another new position for the district is a curriculum-technology integrationist, he said.

“This person will work with teachers on their technology initiatives,” Alvey explained. “This person will also help educate teachers on the latest trends and the best instructional uses for technology we have in our buildings.”

Alvey admits that this time of year – the start of school – is one of his favorite times of the year.

“I love the beginning of a new school year,” he said. “Seeing students and staff return and the buildings full of excitement is wonderful. I view each year as a new start and a do-over. We get the opportunity to “do over” anything we wish again. If something didn’t work, we can do it over. If we had great results, we do it over the same way to replicate success!”

Alvey thanks the community for its continued support of the school district.

“We have awesome things happening already and we are excited to continue to provide an excellent learning opportunity for our students,” he said. “Go Tanagers!”

In the Irene-Wakonda School District, meanwhile, the school year got off to a good start on Wednesday, Aug. 14. Irene-Wakonda Superintendent Dave Hutchison says the district has 288 students this year, which breaks down to 151 in elementary, 42 in junior high, and 95 in high school.

“The enrollment numbers are up five students from last year at this time as there were 283 students in grades K – 12 then,” said Hutchison. “Other good news is that our four-year old preschool currently has 20 students.”

Six new staff or teachers were added to the I-W Eagle staff this year, including: Ali Garrett (guidance counselor), Hannah McCalmont (sixth grade teacher), Pat O’Malley (head custodian at Irene site), Devin Bendt (head custodian at Wakonda site), Heather Logue (school nurse), and Aaron Armstrong (school resource officer).

“The teachers, staff, and administration look forward to another great school year in 2019 – 2020,” Hutchinson said, “and providing a safe and welcoming environment that is conducive for all students to learn in!”


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