North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Local school districts welcome students back for new year


September 13, 2017 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

Jenny Durfee, center, takes Dylan Durfee, left, to the first day of the new school year at Pioneer Elementary in Arlington on Sept. 6, along with Damien Durfee, right, who will begin kindergarten next week.

Local school districts opened their doors for the first day of school last week on Sept. 6.

The Marysville, Lakewood and Arlington school districts all welcomed their students, grade 1 through 12, back, while kindergarten students begin the week after.

Lakewood High School students entered the new Lakewood High School for the first time.

"I think everyone's extremely excited about the new building and appreciative of the support from the community," said Lakewood School District Superintendent Michael Mack.

Student Lucy Johnson said she was excited for the new school building.

Other students, like Lakewood High School junior Sage Elsea, are entering the district for the first time.

Elsea said she is a "little nervous."

"I haven't been to public school since first grade and I just moved to the area," she said.

Mack said that the district's new high schools is "delightful."

"I think it turned out well," he said. "Like any building project there are areas we still need to tend to, but overall in terms of functionality, in terms of ease and the academic environments, it's just wonderful,."

Construction workers are finishing some "bits of work" in the choir, band room and theater for the high school, and some additional parking.

The majority of the work being done is taking down the old Lakewood High School though.

"It is still kind of an active construction site on part of the campus and students are understanding of that," said Mack.

The district has been growing in recent years and Mack said that student and teacher numbers look to be up this year.

"We have a growing student body," he said.

"We hired some young dynamic teachers and have a veteran staff," he said.

Because of increased funding as a result of the state Supreme Court's McCleary decision, there has been more money for elementary school teachers as well.

The Marysville School District hired more teachers with those funds.

"It's so exciting because this year we were able to hire more teachers in K-3 [kindergarten through third grade] because of the legislature," said Sharon Anderson, principal of Grove Elementary.

Anderson said that this has helped reduce class sizes at Grove Elementary.

"We were just walking through all the classrooms checking in to make sure everyone's okay," she said.

"And just to see all the kids in the classrooms and that the numbers are smaller, the teachers are able to get to them faster," she said.

The year has started off well for many teachers because of that, said Anderson.

"We're pretty excited to be here," she said.

"The whole building feels like a new sense of energy," she said.

Families and children were also energized for the start of another year of learning at their local school districts.

"It was a great start," said Arlington School District Superintendent Chrys Sweeting.

"Everyone was excited to be back even though we had some smoke and ash clouding the air," she said, referring to the smoke from state wildfires that polluted the Puget Sound for much of the week.

Sweeting said that the district "did have to navigate the air quality issue," and has worked to shorten team practices so students aren't in the air as much and provided indoor activities for those with sensitivities or conditions.

Christopher Andersson

Grove Elementary teacher Lisa VanderWeyst teaching her class during the first week of the new school year on Sept. 8.

The night before the first day, all the elementary schools had back-to-school nights which helped get students inspired for the new year, said Sweeting.

"I attended one of them myself and they were all well-attended. There was nothing but excitement there," she said.

Families were also excited for their first day the next morning.

"It's great. It's fun to start another school year," said local parent Jenny Durfee. "This one will start next week in kindergarten and he's very excited."

"I like having them home," said local parent Sandra Matthews, "so I'm a little sad, but they're excited," she said.

Sweeting said she appreciates the work everyone in the community does to support the district.

"Its very apparent that our mission requires a joint effort from everyone in the community," she said.

"It really has been an effort all throughout the summer to get ready," she said.


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