Sharpen your pencils, school starts on Friday
By Trudy Balcom
RAWLINS — For the children of Rawlins, the most dreaded, and anticipated day of the year arrives tomorrow.
The first day of school.
Darren Jennings, the principal at Rawlins Elementary School (RES) has a positive outlook as the new school year begins.
“Last year was the first year with our new curriculum, that really helped. Our MAP test (Measure of Academic Progress) scores grew in every grade level from the year before,” he said.
“I think we just keep getting better and better,” he said.
The start of the school year brings new experiences for both teachers and students.
One hundred and forty-four Kindergarten students have been enrolled this fall at RES. The Kindergarten class, Jennings said, has been divided into three separate groups for Kindergarten orientation.
“What we do is to take three days to get all our Kindergartners into the school routine,” Jennings said.
That means students learn where to hang up their coats, how to line up for lunch and for the bus at the end of the day. Jennings said with 144 students, it’s just easier to get them started in smaller groups.
The Kindergarten student orientation days will be held Friday, Monday and Tuesday, with full Kindergarten classes to begin Wednesday.
The elementary school will have eight teachers that are new to the district starting this year, in addition to some teachers that were already in the district and are switching to RES from Sinclair Elementary or Rawlins Middle School.
Students from the shuttered Sinclair Elementary School are also getting a fresh start in a new building, but Jennings said that former Sinclair students have already had the opportunity to spend time in the RES building and get acquainted, so no special orientation activities are planned for these students.
“We did so many transition activities in the spring, they’re ready,” Jennings said.
“We don’t have to do a lot, that’s what Sinclair parents are telling me,” Jennings added.
Improvements to K-1 building
The remodeling at the K-1 building isn’t quite done yet, Jennings said, but he said the building is ready for the start of school.
“The new playground is amazing,” Jennings said, noting it has a safe play surface for smaller children.
He also said the new skylighting added to the interior classrooms in the K-1 building creates “a better learning environment.”
The completion for the new windows to be added to the front of the building, the final component of the remodeling, is scheduled for the end of September.
Enrollment up, for now
Schools across Wyoming are bracing for declining enrollments due to the loss of jobs in the energy sector and across the economy. Jennings said that the enrollment numbers at RES have not yet experienced that decline.
“We’ve had good enrollment of new students. If we can hold our own or gain a few kids, that would be wonderful,” he said.
Enrollment at RES currently stands at 822, up from 804 at the close of the previous school year last spring. But Jennings said that enrollment numbers wouldn’t be finalized for a few weeks yet.
Jennings said that all formerly enrolled students remain on their roster until RES receives a request for a student’s records from another school after the student has moved away. He won’t know how the enrollment numbers shake out until some time in October.