As I said to staff during the last week of August and to a gym full of eager students on Sept. 3: Welcome back!
The beginning of the school year always arrives with much anticipation. A sense of newness, a fresh start or just plain getting back in the swing of things are often ways that people describe the first few days or weeks of school.
We certainly have a lot to look forward to during the upcoming year at Pine River-Backus High School as we continue to focus on engaging young learners and working to equip them with the skills that they will need to find success in the 21st century.
All students in grades 7-12 (we have almost 400 of them) take part in a six-period day in which each class period is 55 minutes long. Students will benefit from strong curricula in the core subjects of math, science, social studies and English language arts.
Work is ongoing to ensure that courses taught in each of these areas are aligned to Minnesota’s academic standards, recently adopted as the Common Core Standards.
Students also rotate through several elective areas in 7-9th grades, including health, physical education, Project Lead the Way, art, family and consumer sciences and French. Technology education, business, band and choir offerings are also popular choices for students at PR-B.
Beginning in their junior year students are able to take advantage of our strong College in the Schools (CIS) program, enabling them to earn college credit for rigorous classes taught by high school teachers who have been approved by Central Lakes College in a concurrent enrollment agreement. This year students can earn CIS credits in all of the core subjects as well as business, tech ed and French.
On Monday, Sept. 9, students received their iPads as we began year two of our iPride-Engage initiative. Teachers are continuing to work with the iPad as a tool to engage learners, encourage creativity and foster student collaboration.
Though valued mainly for their classroom project capabilities, the iPads also promote technological advantages in communication and organization. While in the hallway last week I had a student tell me that she needed to get her iPad fast because she wanted to start entering dates and deadlines in her Google calendar.
Students can also look forward to the second year of our efforts to purposefully recognize positive behaviors and achievements. We will hold quarterly celebration assemblies to honor students who have met and exceeded expectations in the classrooms, hallways, fields, courts and the arts. Many organizations and clubs ranging from student council to Teens Leading the Way and National Honor Society will continue to keep our students busy and working to better themselves and our school.
As I took in the Tiger football game on Friday night I was filled with pride by the thought of just how many people are working to make the PR-B community a great place to be. There was a really nice crowd of students, staff, parents and community members in attendance. The coaches were coaching, the kids were playing, some of the young fans were playing a football game of their own. The booster club was working and the PR-B concession trailer was in full swing.
Inside the school the custodians were hard at work readying the building for the students’ Monday return. A parent volunteer worked in the elementary school. A church was ready to host 50 students for a free pizza party after the game. By Saturday morning the building was full again for the Pine and Lakes Volleyball Tournament.
It is fall, school is back and there is no better place to be than PR-B!
(Trent Langemo is principal at Pine River-Backus High School.)