Things going smoothly at consolidated school

Posted: Friday, November 12, 2004

Nikiski North Star Elementary School has had what Lori Manion, principal, describes as a "smooth but busy schedule" in its first quarter after consolidation. Since August, the school has hosted astronaut Billy Ophelein, author Jayne Rhyder and an average of 120 kids every morning for breakfast.

Manion delivered a slide show at the Nikiski Chamber of Commerce meeting on notable events since the move in August. Those happenings include preparing the building with the help of the Young Marines and custodial staff, the $25,000 investment in the playground and soccer goals and the instillation of the new sign, which Manion said was quite a hot topic.

The schools consolidated were North Star and Nikiski elementary schools. The new school is in the newer North Star building which was built in 1987. The school serves kindergarten through sixth-graders.

"I was actually expecting some clash, but that wasn't so. It has gone smoothly and everyone has collaborated well," Manion said.

Manion also defined two main goals tied directly to meeting Adequate Yearly Progress annual measurable goals standards: improvement in reading proficiency and comprehension, and math computation. Last year's scores were tabulated as two separate schools, a practice which will change this spring. These two subjects are highlighted in the No Child Left Behind standards for needing more attention. One thing that worries Manion is getting the special education classes up to those standards.

"The new NCLB standards are going to be a challenge, but raising the bar means we just have to work that much harder," Manion said. She said the staff at North Star plans to do whatever it takes, even testing every two weeks to note student progress throughout the year, instead of only at the beginning and end of the year, she said.

Manion had expected to have 370 students for this year, but ended up with 401. The average size of kindergarten, first, second and third-grade classes is 23 students, while grades four through six average 26 students per class. There are 26 certified, and 16 classified staff members. Community volunteers aid in tutoring and assisting in the breakfast program.

The schedule promises to remain full. On Nov. 19, the school will put on Family Space Night from 6:30 to 8 p.m. All are invited.

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