Mountain Area schools ready for Aug. 19 opening

awileman@sierrastar.comAugust 13, 2013 

The Yosemite High School campus came alive last week with high school and youth football practice, a volleyball clinic, youth cheerleaders practice, and the Yosemite High marching band rehearsing on Raupp Field at Badger Stadium — all signs that Yosemite High and other Mountain Area schools are preparing to open Monday, Aug. 19.

This school year boasts a batch of new faculty and curriculum for many of the schools in Eastern Madera County.

Yosemite High School

Yosemite High will welcome two new staff members and a few new programs this year. Joining the staff at Yosemite will be Kate Bigelow, the school's new agriculture teacher and FFA adviser and Cari Rumohr, the school's new athletic trainer and Regional Occupational Program teacher. Rumohr is looking forward to teaching a subject she is passionate about. "I would love my students to come out with a real sense of how to come out as real professionals, in their speech and performance," Rumohr said. Yosemite will add Joe Vanbalinghem to full-time status. Vanbalinghem will be teaching special education.

In addition to new staff Yosemite will offer students a new digital film and movie class that will be taught by long-time Yosemite High teacher and film professional, Gary Sconce.

Sconce, who is entering his 31 year of teaching, says the idea behind the ROP (Regional Occupational Program) is to educate and encourage students to get involved in the world of film production and cinematography.

Throughout the year, juniors and seniors will be learn to produce short films, commercials and scripts all of which should give them exposure to an industry they might have otherwise overlooked.

The school anticipates the two period class will offer ample time to teach students all aspects of film including pre-production, post-production and distribution.

"We hope to give students their skills to work in an exciting industry," Sconce said. Sconce, a long-time movie professional, hopes the program will give students an opportunity to learn an industry with so much to offer and the skills to join that industry after graduation.Sconce plans to showcase the students finished works, at the Met Cinema at the end of the year.

Yosemite anticipates more than 725 students on campus this year. Freshman orientation will be Thursday, Aug. 15 from 9:45a.m. - 2:30 p.m and will give incoming freshman a chance to acclimate and familiarize themselves with the campus. Back to school orientation for parents will be Sept. 5 at 6 p.m.

Rivergold Elementary

Rivergold Elementary School, part of the Yosemite district, will be introducing five new teachers, the most new teachers added in one year in the school's history.

"We've never hired that many teachers in the 22 years of our existence," principal Cindy Simons said.

The new teachers are Katie Talbot, the school's new Kindergarten teacher; Sylvia Sloas, teaching first grade; Antonetta Haggard, fifth grade; Kelly Ward, teaching seventh and eighth grade; and Ellen Jessing, a resource specialist (Special Education).

Jessing, previously taught general and special education, says that she is focusing on reading goals including comprehension and decoding of words and is acclimating well. "I've met a few people on staff and everybody is friendly and I get a feeling of a family here," Jessing said.

Oak Creek Intermediate

Oak Creek Intermediate will welcome a new transfer to their staff. Sherrie Clark, who taught fifth grade last year at Oakhurst Elementary, will be joining the O.C.I. team to be part of the Resource Specialist Program.

In addition Oak Creek has made some improvements to the campus. Superintendent Glenn Reid says there was a lot of maintenance and work done over the summer at Oak Creek. "They did some work over the summer and painted the gymnasium and re-stripped the looks like a new building," Reid said.

Reid said that the numbers of students is holding steady and has not fluctuated in recent years.

Oakhurst Elementary

It is a busy time for schools and faculty as they anticipate the reintroduction of students to the Bass Lake School District, but Superintendent Glen Reid said he is prepared and looking forward to the upcoming school year.

"Summer crews did a great job getting the campus ready for the upcoming year" Reid said.

Principal Kathleen Murphy, reports two new teachers will be at Oakhurst Elementary this year — Kirsten Korte, fourth grade, and Cindy Medema, fifth grade.

"Both are exceptionally versed on Common Core Standards as well as curriculum, instructional techniques and strategies and technology," Murphy said.

All classrooms at Oakhurst Elementary are now equipped with multimedia projectors, document scanners and teacher and student work-stations.

According to Murphy, parents now have the opportunity to go on-line to complete the free/reduced lunch application, place money into their child's lunch account, check their child's accelerated reader points (books read), as well as other pertinent information.

"The Oakhurst Elementary School staff is thrilled to begin another fabulous school year, working together with all our families to provide a quality instructional program."

Informational parents night will be on Aug. 29 at 5:30 p.m.

Wasuma Elementary

Ahwahnee's Wasuma Elementary School will bring in three new teachers as well as a returning teacher, who spent last year teaching in China. Ceceelia Oetinger took a year off teaching at Wasuma Elementary in order to travel abroad to teach in China. She will be returning to teach fifth-grade at Wasuma and feels it was a great experience that gave insight to teaching.

Oetinger will be joined by Wasuma's new faculty members, Amy Smith, junior high math and science; Viven Cooley, Kindergarten; and Taryn Tompkins, teaching unknown primary grades. District Superintendent Glenn Reid says the numbers of students is up from last year including a school-record 48 incoming kindergartners.

Coarsegold Elementary

Coarsegold will bring aboard three new teachers to campus says principal Bob Rose. The new teachers include Kristen Kernaghan, Kindergarten; Machelle Arrington, Primary Special Education; and Jody Burnett, sixth grade.

Mountain Home School/Glacier High Charter School

Mountain Home School and Glacier High Charter School will be welcoming 215 students this year according to Glacier High Principal Mindy Klang, who has been at the school 15 years, five as principal.

The school will welcome new staff member, Denise Cudd. Cudd will be teaching K-8 for the non-grade specific charter school. She has more than 15 years teaching experience and Klang says she is looking forward to the new energy on campus. "She is new to us but not new to the profession, she comes to us with knowledge," Klang said.

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