As the last days of summer approach, students, teachers and administrators in Scotts Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley are hard at work preparing for the upcoming academic year. Below is an update of what changes have been made on various school campuses since students vacated them in June.
Bonny Doon Elementary School
Principal Stephanie Siddens is thrilled about the completion of a new science lab at the school. Paid for with capital facilities and developer fees monies, the lab has interactive white boards, a full kitchen, sinks, skylights and was constructed with many “green” building materials.
Along with the new classroom, the school will launch a science speaker series that will be open to the public.
The school welcomes speech teacher Julie Nalezny to its staff ranks and will also add a science specialist who will teach 4th grade science and manage the new classroom.
Boulder Creek Elementary School
Boulder Creek Elementary School welcomes five new teachers this year, including Kristin Gibney who will teach Kindergarten; Rachel Dahl, second grade; Kristian Carson, fifth grade; Julianne Foxworthy, fifth grade; Julia Lopez, upper grade science and intervention.
Principal Lynn Chappell is excited about the new play structure on the lower playground that should be open by the first day of school, and the school has been utilizing a new science and computer lab that were completed during last school year. The new structures were all funded by monies from Measure O.
Chappell said the school is continuing its strong reading and writing workshop tradition – a program that many visitors observe during the year.
Brook Knoll Elementary School
Principal Shar Santos is gearing up for her first full year after taking over for Phillip Menchaca who took a new position in San Jose in January.
Santos welcomes several new teachers and staff this year including Sharon Keane from Vine Hill Elementary to teach fifth grade; school psychologist James Van Zelzer from Washington and Lisa Fenton from Oregon to teach pre-Kindergarten special education. Katie Wood, will move from the pre-kindergarten class to the kindergarten through second grade special education class.
The campus has a new play structure donated by the Scotts Valley Educational Foundation and a local eagle scout replaced and painted the entire lunch bench on the lower playground. Another eagle scout will start construction of a modular stage that the students raised money for last year.
Santos is also excited about 18 large televisions along with an iPad and Apple TV that were installed in each classroom after a donation by the school’s parent teacher association.
Several Brook Knoll alumni have started an after school homework club and Santos said the school is looking at other enrichment options, like a math team, for after school.
The school is continuing its “kindness” program this year and has also partnered with the Scotts Valley Fire Protection District to teach fire safety on campus.
San Lorenzo Valley Elementary School
Playground re-paving and re-striping, along with new paint and shelving in the school’s library, are upgrades San Lorenzo Valley Elementary School students will find when they return to school.
Principal Shannon Calden is also excited about several new teachers at the school, including Leana Abulencia-Shapli and Rachelle Armstrong who will both teach fifth grade; Erica Lanctot, second grade; Carrie Berk, first grade; Gillian Blair, math specialist; and Kirsten Maure, speech and language pathologist.
Vine Hill Elementary School
Led by Principal Michelle Stewart, Vine Hill Elementary School returns to action with her staff of 17 full-time teachers, two special-education teachers, a speech therapist, and a part-time support staff that includes a librarian, counselor and psychologist.
The student population, estimated to be slightly more than 500, will return to a campus that has seen some facelifts over the summer vacation — a freshly repaved driveway entrance and a higher safety fence along Vine Hill School Road.
On the downside, in the wake of the layoffs of two teachers due to budget cuts from the state, there will be a combination class at each grade level for the first time this school year.
But educators hope students will have more hands-on experience in science, as once a month each class will participate in a science demonstration that Stewart hopes will generate further interest in the annual science fair.
The school is also implementing a kindness program in which kids can earn tickets — which are redeemable for various small prizes — for performing good deeds.
Baymonte Christian School
The private school boasts kindergarten through eighth-grade courses, and will have three preschools following the closing of escrow on the former Bethany University Early Childhood Learning Center.
According to Principal Steve Patterson, the student population will be about 325 — an increase of more than a dozen students heading into the school year, which begins Sept. 4.
Patterson said the school is in the process of hiring a new staff member before the first day of school.
An open play day is scheduled for from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Aug. 27 for prospective preschool students to introduce parents and children to the school and its environment.
San Lorenzo Valley Middle School
With former San Lorenzo Valley Middle School physical education teacher Mark Mercer taking the athletic director job at San Lorenzo Valley High School, Principal Jeff Calden welcomes Kirk Jennings from the high school to teach P.E.
The school also welcomes Heidi Romswinckel as a part-time language arts teacher and Marisol Briones as a special-education assistant.
Calden said the school is launching a life skills elective program, run by Matt O’Brien and overseen by Dean of Students Mary Zilge, to teach students all the “important stuff” not taught in traditional academic subjects. Among the topics covered are study skills, health class information, social media and using a computer keyboard.
Mark Thomas is also teaching a new building and engineering elective that partners with more advanced classes at the high school, taught by David Grant.
The school is utilizing the new Measure O-funded library completed last year and is looking forward to the construction of a new performing arts center on campus in the near future.
Scotts Valley Middle School
Though the estimated student population holding steady at about 600, Scotts Valley Middle School returns with two new teachers.
The school, led by Principal Mary Lonhart, will welcome Tracy Morse, who will teach eighth-grade math, and Julia Root, who will teach seventh-grade history and English.
Lonhart said that one of the school’s keystones, the academy program, will be back this year, too. This program calls for teachers to share a common group of students, so all students will be able to receive small-group and one-on-one attention. It is also designed to encourage open lines of communication between parents and teachers.
San Lorenzo Valley High School
First-year Principal Karen van Putten has been hard at work since being hired to replace Michael Arredondo, who resigned due to health concerns last spring.
Van Putten is excited to work with new Athletic Director Mark Mercer, who replaces Marcus Northcutt.
Other new staff members include Laurie Shipley, who will led Advanced Placement calculus, math analysis and algebra 2; Heidi Romswinkel-Guise, who will teach ninth-grade English; Dennis Cavaille, who will teach algebra 1 and 2 after returning to the school after working three years for the Santa Cruz Teacher Project; and Katie Amos, the assistant principal’s secretary.
As for the school’s facilities, the community pool locker room and changing area are currently under construction and will be completed in September. Plans are also under way for a new performing arts center.
For students, the Guidance and Counseling Department will unveil Naviance in the fall — an online college and career exploration tool that will help students to navigate the college application process.
Scotts Valley High School
With a student population of more than 800, Scotts Valley High School is preparing for the upcoming year with a bevy of new features and courses.
Led by Principal Valerie Bariteau, the teaching staff includes new hire Cody Stein, who will teach algebra 2 and geometry.
Students — sophomores in particular — will have a wide of variety of courses from which to choose. The physical education department will offer such classes as biomechanics, dance, aerobics and feature nontraditional sports such as cricket.
For sophomores planning to enroll in International Baccalaureate courses as upperclassmen, the school will offer an English honors class to prepare them.
Regional Occupational Program courses, such as music production and recording art, will be offered as well, making use of the campus’ recording studio — the only one of its kind in the county.
First Day of School
San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District: Tuesday, Aug. 28
Scotts Valley Unified School District: Wednesday, Aug. 29
Bonny Doon Elementary School: Wednesday, Aug. 29
Baymonte Christian School: Tuesday, Sept. 4