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What's new this school year? We asked, and Hudson administrators answered

The new school year started for Hudson students on Monday, Sept. 10, so the Star-Observer asked principals and administrators to answer a few questions about what is new in their schools this year.

Peg Shoemaker, Hudson High School principal

What is new in the building?

Same great teachers, same great students but amazing new learning spaces for students to learn! Every space has been enhanced with natural lighting, flexible space so that the classroom space can match the lesson design, comfortable social spaces for discussion and conversation, safety and security that emphasizes clear lines of sight and remote lock-down, and collaboration spaces that mirror real-life work settings as well as new HVAC and new technology.

Are there any new programs/initiatives starting this year?

This year we have new spaces that we will be integrating into our teaching and learning including a health care lab, an innovation studio, AV studio and our school forest. We will continue our commitment to designing and delivering high quality rigorous learning experiences.

What are you most looking forward to this school year?

I am most excited to see how these new spaces transform and enrich learning. I am eager to see our students, staff, parents and community members as they enter our new building. This is truly a showcase high school. I thank the Board of Education and our entire community for making this space possible for years and years to come.

Jim Dalluhn, Hudson Middle School principal

What is new in your building this school year?

First, we will have many new faces at HMS this fall. With retirements and some staff relocating to other states or districts, we have hired 12 new regular classroom teachers. All of our new hires come to the building with a great deal of experience, which is exciting. These new faces will allow HMS to grow as a learning community. In addition, we have made a schedule change to move our Advisory period to the beginning of the school day and seperate it from lunch/recess. This will allow our students to have a soft landing at school, build relationships and have a structured vehicle for some social skills instruction and academic review.

Are there any new programs/initiatives starting this year?

The one new program have implemented this year is our W.E.B. program (Where Everyone Belongs). This is a program aimed at improving the orientation process for our incoming sixth grade students. Through this program we have trained approximately 90 eighth grade students to run a half-day orientation for incoming sixth graders. They will be building relationships, gaining familiarity with the building and learning about the routines and protocols of HMS. Throughout the year, the eighth grade mentors will meet monthly with their sixth grade cohort to continue to support and assist them. Other than that, our focus will continue to be on improving our literacy instruction across all courses and grade levels.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

It has been a very long summer. I cannot wait to see the students' smiles and hear their laughter fill our hallways again! I also always look forward to the challenge of getting better every year, of finding strategies and supports that will allow students to grow and achieve at higher levels. Twenty-five years into my career, it is still as enjoyable as it has ever been!

Amy Hamborg, E.P. Rock Elementary principal

What is new in your building this school year?

We have 14 new staff (three times the usual number of new people); a renovated art and music room, AND renovated staff restrooms!

Are there any new programs/initiatives starting this year?

A continued focus on improving reading achievement for ALL students in "Professional Learning Communities" and a building focus on social/emotional learning.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

New faces and new stories! Returning staff coming back after a longer than usual summer with a renewed sense of energy, excitement and enthusiasm!

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

The building staff and students will change after this year due to elementary boundary redistricting so there is a new sense of "we" this year!

Joe Behnke, Hudson Prairie Elementary principal

What is new in your building this year?

We had a busy summer working on our outdoor spaces, installing a new recess shed, renovating our sidewalks to increase student safety, painting our playground (thank you Faith Community for volunteering the manpower) and sprucing up our landscaping. We also will have new striping on our parking lot to help direct traffic. Additionally, we are welcoming new staff members and we have had some staff members shift to new positions. Overall, our teachers, support staff and custodial staff have worked diligently to prepare Prairie for the new school year.

Are there any new programs or initiatives?

Our motto is "Be Kind." We are really focusing on connecting with our students and building relationships.

What are you most looking forward to?

Each new school year is like opening a present. The school is clean and ready for students and staff. I am most looking forward to when students return because the positive energy lifts up the entire building.

Kathleen Coppenbarger, River Crest Elementary principal

What is new in your building this school year?

We have a new outdoor classroom at River Crest we are very excited about as well as a new flexible learning lab which is replacing our stationary desktop computer lab! We are also welcoming three new teachers to River Crest.

Are there any new programs/initiatives starting this year?

We will have a continued focus on giving students a strong foundation as readers and working collaboratively as teaching teams to help maximize student learning. River Crest will also have a focus to Inspire, Empower, Act, and Share Kindness.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Connecting with students, families and staff after a longer than usual summer!

Kimberly Osterhues, Willow River Elementary principal

What is new in your building this school year?

We are celebrating being 100 years old this year. We are having an Open House on Saturday, Oct. 6. We also are welcoming three new staff members to Willow River this year.

Are there any new programs/initiatives starting this year?

We will be focusing on "We choose Kindness" throughout this year. We will also be continuing our focus on strengthening our students' reading foundational skills.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

With the long summer break, I am anxious to again have the building filled with students and staff.

Susan Hellmers, Houlton Elementary principal

What is new in your building this school year?

The fourth and fifth grade students will be working with a local artist to design and build an Art Bench that will be located in the Loop Trail Trailhead park across the street from Houlton. This will be part of the St. Croix Valley Art Bench trail. We are very excited about the potential for this new gathering space!

Are there any new programs/initiatives starting this year?

The staff is working on building opportunities for outdoor learning experiences for students.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

We've been busy all summer getting things ready for the students to arrive! As a staff, we are focusing our efforts to work together to ensure high levels of learning for all students.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I am very grateful for the Houlton community. Our staff and community volunteers (Master Gardener, parents, community members and NHS students) work together to provide the best possible learning environment for our students.

Dolf Schmidt, North Hudson Elementary principal

What is new in your building this school year?

Over the summer, volunteers were able to repaint our old playground games and add some new ones. I can't wait to teach these play options to our students.

Are there any new programs/initiatives starting this year?

North Hudson Elementary is continuing its work collaborating as professional learning communities to support high levels of learning for all our students.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I'm eager to meet our new students and get to know them as individuals and learners.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

North Hudson Elementary loves volunteers, we encourage families/community members to get involved in our school and share their gifts.

Alison Johnson, Trinity Academy principal

What is new in your building this school year?

Trinity Academy is excited to have turf installed this year on our front play area. We also have lots of new equipment for Physical Education.

A new Mimio system in our science lab was installed.

Are there any new programs/initiatives starting this year?

We are excited about a new STEM program in our K-8 classes that has a focus on STEM careers for our middle school age students.

This year Trinity will have an addition of 2 HSD 4k classrooms in our preschool.

We are excited about our new staff additions including a new 4K teacher, Spanish teacher and a middle school social studies teacher.

This year we will be hosting a cross country meet for the first time and looking forward to having the local public schools enter the meet.

We added many electives to our middle school this year including; Forensics, Geo Politics, Computer Programming and Warrior Wellness.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I am looking forward to the first day of school and welcoming our new and returning families. It is a delight to be the principal of Trinity Academy which is full of amazing, committed teachers and staff working in partnership with families to provide a strong educational foundation for children.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Trinity Academy is a pre-school through eighth grade school that focuses on providing academic excellence and developing leaders who love God, love others and serve the world.

Karen Vivian, St. Patrick School Director of Development

What is new in your building this school year?

Renovated our gymnasium and all middle school classrooms

We have removed our existing ceiling tile system completely and have changed over to an industrial finished ceiling. In addition, we have added ceiling fans for improved air circulation. All of the gym was repainted.

Middle school classrooms were painted and new countertops were installed. We have updated all classroom furniture to meet the needs of all students. We have new workstations suited for the need of the curriculum in the classrooms. We have replaced all chairs with new chairs or stools depending on the workstation.

We've restored our library back to its original size.

We have added another section of kindergarten to meet the needs of our growing enrollment and have welcomed Mrs. Audrey Johnson as our new Kindergarten teacher.

Are there any new programs/initiatives starting this year?

All staff are being trained in Responsive Classroom to enhance the use of our Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports system.

We will be implementing both new writing and health curriculums.

We have also updated our math curriculum for several grades.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Welcoming our students back to our updated school! We are looking forward to seeing them work with ease in their improved environments. Meeting all of our new students and growing our Saint Patrick Family, our enrollment continues to grow and we are very excited to welcome so many new students and families throughout every grade level.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(651) 301-7849
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