2006-09-09 / Top News

77 Students Celebrate School Start with Picnic

Teachers Negotiating For New Contract
By Ryan Schlehuber

Trace Dominguez, an interpreter at Fort Mackinac, dressed in an 1800s soldiers uniform, leads elementary students on a march to the lunch line on the school playground during Mackinac Island Public School's traditional back-to-school barbecue Tuesday, September 5. There are 77 enrolled students this year at the K-12 school. Trace Dominguez, an interpreter at Fort Mackinac, dressed in an 1800s soldiers uniform, leads elementary students on a march to the lunch line on the school playground during Mackinac Island Public School's traditional back-to-school barbecue Tuesday, September 5. There are 77 enrolled students this year at the K-12 school. Parents, teachers, community supporters, and Mackinac Island Public School's student body of 77 celebrated the first day of school with a barbecue Tuesday, September 5. Following morning orientation, elementary students were greeted in the hallway by Fort Mackinac interpreter Trace Dominguez and city police officer John Beam, who marched them outside where food prepared by school cook Donna Killips and games awaited.

The high school students soon joined them, and teachers, parents, and residents joined for lunch.

Afterwards, John Kissane, pianist for Mission Point Resort, entertained the student body with a concert in the school gymnasium. He also serenaded school secretary Barb Fisher, who was celebrating her birthday that day.

"I never had a first day of school with a barbecue before," said Dr. Roger Schrock, the school's new superintendent. He was impressed with attendance by so many residents who don't have children enrolled in the school.

Dr. Roger Schrock (right), the school's new superintendent, chats with Island residents Chuck and Marsha Kleber, who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary Friday, September 8. Dr. Roger Schrock (right), the school's new superintendent, chats with Island residents Chuck and Marsha Kleber, who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary Friday, September 8. "It was a delight to see such a great turnout today," he said. "It's refreshing to see so much support for the school. I met a lot of great people today."

High school mathematics teacher Susan Bennett agreed, saying, "It was a wonderful turnout. Seeing that many people there, it really makes you feel a part of the community."

She and elementary teacher Vicki Urman have taught here for 20 years and are the most senior members of the faculty. School secretary Barb Fisher and elementary teacher Karen Allen have been at the school for 19 years.

There will be at least three students in each class this year, including four kindergarten students, Makenna Horricks, Alexandra and Nicholas Pokora, and Aaron Riggs, and three seniors, Kristi Kamphuis, Joshua Richards, and Scott Roguska.

Seventh-grader Devin Hunt is one of the 77 students who enjoyed lunch outside on the school playground. The food was prepared by school cook Donna Killips. Seventh-grader Devin Hunt is one of the 77 students who enjoyed lunch outside on the school playground. The food was prepared by school cook Donna Killips. Last year, the school had no second-graders, and the three third-graders this year are all new students on Mackinac.

Joining the faculty is Seth Baker of Midland, who will teach high school social studies, elementary music, and wood shop. Mary Patay returns as the physical education teacher after spending the last three years at the University of Northern Colorado earning a doctorate in secondary physical education. Julie Fisher will assist special education teacher Andrea Mc- Clintock this year as an aide.

The school board continues to negotiate a new contract with the teachers. The board wants teachers to share additional costs for medical insurance to make up for increasing premiums. Insurance coverage for each individual is estimated to cost about $10,000, said Paul Wandrie, a school board member and chairman of the board's negotiations committee.

Two of the four kindergarten newcomers to Mackinac Island School, Alexandra Pokora, 5, (on top of the ball) and Makenna Horricks, 4, enjoyed playing at the school barbecue. Two of the four kindergarten newcomers to Mackinac Island School, Alexandra Pokora, 5, (on top of the ball) and Makenna Horricks, 4, enjoyed playing at the school barbecue. Board Chairman Ben Mosley, who is also a member of the committee, said in the last contract, the school district paid 100 percent of the premium.

"If you look around the state, a lot of school districts are going to other insurance companies to find lower rates," said Mr. Wandrie. "I think we're in pretty good shape with our insurance coverage, mainly because of our fund equity, but who knows how long we can continue that way."

Committee members Wandrie, Mosley, and Jason St. Onge are awaiting a response from the teachers' union as to what teachers would like to see in the contract. In the meantime, the teachers are working under the old contract, which expired in June.

Mr. Wandrie said once the teachers contract is agreed to, the committee can look at the contracts for the rest of the staff.

Students will be preparing for new approaches to the everchanging Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP), which will be soon replaced with a new system of high school assessments called the Michigan Merit System. Testing will begin in March.

The state, said Dr. Schrock, is aligning its testing with national systems like the American Comprehensive Test (ACT), which is designed to assess high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work.

"It's more of the state smoothing out the No Child Left Behind program," explained Dr. Schrock.

"We've had good success with our MEAP scores, but we still have work to do," he said. School administrators continue

to improve student health by removing the gum vending machine from the hallway. Next to go is the pop machine, which will be replaced with a vending machine that offers water, juice, and Gatorade.

Last year, the school graduated nine students, one of its larger senior classes, and school secretary Barb Fisher said there is great potential this year for secondary students to step into leadership roles.

"I would like to see a good year where we develop good leaders from the high school end of the building," she said. "There is potential there, we just have to build it."

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