2008-08-30 / Top News

75 Students To Celebrate First Day of School With Picnic

By Ryan Schlehuber

Seventy-five students will start school on Mackinac Island at 8:20 a.m. Tuesday, September 2. At noon, the annual Back-toschool Picnic will be held on the playground.

The community is welcome to join in celebrating the new school year by having lunch with the students.

A new twist to the traditional event for the students will be a visit to Fort Mackinac at 1 p.m.

As usual, the number of students enrolled at the beginning of the year is higher than the winter count, as parents complete their seasonal work on the Island. By November, a more accurate count of the student body is known, and is expected to be in the mid-60s.

For now, student numbers are higher, especially in Vicki Urman's kindergarten class, where there are 12 students enrolled, compared to last year's three students.

There may be as many as 15 preschoolers for Jody Barna's class this year. The preschool is operated and funded by Mackinac County Community Action and the state's Head Start program. Classes are held in the school, only a few lockers down from the kindergarten class.

The large number of young students "bodes well for our future," said Superintendent Roger Schrock, since, like every other school in Michigan, Mackinac Island has been impacted by declining enrollment over the years.

The senior class is larger than usual, with nine students. Seniors this year include Darcy Brodeur-Bunker, Robert Chambers, Fuller Cowell, Michael Gamble, Arial Leeper, Tyler McLean, Shayleen Mosley, Rhodene "Michi" Mullings, and Danielle Wightman. Last year, a class of six was graduated.

The school welcomes its new high school science teacher, Richard Waite, who fills the position vacated by Jeff Ferguson.

Mr. Waite, of Cheboygan, was teaching in Mackinaw City before he accepted the Island position. He will also serve as the senior class sponsor, helping the class raise funds for its senior trip.

Mary Patay will be the school's co-ed soccer coach once again, replacing Ken Straight. Ms. Patay, also the school's physical education teacher, resigned from coaching in 2002 to pursue a college doctorate, which she earned two years ago. She assisted Mr. Straight last year.

Her overall record as head coach with the Lakers is 71-46- 1, a 0.602 winning percentage. She has won four Northern Light League titles and led the team to a District 64 title in 2002, only the second one in school history. The first one was with the 1974 girls basketball team, coached by former teacher Jack Dehring.

Ms. Patay will also lead the Lakers girls basketball team again this year. The program was brought back last year owing to changes to the state's sports seasons that left the Island with no winter sports.

In its first year of play since 1990, the girls team finished 11- 10 overall, a feat for the team with only seven players, ranging from seventh grade to 11th grade. Ms. Patay is also teaching a new course for juniors and seniors called life skills, an advanced home economics course.

This year, the school offers an online program, called Power School, that allows parents to go onto the Internet to check their child's progress in class.

"The program allows teachers to put grades and assignments in daily," said Dr. Schrock. "Parents can go online and see that their child has an assignment due or track how well they are doing in each course."

High school students and teachers will be involved in a new English language and arts curriculum, the Michigan Merit Curriculum, followed by most schools in the state, said teacher Lance Greenlee. He said the new curriculum will make it easer for students to transfer, teachers and state analysts to compare grades and test results with the rest of the state, and may improve ACT and Michigan Merit Exam results for Island students.

Island resident Allison Sehoyan will be offering fall dance classes for students in the school's multipurpose room, beginning Wednesday, September 3. The instructor will be Jo Cooley. For students in kindergarten through second grade, class begins at 3:20 p.m. For the rest of the students, class begins at 4 p.m. Students can sign up in the school office. Fall dance classes will be held until October 23. Those who participate are encouraged to wear workout clothes.

High school social studies teacher Seth Baker will offer a wood shop class, one program the board of education is trying to bring back.

"I'm looking forward to a good year," said Dr. Schrock. "We have great support for our students from teachers and parents, and I'm looking forward to having them back in the school."

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