2014-08-30 / News

Picnic to Open School Year Will Honor Allen

By Stephanie Fortino

Classes on Mackinac Island for the 2014-2015 school year will begin bright and early Tuesday morning, September 2. The annual celebration community picnic will be held at noon on the schoolyard in honor of retired teacher Karen Allen. Community members are encouraged to join the event with students, teachers, and parents.

Ms. Allen retired last school year after teaching at Mackinac Island Public School for 25 years. During her tenure, she taught special education, secondary education, and elementary school, covering a variety of subjects and ages. She was also active in establishing the Travel Club and Community Theater.

After the picnic, the middle school and high school students will attend a talk about depression and mental health given by retired Detroit Lions quarterback Eric Hipple. The talk is one of 20 free presentations Mr. Hipple will give to schools throughout the state this fall. Mr. Hipple has given the talk to students of all ages for the past 10 years.

While the halls of Mackinac Island Public School stood empty Tuesday, August 26, preparations for the new school year were well underway, said Superintendent David Waaso.

The week before classes resume, the teachers attended professional development workshops at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie Wednesday, August 27. Thursday, August 28, was filled with staff meetings on the Island and classroom preparations. Over the weekend, Mr. Waaso expected the teachers to continue settling in, getting ready for a new academic year.

“We’ll be ready to go,” Mr. Waaso told the Town Crier.

Some new faces around the school this year will be three teachers and a student teacher, who will all live on the Island. Alisa Sackett of St. Ignace will be the new kindergarten and first grade teacher. Piotr Buniewcz will teach the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade English and social studies. Taylor Sprindorf will be the new kindergarten through 12th grade special education teacher. Andrew Doerr will complete his student teaching for Lake Superior State University under the tutelage of secondary mathematics teacher Susan Bennett.

Students and parents may notice other changes at the school, including new lockers in the elementary school. Previously, the younger students used short, stacked lockers, which created crowded situations, especially in the winter as students tried to wrangle and stuff winter coats, snow pants, and other clothing into the small lockers.

Now, the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders will have their own sections of lockers.

“We decided to spread it out,” Mr. Waaso said. “”It’ll make it feel like they’ve got their own space. It will be nice for them.”

Other improvements included freshly painted classroom doors, a new heating unit for food in the lunch line, waxed gymnasium floors, and new security lighting outside. Changes still yet to be completed are installing a new handicap doorclosing mechanism.

Another change this year will be an increase in the price of lunch, which the Board of Education approved Thursday, August 21. The price will increase 10¢ from $1.80 to a $1.90 per meal for students.

This is consistent with provisions in the federal Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010, which the school is behind in implementing, Mr. Waaso added.

Mr. Waaso explained the intent of gradually increasing lunch prices is “catching schools up with the actual cost of the meal.”

The school board also agreed to keep the operating millage request the same at 7.8 mills, which will come up for renewal this November.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 18, at 6 p.m. in the school library.

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