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Schools start year with changes

From Staff Reports Published: August 5, 2001
New schools, administrators, class schedules and ways to keep cool will greet metro area school students as a new school year approaches.

Community contacted many school districts to find out what students and parents can expect as classes fill once again. Here is a compilation of changes planned for the coming year:

Several students who live in and near Arcadia will attend classes in a different school district this year.

Residents in the area voted to send those students living in the 48.5-square-mile area in and around Arcadia to Edmond and Luther schools instead of Oklahoma City schools. The area had been part of the Oklahoma City School District, but the three districts agreed to an annexation proposal with voter approval.

"We're not going to call them 'Arcadia kids.' They're our kids now," W.B. Wilson, superintendent of Luther Schools, said of the six youths from the Arcadia area who have enrolled in the Luther district.

Students living east of Anderson Road will attend Luther schools, while those living west of the boundary will go to Edmond schools. Students in the Arcadia area had attended Arcadia Elementary School in Arcadia and Hoover Middle and John Marshall High schools in Oklahoma City. Come Aug. 15, they'll attend Cross Timbers, Will Rogers and Chisholm Elementary schools; Sequoyah, Central and Cimarron Middle schools; and Edmond North and Edmond Memorial High schools.

An Edmond school spokeswoman said most of the students from the Arcadia area, about 34, took advantage of a pre-enrollment period at the end of the last school year. She said principals of the three elementary schools called parents of the Arcadia area students individually and arranged to give them tours of their new schools.

Meanwhile, Edmond's Cheyenne Middle School, which opened for sixth-graders last year, will open its doors to seventh-graders, beginning the school year with 11 new seventh-grade classrooms this year, said Principal Debbie Bendick.

The school will also add three new music classrooms. Bendick said the school's gymnasium is scheduled to be completed sometime in November. The school will also have interscholastic sports for the first time this year.

In the Oklahoma City School District, students will be allowed to bring a sports bottle full of water to class as temperatures are expected to remain high during the first portion of the school year. To combat the heat, Barbara Smith, RN and the Oklahoma City School District's administrator of Health and Medicaid Services, said youths are encouraged to bring a sports bottle of water that can be refilled throughout the day. Youths also should wear lightweight, loose, cool clothing, she said.

"Even though the rooms are air-conditioned, when the heat index is high, it doesn't matter it's hot," Smith said.

Students will be allowed to drink water in class at their desks during periods of high temperatures, she said. Smith emphasized that parents don't have to buy bottled water to send to school with their child. A sports bottle container with a lid on it one that can be refilled when necessary will be adequate, she said.

Smith said parents are asked to talk to their children about exercising or playing less vigorously during recess and should notify the principal, school nurse or teacher of health conditions that make exposure to heat dangerous.

Meanwhile, Putnam City middle school students can expect a new program as part of their schedules this year, said spokesman Steve Lindley.

Students at all of Putnam City's middle schools will have an "advisory period" every day, Lindley said. Students will meet with an advisor in a small group for about 20 minutes.

Lindley said the goal is for students to meet with a caring adult and other students to talk about issues affecting them. With more communication, the chance of violence can be lessened, he said.

Guthrie students will welcome a new superintendent this year. Max L. Townsend, 56, left his position as superintendent for Cache Public Schools, near Lawton, to become Guthrie's new superintendent at the beginning of July. He was named the Guthrie Public Schools superintendent in April.

Townsend was a teacher and coach in Guthrie in the 1970s. Don Bowman, who had been the district's superintendent for seven years, retired at the end of June.

Some Deer Creek students who attended Deer Creek Elementary School last year instead will go to Prairie Vale Elementary School this year, due to elementary boundary changes intended to level out enrollment at the Deer Creek School District's two elementary schools.

The district also is building a new Deer Creek Elementary School building, scheduled to open some time this year.

Students attending the alternative school program in Shawnee will have a new place to learn when they move the existing alternative school, which serves about 120 students, to the three-story middle school vacated early this year.

The old middle school, at 501 N Union, was vacated when middle school students got a new school last March. The former middle school has a gymnasium and an Internet accessible computer lab, both things the alternative school hasn't had readily available.

Students in the Choctaw-Nicoma Park School district will pay 10 cents more per meal this year at both the elementary and secondary schools.

The cost of elementary breakfast was increased to 80 cents and lunch to $1.55. Secondary breakfast was increased to 85 cents and lunch to $1.70.

Midwest City High School students will be able to visit the newest addition to their campus when school resumes.

A new museum, which houses Bomber memorabilia and promotes the school's heritage, is set up in the old high school lobby in front of the old gymnasium. It will operate regular business hours.

Although not completely finished, organizers are hoping for a September grand opening.

The museum is funded through grants from the Midwest City Hospital Authority and the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and money from the school district.

Junior high students in Harrah will enter a new school building that will alleviate overcrowding problems. Freshmen will move from the high school and eighth-graders from the middle school to a new building at 1480 N Dobbs.

The new building will include a media center and all the amenities included at the middle school, said Superintendent Dean Hughes. Lunches, however, will be prepared at another location and brought into the new school.

The $2.7 million to build the junior high was acquired from bond issues and lease purchases.

Mike Clifton will be the principal. Clifton has been an assistant principal at Harrah High School for the last year and a half.

Piedmont schools officials thought last spring they might be able to move students in classes nine through 12 into the new high school building. However, lack of parking will thwart such a move. Freshman and sophomores will attend school in the new building while juniors and seniors will remain in the old facility. Last year, only freshman attended school in the new building.

"It ended up we just don't have enough parking to handle that load," said Piedmont Superintendent Mike Hyatt.

Piedmont is building its new high school in three phases. Two are complete, and the final phase will be finished in July 2002. A new parking lot will be part of the third phase.

Piedmont High School also has a new principal this fall former assistant principal Todd Garrison.

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