New school year brings sense of renewal and purpose

By Pixie Sulser

Regardless of anything else that goes on in education, one thing remains constant: the first day of school. The excitement, the nervous jitters, the dread, and the rush to get back on schedule are all part of this timeless event, which for Ramona students and staff begins on Monday, Aug. 27.

Olive Peirce Middle School Principal Linda Solis and Librarian Missy Cobian stand with U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter and others at the National Schools to Watch Convention in Washington, D.C., this summer. Photo Courtesy of Linda Solis

A fresh year brings a sense of renewal and purpose; the last year is reflected upon, new ideas are implemented, and goals are set. Several of Ramona’s schools have big changes in place with new personnel and adjusted schedules.

Ramona High School

At Ramona High School, families can expect a different start schedule in the sense that each school day will begin with first period. There are no longer the BACE days in which first period started a little later. Mondays will remain a late start time of 8:08 a.m., but on Tuesdays through Fridays, first period begins at 7:20 a.m.

“In an effort to provide additional time and support to our students, we have modified our schedule to include an extended learning time period during the school day rather than at the start of the day only two days a week,” explained RHS Principal Tony Newman. “This extended learning time will allow all students an opportunity to get focused instruction in a small group setting.”

Each school day ends at 2:15 p.m.

With former RHS assistant principal Dave Lohman’s move to Montecito High School as that school’s principal,  Antoinette Rodriguez, a former RHS teacher and coach, returns as RHS assistant principal after spending some time at the district office as a teacher on assignment. She joins Principal Newman and staff in the school’s continued emphasis on helping students become college and career ready.

“We want every student to be prepared for the post secondary path they choose to travel,” said Newman.

Montecito High School

As the new principal of Montecito High School and Future Bound, Dave Lohman plans to focus his staff on an ongoing effort to provide “avenues for our students to be placed in a community college, university and/or career pathway.” A variety of workshops sharing general college and career information, including the college application and placement test processes,  will be offered throughout the school year.

Montecito students need to be ready to learn each day at 7:45 a.m.

Olive Peirce

Middle School

At the middle school level, Olive Peirce starts the year off as a designated California School to Watch. In fact, Principal Linda Solis and OPMS librarian Missy Cobian represented OPMS and RUSD in Washington, D.C. this summer at the National Schools To Watch Convention, where they had the opportunity to meet with Congressman Duncan Hunter and his staff.

“We invited him to be a guest on OPT (Olive Peirce Today) this year,” shared Solis, referring to the school’s television show, “and he accepted! We look forward to his guest appearance!”

Camp Peirce for Kids kicks the school year off on Friday, Aug. 17,  from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the OPMS Performing Arts Center, 1521 Hanson Lane. Led by counselors Michele Mauney and Leslie Pequenaut, Camp Peirce is an opportunity for incoming seventh-graders to meet each other and “begin their middle school journey with a vision of success for the next two years.”

School days at OPMS are 7:50 a.m. to 2:10 p.m.

Elementary Schools

Ramona’s elementary sites are raring to go amidst new leadership, staff changes, and ongoing  attention to student achievement. Hanson Elementary and Barnett Elementary both welcome new principals. Ramona native Chris Gunnett mans the helm at Hanson, and longtime district employee Linda Ball takes the leadership reins at Barnett Elementary. Both are excited about their new positions in the RUSD community and have big plans for their respective schools.

Chris Gunnett listens as he is introduced as Hanson Elementary’s new principal during a recent school board meeting. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

Hanson Elementary

Gunnett, a former teacher at Mt. Woodson Elementary, has worked outside of the district for the past five years, most recently as a principal in Chula Vista. He says it feels great to be back in the RUSD community. He is excited about the staff, students and families of Hanson.

“We are ready to improve student achievement,” said Gunnett. “That is our focus this year, and we won’t be wavering from it.”

Hanson Elementary staff will greet their students each day at 8:30 a.m. The school day ends at 3:05 p.m. except Fridays, when the school day ends at 12:35 p.m.

Barnett Elementary

Along with a new principal, Barnett families will also meet Laura Vigneau in the front office. Vigneau replaces Lenore Slater, who retired. Ball describes Vigneau as someone who is kind, attentive and skillful, “assets that will keep our front office running smoothly.”

Six additional teachers are joining the Barnett staff. Tori Barlow and Susan Stanfield, previously at James Dukes Elementary, Holly Bisbikis, Adriana Soltero and Dan Wise from Hanson, and Goldie Kakacek from Ramona Community are now Barnett Bobcats!

“We are embracing all the changes,” said Ball. “We have an opportunity to look at things with new eyes and to continue the programs and strategies that promote growth and progress. Student learning is our focus. We believe in the motto: “Learning is MY responsibility, whatever it takes!”

The Barnett school day runs from 7:45 a.m. to 1:56 p.m. except on Compact Learning Days, which are the first Wednesday of each month, when school will end at 11:45 a.m.

Ramona Elementary

Ramona Elementary sails into the 2012-13 school year on a wave of success from 2012, when the school received the Title I Academic Achievement Award and was also named a California Business for Education Excellence Honor Roll School.

“Building on what we have accomplished, we will maintain our focus on the important work of ensuring high academic achievement for all students,” said Principal Phyllis Munoz.

At the sixth grade and kindergarten levels, there are plans to host family nights “to strengthen the home-school partnership.”  The programs will include accessing student academic performance through PowerSchool, as well as the school’s website and teacher pages. At the kinder level, parents will participate in make-it, take-it activities to extend learning at home and gain information regarding the importance of daily school attendance.

Ramona Elementary’s school hours are 8 a.m. to 2:05 p.m.

Mt. Woodson Elementary

“It’s going to be a great year!” exclaimed Mt. Woodson Principal Theresa Grace. “Our theme will continue to be a commitment to ‘No Excuses”’at Mt. Woodson, and we will continue our focus on college readiness for all students.”

The staff welcomes a new member in kindergarten teacher Ashli Krainock, who has been teaching at James Dukes Elementary.

The Mt. Woodson staff plans to move forward with integrating technology into its instructional programs as well as preparing for the beginning of the Common Core Standards breaking onto the horizon in 2014.

Class begins each day at 8:40 a.m. and ends at 3:10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays with a Compact Learning Day on Fridays, when school ends at 1:05 p.m.

James Dukes Elementary

Like Mt. Woodson, James Dukes Elementary is a “No Excuses” school, meaning the school community is committed to encouraging and believing in the ability of each and every student to be college ready. As the 2012-13 school year takes off, the JD staff remains focused on the mantra that “every student, without exception and without excuse, will meet or exceed academic standards in reading, writing, and math.”

Parents can stay in touch with JD events and news by following the school on its Facebook page and on Twitter. Information on both social media opportunities can be found on the school website.

Class times are 8:30 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, the student day ends at 12:45 p.m.

Ramona Community

Ramona Community School is home to Mountain Valley Academy and Montessori Academy. The RCS school day remains 8:05 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.

The school day for Montessori Academy students is from 8:05 a.m. to 2:35 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and ends at 12:05 p.m. on Wednesdays. Half-day kindergarten ends each school day at 12:05 p.m.

Mountain Valley Academy High School students may check out books on Monday, Aug. 27, but classes will not begin until Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Book check-out for MVA K-8 students is Friday, Aug. 24. The week of Aug. 27-31 is a total at home week with on site classes beginning Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Class lists will be posted at all elementary sites by 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24.

Related posts:

  1. School district ends banner year of honors, awards
  2. Spring Open House dates set at Ramona public schools
  3. School employees start school year at convocation
  4. Barnett Elementary celebrates with Ice Cream Social May 24
  5. Barnett Elementary earns state Distinguished School honor

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Aug 21 2012. Filed under Featured Story, News, Ramona, Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

4 Comments for “New school year brings sense of renewal and purpose”

  1. scoochin

    They neglected to be so enthusiastic about their cuts (at Mt. Woodson, at least) to the K-3 staff that will balloon class size from the low 20's to the low 30's. The district and school decided to take "the fine" rather than spend the money to retain/hire enough teachers. So maybe the correct title of this article should be "New year brings sense of plummeting educational quality to the youngest students of Ramona". The salary of just ONE district assistant superintendant from this top heavy and over-compensated administration would pay for at least two teachers. And they will ba asking us in November to approve a $66 million bond? For what? You can bet that it will include the cost of redecorating their administrative offices while our children choke in hideously overcrowded classrooms. Are you listening, Dr. Graeff?

  2. lisabried@cox.net

    If you want them to open new elementary classrooms and lower class size you must vote yes on the bond. The choice to pays the fine or pay for another classroom to open up was a case of the lesser of two evils….they had to pick the choice that cost the district the least amount of money. I agree with you that they need to downsize the number of assistant suoer's. But I disagree with you about voting no on the bond. The goal should be to open more classrooms at the elementary level. Ramona will need to vote yes for the bond to make this happen.

    • sandra j

      Lisa,
      We have excess elementary-level classrooms, so we don't need to build more. The bond proceeds may not be used for salaries to hire more teachers. How does passing the bond lead to smaller class sizes?

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