More than 60,000 local students back to school today

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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First day at Lincoln Elementary

Reader Photos — First Day of School 2012

photoBecky Kornell, right, welcomes kindergartners to her class this morning on the first day of school at Lincoln Elementary.

(/The Columbian)

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More than 60,000 children in the Evergreen, Vancouver and Battle Ground districts were back in school Wednesday morning. But it wasn’t necessarily the first time they’ve been in their classrooms lately.

At Vancouver’s Lincoln Elementary School, where Principal Craig Homnick welcomed about 400 students, some of the introductory meet-and-greet work had been done Tuesday evening.

“We had our back-to-school night, when students could meet their teachers and find their classrooms,” Homnick said.

“We also had our ice cream social last night, so we could meet the families,” Homnick said Wednesday morning.

The families showing up for the start of classes at Lincoln reflected a range of comfort levels and familiarity. For some, the school has become part of the family.

Jennifer Severson’s family no longer lives in the Lincoln attendance area. However, “we did a transfer to keep our kids here,” said Severson, who accompanied Melissa Rouse as they walked their youngsters to the school at 4200 Daniels St.

Others are easing their way in. Rebecca Wescom-Farmer said her daughter is a newcomer at Lincoln. Sophia, a first-grader, had attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School.

“It’s a different environment,” Wescom-Farmer said — and not just for the children. “Last night, when the principal was talking, other parents were talking. At Our Lady of Lourdes, when the principal talked, the parents listened.”

The new year includes some new and expanded programs, as well as some people in new positions, in the county’s three largest districts.

B.G. adds to schools

Battle Ground Public Schools has added two more grade levels to its high-achieving CAM Academy. CAM (it stands for character, academics and marketplace) now includes third- and fourth-graders. Battle Ground’s alternative high school, Summit View, has added a middle- school program for seventh- and eighth-graders.

Another big change is under way at the Maple Grove campus. The primary and middle schools have been restructured into a single school serving 650 students, kindergarten through eighth grade. The combined June 2012 enrollment for the two former schools was 1,003. The Maple Grove restructuring was prompted by the failure to achieve “Adequate Yearly Progress” under the federal No Child Left Behind law, based on standardized test scores. Federal money is helping pay for some of the program improvements.

The school district also is expanding its full-day, tuition-based kindergarten after a pilot program last year at Maple Grove Primary. This year, it is offered at Maple Grove K-8 school, Tukes Valley Primary and Captain Strong Primary.

The district is consolidating its K-12 HomeLink program, which is based on parent partnerships. HomeLink Battle Ground is being folded into River HomeLink on the Maple Grove campus.

Vancouver’s STEM

Vancouver has opened its new magnet school for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Vancouver iTech Preparatory will begin with a split format. Sixth- and seventh-graders will be in a temporary facility at the Jim Parsley Education, Community and Family Center, 2901 Falk Road. The high school program (ninth-graders only) will temporarily be based at the Clark Center on the Washington State University Vancouver campus. When it is fully in place, Vancouver iTech Preparatory will serve students in grades 9 through 12 at one location.

Vancouver also is expanding its system of school-based family and community resource centers. With the addition of Hazel Dell, Minnehaha and Lincoln elementary schools, there are 11 sites.

And, construction work continues on Evergreen's Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School, which is on track to open in 2013.

School administrative changes

The following administrative changes have been announced for the county’s largest districts:

Battle Ground: Denny Waters, from assistant principal at Battle Ground High to school district director of special education; Bruce Kelley, from district director of assessment and research to district executive director of school improvement and first-year director of restructured Maple Grove K-8 School; Michelle Reinhardt, from assistant principal of Daybreak Primary to assistant principal of Maple Grove K-8; Lucinda Bancroft, from teacher on special assignment for district-wide student literacy to assistant principal at Maple Grove K-8; Barbara Baird, from principal at the former Maple Grove Primary to district director of student support services; Bill Penrose, from principal of the former Maple Grove Middle to principal at Summit View (alternative) High/Middle School; Allison Tuchardt, from coordinator in Learning Support Programs to assistant director of assessment and research.

Nealane Riem, from assistant principal at Maple Grove Primary to assistant principal at Pleasant Valley Primary; Peter Fallaw, from assistant principal at Maple Grove Middle to assistant principal at Daybreak Middle; Nick Krause, from assistant principal at Chief Umtuch Middle to assistant principal at Laurin Middle; Steve Hoskins, from assistant principal at Laurin Middle to assistant principal at Pleasant Valley Middle; Sue Fine, from assistant principal at both Pleasant Valley schools to assistant principal at Battle Ground High; Stephanie Watts, from physical education teacher at Washougal High to assistant principal at Prairie High; Ryan Cowl, from assistant principal at both Tukes Valley schools to full-time assistant principal at Tukes Valley Middle; Diane Castle, former reading intervention specialist, now assistant principal at Daybreak Primary; Susan Watson, former fourth-grade teacher and math specialist, now assistant principal at Tukes Valley Primary; Andy Schoonover, former seventh-grade teacher, and teacher and basketball coach at Battle Ground High to assistant principal at Chief Umtuch Middle School.

Vancouver: Mike Stromme is now associate superintendent for teaching and learning, replacing Christine Burgess, who retired. Stromme was associate superintendent and chief information officer and also served as the planning administrator for Vancouver iTech Preparatory. Lisa Greseth, manager of information and instructional technology, was named chief information officer. Mark Ray was named manager of information and instructional technology.

Christina Iremonger, former principal of Columbia River High School, is the new principal of Vancouver iTech Preparatory. Alex Otoupal, associate principal at Skyview High School, replaced her as principal of Columbia River. James Gray, a teacher at Skyview, was named associate principal at Skyview.

April Whipple, associate principal at Discovery Middle School, is principal at Peter S. Ogden Elementary School. She replaced Marcie Ramberg, who retired. Marjorie McCluer, associate principal at Gaiser Middle School, replaced Whipple as associate principal at Discovery. Greg Clark, associate principal at Wickenburg (Ariz.) High School, is associate principal at Gaiser.

Travis Bond, associate principal at Sarah J. Anderson Elementary School, is principal at Sacajawea Elementary. He replaces Tamarah Grigg, who joined the staff of iTech Preparatory. Patrick Conners, associate principal at McLoughlin Middle School, took Bond’s place as associate principal at Sarah J. Anderson. Megan Botnen, teacher at Skyview High School, replaced Conners as associate principal at McLoughlin.

Donna Jeffries, associate principal at Fort Vancouver High School, is now associate principal at Columbia River High School. She replaced Rick Wilson, who took the position of executive director of the Vancouver Education Association. Dirk Hansen, teacher at Mount Si High School in the Snoqualmie School District, was hired as associate principal at Fort Vancouver.

Marji Ruzicka was named associate principal at Fort Vancouver High School, replacing John Griffin, who resigned. Troy Winzer was named associate principal at McLoughlin Middle School. He replaced Lacey Griffiths, now in Longview.

Lori Rotherham, former associate principal at Evergreen’s Heritage High School, has taken the position of associate principal at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics. She replaces Patricia (Tish) Lilly, who retired.

Evergreen: Darcy Mitchelson is new principal of Burnt Bridge Creek Elementary School, replacing Jan Davey, who retired.

Tracy Schuster is new principal of Hearthwood Elementary. She is replacing Scott Munro, who is now the district’s director of elementary education. He replaces Tom Nadal, who will retire in December.

Jill Sorensen will be an assistant principal, splitting her time between Fisher’s Landing and Orchards elementary schools. Mari Schauer will split her time between Pioneer and Sunset elementary schools as an assistant principal.

At the middle school level, Maria Stevens is the new principal at Frontier Middle School after serving as associate principal at Mountain View High School. She replaces Lisa Wagner, who went to Cascade Middle School as principal, replacing Gary Price, now associate principal at Mountain View High School.

Mark Ross is the principal of Heritage High School, replacing Anne Sosky, who has been on an extended leave of absence. Ross, who most recently was the principal at Sam Barlow High School in Gresham, Ore., also has been a principal at Mountain View and Evergreen high schools.

Christen Palmer has been promoted from the dean of students to associate principal at Heritage High School, replacing Lori Rotherham, who took a position in Vancouver Public Schools.

Lynette Sundstrom is an associate principal at Union High School, replacing Julie Tumelty, who was moved to the IQ Academy and Evergreen Flex Academy as the principal. Sadie Pritchard is an associate principal at Mountain View High School, replacing Maria Stevens.

At the district level, Bruce Nashif was named executive director of human resources; Elisabeth Harrington is director of curriculum and instruction.