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August 14, 2012

Area schools ready for first day

DUNCAN — Over the next two weeks, area schools will start up classes for the 2012-13 school year.

All but two school districts start classes this week. The schools that do start back this week won’t do so until Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

Schools starting back to class Wednesday include Bray-Doyle, Central High and Velma-Alma. Marlow students will get back to learning Thursday. And Comanche will round the week by beginning school Friday.

Duncan and Empire districts will begin their year next week. Empire will kick off the school year Monday, while Duncan students won’t head back to class until Wednesday, Aug. 22.

Each of the school districts has tackled several academic and maintenance projects throughout the summer to enhance curriculum or improve buildings. For instance, Duncan Public Schools is working to train its teachers for the switch over from PASS Objectives to Core Curriculum.

At Velma-Alma, V-A High School Principal Mike Thompson is ready to get the school year started and said his staff feels the same way.

“We’re ready to go,” Thompson said. “We could have started class today (Monday), but we didn’t have any kids.”

Some of the projects Velma-Alma has tackled included re-paving the parking lot in front of the high school, and adding new lighting systems to the softball and football fields.

He said this looks to be a good year with the inclusion of several new employees, including a new transportation director. Thompson said there are 12 to 15 new students enrolled at the high school.

Empire has made many improvements at its school campus.

Empire Superintendent Vicki Davison and Empire Elementary Principal Josh Skiles said all of the restrooms on campus have been renovated and the school district will soon be adding a safe room and connected pre-kindergarten building.

“We try to get things done all the time,” Davison said. The theme for Empire students’ return to school is “Surfing to Success.”

Skiles said the elementary students have made a noticeable improvement in state testing. The score included a more than 80 percent sufficiency in mathematics and nearly 70 percent sufficiency in reading. Science also was high with a sufficiency of almost 90 percent.

“It took everybody to make that happen,” Davison said.

They attributed several things to the success on state testing. While students and teachers were acknowledged for their hard work, Skiles said smaller class sizes and new curriculum might have played an important role, too.

He said the school will continue to focus on math, but will also turn more focus on improving reading scores.

“It’s a good time to be an Empire Bulldog,” Davison said.

As summer vacation draws to a close, the schools are ready (or quickly getting there) to ensure all students will have a productive area to learn in.

Thompson is ready to get the school year started and knows the students will be, too.

“Most of the time, those first few weeks let you know how your year is going to go,” Thompson said.

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