Students head back to class next week<br>

For the second straight year, Grand Canyon School heads into the fall semester with very few teaching changes. Only one new full-time teacher joins the staff — Mike Syrkel in computer technology.

First-year principal Bob Kelso said the low turnover speaks well of the situation at Grand Canyon.

“It’s evidence of people who are pleased to be here, I would say,” Kelso said.

There have been a few other changes. Judy Alston, who may be a familiar face through her substitute teaching, will be the new English Language Learners instructor, a two-day-a-week position. Other changes include Lynn Alarcon moving from ELL to first grade, Kay Mathijssen going from Title I to sixth grade and Steve Sisson moving from the elementary computer lab to Title I.

Kelso, who arrived on campus in mid-July from a principal’s job in Delaware, said he would like to see more parent involvement locally.

“We hope to plan events either social or education-related to have folks come visit us,” Kelso said. “What we’ll do ... is challenge parents to spend at least eight hours in our school, whatever the circumstances or occasion they can. That’s not a huge number, I know parents who will do eight hours in a week and that’s great.”

Kelso said another area targeted for improvement is communication.

“We’ll get a newsletter home and do some refinements on our Web page to let parents know what’s going on,” he said.

The school district also has a new face in Sheila Breen, who arrived July 1. Breen and Kelso both have said curriculum will be the No. 1 priority on their agendas heading into the fall.

Classes will begin at the same time. Students will not be allowed on campus until 7:40 a.m., which coincides with the bus schedule. The breakfast program returns this year. Lunch prices will remain the same.

For a complete rundown of policies, see the student handbook that was distributed during registration.

Student dropoff, pickup

School officials urge parents to be safe when going to and from school. They offer the following tips in the areas of loading and unloading.

Parents dropping off and picking up students are requested to do so only from the designated loading and unloading zones in front of the school. Delivering or picking up children in back of the school causes congestion with buses.

To use the zone correctly, parents are asked to approach the school from the west on Boulder Street. That allows students to exit vehicles from the right side, allowing them to move directly onto the walkway without being exposed to Boulder Street traffic. A sign is posted on the north side of Boulder Street reminding parents to not unload children on that side of the street.

Additionally, all parking has been removed from Boulder Street to reduce congestion. Staff and visitor parking will be permitted in designated areas.

Drivers are asked to not park diagonally in these zones as many have done in the past. Vehicles should stop in the zones while remaining parallel to Boulder Street and the walkway.

For bus pickup and dropoff times and locations, see the graphic on this page.

The first day of school was moved up to Aug. 18 this year to allow finals to be taken before the holiday break. The move was designed to also help students who transfer in or out at mid-year. With that change, spring break will occur a week later (March 29-April 4) and school lets out for the summer on May 20.

Classes run Aug. 18-28 before the Labor Day holiday on Sept. 1.

Following is a list of other holidays on the school calendar this year:

• Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day.

• Nov. 27-28, Thanksgiving, no school (school dismissed after half day on Nov. 27).

• Dec. 19-Jan. 4, Winter break.

• Jan. 19, Martin Luther King Day.

• Feb. 16, President’s Day.

• March 29-April 4, Spring break.

The last day of school for 2003-04 will be May 20. The eighth-grade promotion and high-school graduation ceremonies are scheduled for May 21 at the El Tovar Hotel portico.

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