Schools will resume classes this week and next, and there will be plenty of new offerings as students return in Ladysmith, Flambeau, Bruce, Lake Holcombe, Chetek-Weyerhaeuser and other area school systems.

Ladysmith starts school with a special summer school session beginning Tuesday, Aug. 27. This is the second year for the sessions that are voluntary for attendance but many families take advantage and get their children to school early to meet new teachers and get settled.

A major change this year in Ladysmith will be free lunches and breakfast for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

A behavioral intervention specialist also has been added at the elementary school. This position is replacing the school social work position from last year.  

“It is very difficult to find a school social worker in this area, so we decided to widen the search and look for someone that can support students who need interventions for behavior,” Stunkel said.

This position has been filled by Morgan Webster. She will go into classrooms to collect data and then provide interventions and support for those students. The interventionist role is about building relationships with and supporting students throughout the day.

“She is there to de-escalate behavior and provide positive feedback,” Stunkel said.

The elementary school will have free breakfast and lunch to all students this year. This is the first year to provide free lunch for all elementary students. Students will still need to fill out free and reduced lunch applications in order to receive free milk during the afternoon milk break.

“Free lunch for all students is possible because we qualify for the Community Eligibility Program,” Stunkel said.

The Community Eligibility Provision is a non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas. CEP allows the nation’s highest poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without collecting household applications. Instead, schools that adopt CEP are reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students categorically eligible for free meals based on their participation in other specific means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Security cameras also were installed in the elementary school over the summer. This was made possible from the Department of Justice grant to increase school safety and security.

The elementary school policy regarding field trips has changed at the elementary school. All students must ride the bus to the field trip. The student can only go home from the field trips with a parent or guardian.  The parent or guardian must sign out their child with the teacher. No student will be allowed to go home with anyone other than the parent or guardian at the close of a field trip.

At Ladysmith Middle & High School, the “new” emphasis will be on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS.

“We are adding incentives for students displaying positive behaviors and have begun working with community businesses to recognize our students who are demonstrating positive behaviors and maintaining their academic progress in the classroom,” Principal Greg Posewitz said.

A Privilege System is being put into place to reward and acknowledge these students, according to Posewitz.

“We are also implementing a no cell phone policy in classrooms,” Posewitz said. “As a result, cell phones should remain in school bags, lockers, cell phone holders in classrooms, off or on silent mode, throughout class time.”

This is a change from previous years when teachers set individual policies within their classrooms. All teachers will have a consistent policy, supported by a progressive administrative policy to reinforce it.

As a technology forward school, the middle and high school building wants to help to teach and promote appropriate digital citizenship.

“Our school staff has overwhelmingly agreed that a consistent school-wide policy to bar cell phone use during class time will help students stay more present and engaged in their learning. The intent is to support them in their academic success, removing a major temptation and distraction, and promoting face to face social interaction and connection,” Posewitz said.

Research has repeatedly observed that a cell phone on a desk, even when in use as a research tool, still provides too tempting a distraction, according to Posewitz. Studies also show it can take the brain up to 10 minutes to re-engage after responding to cell phone distraction.

“Cell phones are not merely distractions for their owners in the classroom, but can also be a distraction for teachers and classmates alike,” Posewitz said.

High school students who maintain their privileges will be able to use their phones between classes, during lunch, and other specified times of the school day.

Another privilege high school students will have is being able to wear hats. Middle school students will be able to earn these privileges in different ways.

 The first day of school for students in Bruce is Tuesday, Sept. 3.

A new change for Bruce High School will be the trimester schedule with a 6-period day.  

“We will have the CEP breakfast and lunch program for our elementary students,” School District Administrator Pat Sturzl said.

Bruce schools will have six new staff members when classes resume this fall.

“Staff are beginning to return to their classrooms to prepare for the school year. They will have three days of staff development this week Tuesday through Thursday,” Sturzl said.

The open house for Bruce School students and families is Wednesday, Aug. 28, from 4 to 7 p.m.

At Flambeau, the first day of the Falcon Jumpstart Summer School is Tuesday, Aug. 27. The first official day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 3.

“We are excited to have our students back in our building,” School District Administrator Erica Schley said.

Falcon Jumpstart will be held on Aug. 27-29th.  These three days are designed to kick-off the new school year and welcome students back from summer vacation. Buses will pick up and drop off students as they do during the regular school year. There will be free lunch and breakfast, fun activities, classroom supplies and books will be distributed and students will meet their teachers, coaches and advisers.

“We look forward to seeing students on Tuesday, Aug. 27 to start the regular school season off on the right foot,” Schley said.

Schley added she is looking forward to a great year with all staff.  

“We will be focusing much of our work around a book study, Visible Learning for Teachers, by John Hattie. Together, we will gain an awareness of habits of mind that contribute to positive impact on student learning.  We will reflect on techniques on how to implement instructional practices to significantly and positively impact student achievement.”

Much of Schley’s summer work with the school board revolved around reflecting on and refreshing the school’s mission and vision.  

“At Flambeau we build partnerships with families and the community. We provide a safe environment for our students. We promote academic, creativity, and social learning. We challenge our students to reach his or her full potential,” Schley said.

The Lake Holcombe School District will host an open house from 5-8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 28. School starts on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The first day in the Chetek-Weyerhaeuser School District with students is Wednesday, Aug. 29.

The Birchwood School District has been awarded a mental health grant. Initially, school officials were notified the grant was not funded, but when the state biennial budget was approved with increased funding from $3.25 million to $6.5 million for the competitive mental health grants, it was awarded.

“This is exciting news for the district,” School District Administrator Diane Johnson said.

The funds will be used through a partnership with Washburn Health and Human Services. With some financial support through them and with the addition of grant funds, the school district hired a school-to-home specialist.

The primary role of this specialist is to receive referrals from school personnel and assist students, families and the school overcome barriers that interfere with learning through the use of assessment, school planning, parent engagement, consultation and coordination of school and community resources.  

“Both the Shell Lake School District and the Spooner School District have a part-time person working in this capacity and both programs have been successful in engaging students and families.  We look forward to providing the same opportunities in the Birchwood School District,” Johnson said.

The Educational Foundation of Birchwood announced last week that the Cleveland family is going to provide a up-to-three-year $500,000 match for the Foundation’s Endowment Fund. The Cleveland family is the same family that provided a $1 million match for Hunt Hill.

Due to high poverty, the district is offering a “Grab and Go 2nd Chance Breakfast” to middle and high school students. That means if students did not have a chance to have breakfast before school at either school or at home they will be able to get healthy breakfast foods before second hour classes.  Our goal is to ensure that all students are fed and ready to learn.

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