New school year means many changes at Kennedy

by Cori Hilsgen

Kennedy Community School Principal Judy Nagel said there is a lot happening at Kennedy during the summer and many great things are coming for the 2014-15 school year.

The student day has increased for all grades, kindergarten-eighth grade. The school day will begin at 7:35 a.m. and end at 2:20 p.m. Staff hours are 7:15 a.m.-3 p.m. Buses will begin arriving at Kennedy at 7:20 a.m.

The earlier school start brings some changes for the breakfast program. The program will begin a weekly breakfast menu where students can get a grab-and-go breakfast meal in the cafeteria and eat it in their classrooms.

In addition to the primary lunch served each day, the lunch program will offer a salad bar for students in fourth-eighth grades. Because of lack of interest, some sandwich choices previously offered three days each week will no longer be offered.

The milk/juice district-provided options with snack will also be discontinued. Teachers will continue to have snack breaks in their room as they have in the past and will address beverage and water breaks as needed. Parents will continue to have the option to add money to their child’s lunch account through the Skyward student management computer software program.

Parents will sign up for fall conferences through the Skyward program. Information on how to do this will be reviewed at open house from 4:30-6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 26 in the school’s computer labs and media center.

Nagel said parents who already have access to Skyward and know their passwords are all set for open house. If parents haven’t yet signed up for Skyward family access or have forgotten their password, they should visit the Kennedy website for detailed instructions on how to complete the process before open house. She emphasized it’s important to do this before the open house.

“Staff will be available to assist in this process, which has been incorporated by at least one other school in the district and some surrounding districts where families have appreciated the transition to online access vs. signing up on paper at open house,” Nagel said in an email. “Once the program is implemented and future conference dates are accessible, families may sign up for conference times from any computer location.”

School staff will also use Skyward for the monthly family newsletter, important messages and as a resource for parents of students in grades six-eight to monitor weekly academic progress in all classes.

“Please note, we will also have only electronic report cards this year,” Nagel said. “Any families that do not have internet or smart-phone access should contact the Kennedy main office for further assistance with these updates.”

Kindergarten families should have received a kindergarten family packet and more information by mail in mid-August. This will invite them to a student and parent/guardian-scheduled conference time on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

“Kindergarten students should not ride the bus on Tuesday,” Nagel said. “The first full day of school for all kindergarteners will be on Wednesday, Sept. 3.”

The meeting will allow time for kindergarten staff, students and families to review the schedule and expectations, and to gain knowledge about each child and his or her learning needs before the first day of school. Families should check the Kennedy website, watch for their information packet in the mail and attend open house to obtain more information.

Kindergarten through sixth-grade homeroom teachers’ placements were scheduled to be mailed to families last week by postcard. Seventh- and eighth-grade schedules are now available online. Printed copies of seventh- and eighth-grade schedules will also be available at open house Aug. 26.

Nagel said staff is looking forward to welcoming everyone back for the 2014-15 school year and seeing them at the open house.

Another change at Kennedy is the addition of assistant principal, Michelle Hanson, who started her position July 1.

Nagel said much of their work will be “framed” for the next five years by the district’s new strategic plan, which the board adopted this past spring.

A new district literacy curriculum in all grades is being started and several staff are piloting two math programs for next year. Fifth- and sixth-grade students will begin a new program, Advancement via Individual Determination, which is a college- and career-readiness program being implemented district-wide, and eighth-grade students will study a new career and post-secondary planning course.

In the fall, sixth- through eighth-grade students will start the district’s first 1:1 iPad initiative. Students will also be transitioning from semesters to trimester scheduling.

Planning is also underway for the Kennedy facilities expansion.

Enrollment at Kennedy fluctuates at this time of year but is currently around the mid-700 range for kindergarten through eighth grade. This does not include pre-school students.




Cori Hilsgen

Cori Hilsgen

Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.
Cori Hilsgen
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