Students and staff at Brookings-Harbor School District hit the ground running to start off the 2022/2023 school year.
Brookings-Harbor High School principal DeAnne Varitek said there is a lot to be excited for in the 2022/2023 school year – from Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, to one-to-one technology initiatives and new staff and student learning objectives. . “You hear so much about the national angst going on – just with kids being re-schooled after the pandemic,” Varitek said. “We have a great group of students. They have been excited about coming back and re-engaging with all of the traditional things with school. ”
The high school has been undergoing a “fantastic rebuild” of their CTE program, Varitek said. These programs include career skills training that help students become ready for college or work. CTE curriculum focuses on students on academic, employability and technical skills used in a specific occupation. Brookings-Harbor High School CTE programs include an internationally certified welding instructor and welding lab. They have a graphic design and video production program, as well as robotics classes and a competitive robotics team. Staff are in the process of developing a construction trades program.
“We also have a very robust health services program where students can earn over 20 college credits by the time they graduate,” Varitek said. High School students have the opportunity to learn entrepreneurship, “which is a great thing in this community with all the small businesses,” the principal said.
Students also opened a school store during their back to school night where parents got to purchase some swag – and they are looking forward to opening a student-run bank at some time during the school year.
Brookings-Harbor School District communications coordinator Nancy Raskauskas said there are also exciting things happening at the elementary and middle school levels.
A Student Success Act passed by Oregon legislature in 2019 created student success fund money for Oregon schools.
“That was reinvested in our school district and schools across Oregon in a lot of different ways,” Raskauskas said.
“In our schools, at the younger levels, it’s meant a lot more elective choices. We were able to bring back elementary music and PE (physical education). And starting this year, elementary art, as well, ”she said.
The school district was able to add some career-tech oriented options as well.
“At the middle school level we added graphic design, as well as art and music. We also have a lot of shared projects between the high school and the middle school, with spaces that can be used by both
schools. This includes maker spaces with high-tech tools and 3-D printers, ”Raskauskas said. “Just to give a shout out to students at the younger levels as well.”
Brookings Harbor School District have also worked to integrate technology into their teachings. They’ve adopted a one-to-one technology objective to provide educational solutions to the new and widespread role of tech in the lives of students and teachers.
At the high-school level, every student is issued a Chromebook like they would be issued a text book. At the elementary and middle school levels, students also have a one-to-one ratio but the Chromebooks are used in classrooms and stay at school.
High school principal Varitek said the Brookings-Harbor school district is working to overcome some of the same learning challenges schools are facing nationally.
In order to overcome these issues, school district staff are integrating relationship building, and social / emotional learning in addition to traditional learning objectives.
“Specifically at the high school level, a big focus for me is on the student voice. We want students to feel like it is an expectation to self-advocate. We want them to grow into confident, healthy, successful young adults, ”Varitek said. “It’s really important that they know their voice is respected and valued here. That is academically. That is within the school environment. That is when they face challenges with other students or challenges in the community. We want to support them through all of that, ”she said. The school district is also addressing student social / emotional skills. This includes being socially engaged and mutually respectful.
“That makes us good human beings. How do we resolve conflict peacefully with one another? How do we take care of ourselves when we are feeling a high degree of stress or we are feeling life challenges? These are things that were traditionally neglected by the field of education and we have really realized it – and covid helped us understand it – even nationally that we need those things in order to feel good about ourselves, ”Varitek said.
The principal also said the high school staff has undergone a lot of professional learning to meet their own, and their students’ needs.
“Our staff has been engaged in more professional learning than ever before and they are doing such an amazing job of taking it in and incorporating it into the work they do,” she said.
This year, now that the school district is welcoming the public back into the building as approved visitors, there are also opportunities for community members to get involved and support youth in the community. This could be attending home football games, volunteering to reading stories at the elementary level or tutoring middle school and high school students.
“We want the community to know we are always going to follow health guidelines, and we are ready to welcome people back into the buildings so that we can get back to business,” Varitek said.