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Principals look back on ‘23-’24 school year

By all accounts, and according to those who would know best, this school year was another success.

Last week, the four public school principals were asked a variety of questions regarding their thoughts as to the 2023-2024 school year and what’s ahead when school starts in August.

Amy Wagner: Principal, Boulder City High School

Overall, how do you feel things went this year?

Our year ended with a beautiful ceremony where 154 students earned their high school diploma, many with honors and distinction. Our senior class was accepted into 30 different colleges and universities, received over 230 different scholarships or awards, and earned over $5 million in scholarships.

Any highlights?

It was a great year for BCHS academically, but also in athletics as well. Three teams took the state championship title (girls tennis, boys volleyball, and boys swim) and three teams were the state runner-up (boys tennis, girls volleyball, and flag football). Additionally, we had eight teams who won regional titles (girls tennis, boys tennis, boys golf, boys volleyball, girls track, softball, boys swim, and girls swim).

Some other highlights were: our Student Council receiving the National Gold Council of Excellence Award as well as the Silver Star Award; our robotics team was part of the championship alliance winning the Las Vegas Regional, and our performing and fine arts programs representing us in different competitions and festivals receiving gold medals and first in our group.

Sadly, for Garrett and King, both had to deal with the death of a teacher. For all of you, how difficult is that to deal with and how as staff and students do you work through that?

The death of a teacher on a school campus can be profoundly challenging, especially in a close-knit community like Boulder City. It disrupts the familiar rhythm of daily life, leaving both staff and students grappling with grief and loss. In such a tight-knit community, support networks become crucial as we all come together as a community to mourn, reminisce, and support one another. Counseling services, memorial events and/or activities, having grief counselors on campus, and having an opportunity to talk to others experiencing the grief provide avenues for healing and solidarity amidst the pain of their loss.

Because we are so small and our schools are nestled together, the school community functions like an extended family. When faced with the tragic loss of a teacher or staff member on one of our campuses, the proximity of the schools fosters a sense of unity and collective support, allowing for a shared understanding of grief and a willingness to lend a helping hand wherever needed. This closeness enables swift mobilization of resources and emotional support, as the entire BC family comes together to honor the memory of the departed educator and provide comfort to those affected.

How are things at your school, looking at the year ahead?

We will be working all summer gearing up for the new school year at BCHS. We hope that all students and parents will be able to attend our “Soaring Through BCHS” event on Friday, Aug. 9 from 6-8 p.m. The first day of school for all students is Monday, Aug. 12. I wish all of you a great summer and am looking forward to seeing you all in August.

Melanie Teemant: Principal, Garrett Junior High

Overall, how do you feel things went this year?

Overall, I feel things went well this year. There were challenges, but we made significant progress and achieved many of our goals. I’m optimistic and excited about next year, as we are implementing new classes, activities, and programs.

Any highlights?

Garrett had so many great highlights, but the end of the year gave us significant growth in math with Spring MAP scores and growth in ELA. Our added sports programs brought so much excitement and energy to the campus with a great turnout for tryouts. For example, over 100 students tried out for volleyball and over 60 for soccer. We love the added opportunities of having 4-H to partner with and they are running a three-week summer program at our building for students to learn archery, cooking and nutrition, career planning, sewing, and physical fitness. Students will be taking a few field trips as well. There were championships with six division titles and growing the STEM initiatives, to name a few.

Sadly, for Garrett and King, you had to deal with the death of a teacher. For all of you, how difficult is that to deal with and how as staff and students do you work through that?

Garrett handled the death of our amazing and beloved teacher Mr. Franke, with remarkable grace. Students and staff showed remarkable strength and compassion, providing support to each other, while honoring Mr. Franke’s memory in a heartfelt and respectful manner. There were several special moments throughout the year, and we ended our year recognizing his extraordinary contributions to each of us, by providing a scholarship to the UNLV STEM camp in June. This will be an annual award in memory of Mr. Franke. This tragic event brought our school together, creating a lasting bond between us and reinforcing our sense of community and support for one another.

How are things at your school, looking at the year ahead?

We are working full speed ahead this summer, as we finished our schedules, are getting all the information out to the community for next year so that everyone is enrolling, and looking forward to another fantastic year with our students.

Jason Schrock: Principal, Martha King Elementary

Overall, how do you feel things went this year?

The 23-24 school year was filled with many highs and lows for King. It is never easy to lose a staff member and Mr. Kingen meant a great deal to our students, staff, and community. His presence will be greatly missed. A celebration of life will be held later this month and I know that many of our staff are hoping to attend to pay their last respects to a colleague who was so dear to all of them.

From a celebration standpoint, King achieved something that only 16 of the 378 schools in Clark County School District can boast and that is being named a “4-Star” school. We are so proud of this distinction and hope very much to reach “5-Star” status in the coming years.

Any highlights?

This year, we were so pleased to be able to offer scholarships for Great American Award recipients. This was made possible by the generous donation of the Boulder City Republican Women’s group, who provided both complete and partial scholarships for students to attend the Pali Institute, a camp that focuses on leadership skills, science, and team building.

I want to thank the team at Boulder City High School for their support of our fifth grade Promotion Ceremony and the SBAC Pep Rally. This year their team hosted a packed gym of students and parents to celebrate the achievements of our fifth-graders as well as an incredible pep rally meant to motivate our students as we attempt to be named a “5-Star” school for the 24-25 school year. I realize that the timing of these events often occurs at their busiest time of year with many senior and graduation events, but it is so nice to work with a team that understands that while they may be King students this year they will eventually become BCHS Eagles. Their support of our kids and our community is greatly appreciated and does not go unnoticed. Thank you to Mrs. Wagner, Mr. Steckelberg, Mr. Trupp, and the entire custodial team at BCHS.

Sadly, for Garrett and King, you had to deal with the death of a teacher. For all of you, how difficult is that to deal with and how as staff and students do you work through that?

Telling our students of Mr. Kingen’s passing was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do as principal. Seeing their expressions of grief and loss brought tears to my eyes, but it also reminded me of how important the role of teacher is to a community. Our students loved Mr. Kingen and the notes that they wrote to his wife brought her comfort in her time of need. Reading their notes and seeing their pictures Mrs. Kingen was able to see first-hand that her husband had lived a life of purpose and meaning, through his love of art and his love of teaching.

The students that he influenced will carry on his memory throughout their lifetimes, and to me, the true measure of a person’s life are the memories that we leave with others when we pass. I know that our students, staff, and community will remember Mr. Kingen as a caring and devoted individual who taught not only art but also how to find one’s own creativity.

I want to thank our community for the outpouring of support that we received in our time of grief as well. In the fall, Mr. Kingen’s family will return to our school as we install a memorial stone in his honor. We hope that it will serve as a reminder of all of the wonderful memories that Mr. Kingen created for our students, staff, and community.

How are things looking at your schools as we finish this year and look at the year ahead?

Next year, King is excited to welcome three new staff members. In third grade we will welcome Brianna Egan as our newest teacher to the grade level. Mrs. Egan previously taught at Walker Elementary School in Henderson but before that she served as a teacher at our very own Tiny Tots here in Boulder City. Mrs. Egan is very excited to teach third grade as many of next year’s third-graders would have been in her classroom in Tiny Tots.

In addition to Mrs. Egan, King will also welcome a new fourth grade teacher to the school, Michelle Adams. Mrs. Adams is currently teaching at a school in Las Vegas. Before she was a teacher she served as the principal of Morrow Elementary School. She brings with her a wealth of education knowledge and experience that I know will serve our community well.

Our final staff member will be the addition of a new school health assistant. After more than a decade at our school Annette Goldman, our school health assistant, has decided to retire. We wish her well as she enters a more relaxed phase of her life. King is currently in the search for her replacement.

Thank you, parents, students, and staff, for a tremendous 23-24 school year. We will see you all in the fall during our meet and greet, which will be held on Friday, Aug. 9.

Tracy Echeverria: Principal, Andrew Mitchell Elementary School

Overall, how do you feel things went this year?

I think it was a great year at Mitchell. Despite going through a year of change, students still showed considerable academic achievement, we continued our school activities focused on Leader in Me and the Seven Habits, and we continued our family engagement traditions.

Any highlights?

Mitchell ES made gains in student achievement and attendance. We already have an outstanding number of parent volunteers who support our classrooms and that number continues to grow. We had a record number of family members attend our Nevada Reading Week family night event. All of our family events were well-attended by our community.

How are things at your school, looking at the year ahead?

Mitchell ES is looking forward to a great 24-25 school year. While it was a year of change, we finished well with everything in place for a great 24-25 school year. We will continue to be an outstanding Leader in Me School. We have a new school counselor and new teachers who are excited to work with our current amazing staff.

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