Nervous and excited kids donning new clothes, backpacks, and supplies went back to school this week to rejoin their friends as the 2018-19 school year kicked off Monday. Starting at 5:45 a.m., Washoe County School District Superintendent Traci Davis met media and guests at the Getto Transportation Center on 1850 Kleppe Lane in Sparks where a third of the fleet of WCSD’s school buses are kept. The district transports 20,000 students daily to its schools spanning a 6,342-square-mile distance and its bus drivers log enough miles to go to the moon and back 10 times over.
Meanwhile, the Sparks High School 2019 Senior Class met on the Railroaders’ football field at 5 a.m. for its traditional Senior Sunrise event. The new seniors released balloons, took an aerial photo forming a 19, and watched the sun rise together to celebrate the start of the school year. This informal gathering is a favorite of the Railroaders and the seniors wear crowns all week to show their pride. A few hours later, Sparks High cheerleaders lined up on the main walkway and welcomed the rest of the school with music and fun.
Sparks High recently received a grant to hire a new counselor and intervention teacher to help keep kids on track and successful in their endeavors. Principal Kevin Carroll says that the school has a great shot at reaching an 85 percent graduation rate with final numbers released in October.
The district as a whole achieved an 84 percent graduation rate in 2017- a record for this region.
“We’re super excited, we’re rolling forward with what we’re doing,” Carroll says. Its first big event will be its Back to School assembly this Thursday to play games, introduce new teachers, and show new freshmen what assemblies are like.
Over at Dunn Elementary School, kids in Pre-K through sixth grade are equally as excited to be back and the first day was going amazingly smooth.
“Things are going well. (I attribute that) to the communication we’ve had with families so they know what to expect when they get here,” says Dunn Principal Allison Fannin. A majority of the Dunn teachers and staff went out to the front to greet the students and give them a warm welcome back.
“It’s great to see their little faces and I think everyone sprouted like three inches,” she says. This was also an easier first day back for the principal considering this is only Fannin’s second year at the school.
“The first year was learning the culture of the school, getting to know the staff, parents, and students. This year I know the staff really well and the parents and students much better. This was a much smoother first day, I know where to tell the kids to line up,” laughs Fannin.
Dunn is also introducing new Academic Parent Teacher (APT) teams this year, where parents are invited into the classrooms four times this year to see what their kids are learning and get them more involved so that they can do activities with their kids and help them retain their education off-campus. So far Dunn is off to a great start and Fannin sees bright days ahead.
“I’m really looking forward to continuing to build bonds and relationships with parents and staff,” she says.
There are currently around 64,000 students and 8,000 employees that make up the Washoe County School District. It is also building three new schools- one in Reno, one in Sun Valley, and one in Spanish Springs. Sky Ranch Middle School in Spanish Springs and the others are made possible by the WC-1 initiative that passed in the 2016 election.