NEW BUFFALO — Superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie gave the New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education a report on the start of the 2020-2021 school year during its Monday, Sept. 14, meeting,

"I'm just thrilled to get everybody back, the students and all the staff," he said, adding that administrative assistants, custodians, the food service staff, paraprofessionals, teachers and administrators have all put in a lot of hard work.

Leslie said lunches are a lot different with everybody spaced out. He said the high school yearbooks are in, noting that "every high school student has at least six pictures … it's awesome."

He said the Bison Virtual Academy started "today" (in-school classes began Sept. 8).

"We've got about 85 percent of our students that are doing in-person learning and about 15 percent are doing the virtual option," he said, adding that "bumps in the road" continue to be ironed out.

Leslie said fall sports teams are competing, with additional requirements such as face covering mandates in place due to the pandemic.

Leslie also noted that New Buffalo High School senior Konstantin Bauer has been named a National Merit Semifinalist based on his PSAT/NMSQT test scores.

"This is the first New Buffalo High School student who has earned this distinction since 1995," Leslie noted.

Bridgman High School recently posted on its social media that one of its students, Kai Babcock, also has achieved National Merit Semifinalist status.

The New Buffalo board also approved the following for returning coaching positions on Sept. 14:  Matthew Johnson, Head Football; John Visel, Assistant Football; Adam Lijewski, Middle School Football; Erik Beers, Head High School Soccer; Nicholas Talbot, Assistant High School Soccer; Natalie Walter, Middle School Soccer; Pano Arvanitis, Middle School Soccer; Lisa Tertel, Middle School Volleyball; Kevin Labaj, Varsity High School Volleyball; Kelsie Schutz, Junior Varsity Volleyball; Vance Price, Varsity Cross Country; Ed Fidler, Middle School Cross Country (Co-ed).

And board members discussed a recent meeting with representatives of New Buffalo Township and the City of New Buffalo concerning the  possibility of forming a recreational authority.

Leslie said improvements to athletic facilities at Oselka Park (which is owned by the city) such as the softball field, could be made more likely by the establishment of such an entity. A proposed nature center near the elementary school and other possible ideas also were mentioned.

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