THREE OAKS — The River Valley Board of Education got an update on this year’s Salmon in the Classroom program during its Nov. 23 meeting.
Three Oaks Elementary Principal Patrick Zuccala said the third year of raising and releasing Chinook salmon is under way at all three schools after he picked up the eggs at the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery on Nov. 17.
“We do a lot of different activities related to the ecology and biology of our state and out area. We teach the children the importance that the Chinook salmon … has to our area in terms of our ecology, the fishing industry,” Zuccala noted.
He said a plan for virtual learning for Salmon in the Classroom is in place in the event remote learning continues.
No eggs had hatched in classroom aquariums as of Nov. 23, but Zuccala said they usually hatch around Thanksgiving.
Sure enough, the following was posted on the district’s Facebook page shortly thereafter: As expected, our Chinook Salmon began to hatch over the Thanksgiving break. The hatchlings known as “alevin” have a yolk sac attached to their bellies which they will feed off of for several weeks until the sac is absorbed and the they begin to swim.
Also during the Nov. 23 Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Scott Bojanich said the district was on track to return to face-to-face learning for kindergarten through the eighth grade on Monday, Nov 30 (the move was confirmed in a Nov. 27 letter posted on the Internet).
High school students in grades 9-12 will continue to follow their daily schedule via live-streaming until at least Dec. 8 (per a state executive order).
Bojanich said one of the things he is thankful for heading into Thanksgiving break was that “we’ve gotten in over a marking period of face-to-face instruction with our students.”
He reported that the district began delivering meals on Nov. 19 (50 had been distributed through pick-ups versus more than three times that number via deliveries by bus drivers – a total of 172 on Nov. 23).
Board member Vickie Wagner said the Blessings in a Backpack Thanksgiving food pack also went out Nov. 23 to 172 children.
Bojanich said ultimately it’s up to the community to “end the curve” and lower the number of COVID-19 cases so face-to-face learning is possible.
“There has been no school (district) in Berrien County that hasn’t stopped at least one of their buildings,” he said.
In Nov. 23 principal reports:
Middle/High School Principal Patrick Breen said new teacher assistant Autumn Israelite has done a great job working with students who need a little more attention.
He also said the district has contracted with Mary Castillo to help seniors with college applications and scholarships while a search for a counselor is continuing.
Been said the middle/high school made a successful transition to remote learning and didn’t have to scramble when the state made its decision “because we had already practiced it before.”
He said the biggest challenge is keeping students motivated and engaged and making sure they stay in their routine and log into every class and complete work.
He said the school staff has done a great job of handling the challenges so far this school year.
Chikaming Elementary Principal Heidi Clark said before the school went virtual pupils who completed their Kids Read Now program in the summer were celebrated. “The number was quite a bit up from the year previously.”
She said teachers are learning new methods and technologies of instruction in the virtual setting,
Clark said the three man goals at the school remain a strong culture, strong literacy and strong families.
Zuccala said Three Oaks Elementary was closed face-to-face learning until Nov. 30 “to get healthy and rest up while making good choices over Thanksgiving break. Virtual learning format since Nov. 2 – so developed a set of expectations
He said the annual Celebrations Around the World (where pupils learn about and share how different countries celebrate the holidays) – some modifications – digital version of traveling to other classrooms and community or totally recorded if still virtual.
In other Nov. 23 business, the River Valley Board of Education OK’d a reconfirmation of the COVID-19 extended learning plan (due every 30 days) which included the following: Chikaming Elementary – a 10 percent remote rate with 74 percent attendance; 90 percent in-person with 88 percent attendance; Three Oaks Elementary – a 20.8 percent remote rate with 92 percent attendance; 79.2 percent in-person with 90 percent attendance; Middle/High School – a 16 percent remote learning rate with 84 percent attendance; 84 percent in-person with 84 percent attendance.