Highland News Leader

Alhambra, Grantfork students ready to tackle 2019-20 school year

The 2019-20 school year has arrived for students at Alhambra Primary and Grantfork Elementary.

Teachers returned Monday, while the students resume classes Wednesday. Cindy Tolbert, entering her seventh year as principal at both schools, is excited about the school year.

“I’m looking forward to getting kids back into the building. We have some new programs that we look forward to implementing,” she said. “Each teacher has a lot of rules reminders, and need to go over all our procedures.”

Tolbert approximated Alhambra’s enrollment is 170 and Grantfork’s is 75.

“I’m just ready to get back into the swing of things. I’m looking forward to the kids coming back and getting into the school year,” Tolbert added.

A new feature this year is the IXL (“I excel”) program. Tolbert described it as a computerized program she said “helps all students learn.”

“We tend to have programs to help struggling students,” she said. “This year we are implementing IXL to challenge every student no matter what level. I’m looking forward to what that brings to the building — so are the teachers. There’s always the goal of looking to raise test scores; but the goal of that program is to reach every learner, not just the ones struggling.”

Another goal for 2019-20 centers around physical fitness. Tolbert said they are trying to secure funds for a walking trail around Alhambra.

“We just want to get the students involved in more physical activity throughout the building,” Tolbert said. “We have the garden and that kind of ties into it … we also have the mini-marathon in May for both schools. We’re trying to get money to fund a walking trail around Alhambra. Instead of sitting at recess they would be able to walk around the trail … it also would serve as a training area for mini-marathon.

As Tolbert alluded to, both schools also are showing off their respective green thumbs. For year’s Alhambra has had a garden where the kids plant vegetables in late spring. Then, for the first time ever, Grantfork planted a garden last spring.

“Alhambra has had a garden for as long as I’ve been principal,” Tolbert said. “Basically the kids maintain the garden and pick the vegetables.”

Hitz Nursing Home in Alhambra uses the produce from the garden to feed the residents. Tolbert said. One of the parents picked the produce and took it to the nursing home.

Meanwhile, at Granktfork, Tolbert said a local resident has helped maintain the garden beds and brought several kids from the community to pick the produce.

“Then, they took bags and bags of produce to families who cannot afford it. It’s been pretty cool,” Tolbert said.

Also, she said, when school resumes, many students pick produce from the garden for their own families. Additionally, Tolbert noted Alhambra does an annual camp where the students receive detailed instruction in gardening.

As far as first day festivities, in previous years, Tolbert has placed a red carpet down the sidewalk with a stereo outside the building playing music. She was contemplating doing that again.

“The kids are dropped off for school, and we play songs like ‘Celebration,’ and all the teachers are clapping and giving high fives to the kids as they come into the building,” Tolbert said Friday. “We might do that again this year.”