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Part One: GMR students open up about their school

Middle River School site

Greenbush School site

Brooklyn Wahl reads on a bench in Mrs. Waage’s fifth grade “flexible learning” classroom environment last fall. GMR students from third grade to twelfth grade opened up about their school, from their favorite subjects and reasons they enjoy going to school at GMR most to some improvements they’d like to see at their school and some of the issues brought up within the district in recent years.

Following the November 2015 vote, one seeing district residents vote in favor of renewing the existing operating levy and vote down the building of one new school in the Greenbush area, Greenbush-Middle River Superintendent Tom Jerome said, no matter the results, the district would continue to focus on “serving our students and providing the very best education possible.”

Seventeen GMR students in grades third to twelfth grade had an opportunity to open up about their education at their school, getting to talk about their favorite subjects, their teachers, and their extracurricular and technology opportunities. 

For those in sixth to twelfth grade, they also had a chance to express their thoughts on the school’s current financial and building situation, one new school building, and the issue of students moving to other districts if the board didn’t change its latest decision—to move all seventh to twelfth grade students to Greenbush and have both sites still maintain elementary schools. These same older students also had an opportunity to address community members’ worries about losing a school building, bus rides, and suggestions they have for the school moving forward. 

Besides a few facts strewn in, the individuals sitting in the classrooms and walking the halls at GMR everyday—the students—exclusively tell this story. Some students expressed these thoughts anonymously, only identified by their grade this past spring. 

First asked what they enjoy about going to school at GMR, all the students, with the exception of two, mentioned the people. Nine students said getting to see and spend time with their friends was one thing they enjoyed about coming to school at GMR.  Numerous students also pointed to the school’s small class sizes. 

A seventh grader last spring, Katelyn Larson commented on the result of such small class sizes, calling the GMR school home.

“Just coming here everyday (makes it home) and it’s a small school so you know basically everybody,” Larson said, having gone to school at GMR since preschool. 

Some students also pointed to the teachers and paraprofessionals as a reason they enjoy coming to GMR. Later asked what they like most about the teachers, the students described them using words such as “nice” and “kind.” Many students also pointed to the different methods and activities the teachers use to make learning enjoyable. 

For example, fourth grader Katelyn Waage enjoys the games her music teacher uses to teach music notes, including the memory or matching game and hangman. Fifth graders Kylie Golovkine and Nicole Berard appreciate the arranged seating, or the “flexible learning” environment their teacher Mrs. Robin Waage started in their classroom this past school year, providing not only different learning environments or seating options, but, as Berard said, allowing students to better focus. 

As third grader Owen Lund said, “They (the teachers) do what they’re supposed to be doing.”

To see the complete story, read the July 26 issue of The Tribune in print or online. To see part two of this story, read an upcoming issue of The Tribune.

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