The Learning Curve: Coloma looks ahead to a new school year

The Learning Curve: Coloma looks ahead to a new school year

COLOMA, Mich. -- Believe it or not Michiana students are just weeks away from the end of another school year.

As summer break approaches, the Learning Curve team checks in with Coloma Community Schools to see what students are looking ahead too in the 2022/2023 school year.

The 5th current graders at Coloma's intermediate school are excited to make the jump over to the middle school!

"Scared but excited," said 5th grader, John Dahlquist.

"I'm really excited," said classmate, Emily Hansen. "And there's a lot of new things up there."

Aside from navigating a new building, incoming 6th graders are excited for the "firsts" of 6th grade.

"I'm looking forward to being a little bit more independent, about classes and stuff," said 5th grader Myla Klee.

“They're using their lockers. And between classes, they might have six different teachers and having to move independently throughout the building," said Coloma's Junior High Principal, Wendy Tremblay.

A long list of changes the students learned and asked about during a presentation with their soon-to-be middle school principal, Mrs. Tremblay.

“It's a big transition to move from the intermediate school up to the junior high. And it can be scary," said Tremblay. "So we make sure that we spend a lot of time with them and preparing them so they know what to expect when they come over to us.”

A big transition even the staff is making after two years of virtual meetings and online tours with future students.

“We're really excited this year, not only can we bring all of the fifth grade together at the same time, but they can walk over and see us, they can walk through our building, they can meet some of our students, and we can invite the parents into the building before the end of the school year as well," said Tremblay.

Allowing students to focus on education versus coronavirus protocols.

Something current 5th grade teacher, Joshua Soderborg, said is vital.

“They can worry about the coursework, worry about making friends and worry about doing what the being a normal student like they were before the pandemic," said Soderborg.

We all know learning was different because of the pandemic.

“In third grade, we stopped halfway through, and I missed almost all of that. Because I was like, I was new to computers. And I didn't know much. So I almost missed all that, basically," said Dahlquist.

Missing not only school, but loved ones too.

Learning Curve reporter, Summer Horan, asked Dahlquist how the years have been navigating through the pandemic.

“Rough," said Dahlquist. "We lost two family members. But the friends have been there. Like Liam Contreras. He was there for me a lot.”

Trials Mr. Soderborg hopes to leave behind going into the fall.

“My goals is to get kids moving around and go on more field trips, get kids involved, get kids playing, doing extra extracurricular activities, and enjoying the school year," said Soderborg.

Goals to get kids interested in being at school again.

“We just need as teachers understand that there's a gap," said Soderborg. “But it's our job to teach them the curriculum, teach them the standards, and help them be a lifelong learner.”

Learning lessons the district wants to amplify in a new 5-year strategic plan.

“We'll be focusing on student achievement, obviously, that's always something we're gonna focus on," said Superintendent, Dave Ehlers. "One of the other key points is that we want to open our buildings, be more welcoming to the community, it's such a big part of who we are.”

Along with goals for updating the physical facilities so staff can tackle potential challenges head on.

“Just making sure that in terms of mental health that our students are still feeling safe and cared for as well," said Tremblay.

“Funding is always an issue that we have to work on in schools. We do want to get our parents more involved. Not just the community but get parents more involved in what goes on in here," said Superintendent Ehlers.

Clearly family involvement is important to both the school and the students it serves.

“The high school and the junior high are connected. And my dad is a high school teacher," said Klee. "So that will be fun.”

“My aunt is a teacher. And my uncle is a principal for the high school. So we're gonna be like, together," said Hansen.

Horan went on to ask Coloma staff if there was anything to be gained in the upcoming school year?

“Just a sense of normalcy. Just to return to normal and allow kids to be kids and do those things that we've been accustomed to for years," said Tremblay.

“I think everything is just getting back to normal and getting back to what we do and try to do it better," said Superintendent Ehlers.

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