Orono students kick off 2015-2016 school year

Students step off of buses at Schumann Elementary school on Sept. 8, the first day of the school year.  (Pioneer photo by Sean Miner)
Students step off of buses at Schumann Elementary school on Sept. 8, the first day of the school year. (Pioneer photo by Sean Miner)

By Sean Miner
The Pioneer

With Labor Day falling on the latest possible day in September, the summer of 2015 held on for as long as it could. But on Sept. 8, children across the country headed to school – for many, back for another year, and for the class of 2028, for the first time.

The weather was picture-perfect in Orono as kids stepped off of buses and onto the sidewalk at Schumann Elementary, Orono Intermediate School, Orono Middle School and Orono High School.

Students returning to any of these schools on the Orono School District campus might notice a few changes.

One of the most important changes at Orono schools this year is the phasing in of the PLUS program, a technology-based initiative. Standing for Personalized Learning for Unlimited Success, the program will eventually make use of laptops or similar devices in the hands of each student to facilitate learning for portions of the school day.

For this first phase, students 6-9 will be bringing either a school-owned device, borrowed for the year like a textbook, or an approved student-owned device with them each day. Classrooms at OIS will share sets of school-owned Chromebooks, and most students at Schumann will have access to iPads.

Students at Orono Intermediate School have a new principal this year. With Dr. Scott Alger, the previous principal at OIS, taking a newly-created position as the district’s first Director of Human Resources, Mary Jodl-Ernhart was brought on board over the summer to serve as head of the school.

As for physical changes to the schools, the fire alarm system at the high school received an update over the summer, and the parking lot at the Orono Discovery Center in Maple Plain was repaved.

Most prominent of these changes, however, will be the addition of a new scoreboard at Pesonen Stadium, which is slated to be installed in time for Orono’s homecoming football game on Sept. 18. According to Coordinator of Facilities and Safety Justin McCoy, workers were welding together a support structure for the board on the first day of school, in anticipation of the board itself arriving later in the week.

McCoy, along with other school staff, reported being excited for the year to come.

“A new year always brings fun new challenges and new opportunities for students and staff,” said McCoy.

Contact Sean Miner at [email protected]