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Schools report good first-day numbers

Area schools are reporting strong enrollment numbers across the board.

"The numbers are up; we're excited about that," Park Rapids Schools superintendent Glenn Chiodo reported Tuesday of first-day-of-school student numbers.

By Wednesday, the district determined another kindergarten class would be added, class numbers of 126 warranting six classes.

Overall, Park Rapids schools enrollment shows an 18-student increase from fall 2010, with 1,529 students entering classrooms Tuesday compared with 1,511 a year ago.

Student numbers by class, with last year's enrollment in parenthesis, are kindergarten 126 (134), first grade 147 (113), second grade 101 (102), third grade 104 (105) and fourth grade 108 (127).

The district will make an "internal move" for the sixth kindergarten position. Jane Robinson, who currently teaches special education at the high school level, will return to teaching at the elementary level, where "the vast majority of her experience" lies.

Student-teacher ratios in kindergarten are now 20 or 21 to one, Chiodo said. "A great educational setting."

Century elementary students total 586, compared with 581 a year ago.

Century middle school enrollment in fifth grade is 123 (124), sixth grade 122 (119), seventh grade 131 (106) and eighth grade 102 (101).

Middle school enrollment is at 478 compared with 450 last year.

High school enrollment, which Chiodo said tends to fluctuate the most in the first month, is at 465 compared with 480 students a year ago. Freshmen student enrollment was 104 (118), sophomores 112 (134), juniors 129 (129) and seniors 120 (99).


Nevis was experiencing deja vu this week; 515 students arrived on day one compared with 515 a year ago.

Elementary school student numbers are up, 266 stepping into classrooms Tuesday compared with 258 a year ago.

By grade, with last year's numbers in parenthesis, enrollment is 43 (42) kindergartners, 40 (39) first graders, 38 (32) second graders, 30 (38) third graders, 39 (32) fourth graders, 35 (38) fifth graders and 41 (37) sixth graders.

Kindergarten and first grade are now closed to open enrollment. Just over half of the Nevis students arrive through open enrollment.

Junior and senior high enrollment numbers are 37 (41) in seventh grade, 45 (46) in eighth grade, 43 (51) freshmen, 49 (48) sophomores, 42 (33) juniors and 33 (38) seniors.

High school enrollment is 249, compared with 257 last year.

Principal John Strom said the numbers align with projections; enrollment in the district is expected to grow, but at a slow pace.


Menahga School saw an overall increase in enrollment compared to last year.

The total opening day enrollment for grades K-12 is 818 students compared to 802 in 2010 and 772 in 2009.

Superintendent Mary Klamm and new principals Ariana Wright (elementary) and Dan Stifter (high school) welcomed new students this week.

The incoming kindergarten class has 63 students, with 86 in first grade, 90 in second grade, 77 in third grade, 60 in fourth grade, 71 in fifth grade and 56 in sixth grade. The total for the elementary is 503 students.

At the high school, there are 59 seventh graders, 57 eighth graders, 49 ninth graders, 50 tenth graders, 57 eleventh graders and 43 twelfth graders. The total number of students at the high school is 315.

School building projects are still underway, with the new multi-purpose room floor scheduled to be in place by October. The new boys and girls locker rooms and weight room should be completed by the end of October, Klamm said.


Laporte Supt. Harvey Johnson is used to the fluctuating school enrollment numbers at the beginning of every academic year.

"We were as high as, just to give you an idea, 259 earlier this week and we're down to 254, so it goes. The revolving door is still working," Johnson said Wednesday.

School District #306 ended the 2010-11 year with 248 students, so it is experiencing a slight enrollment bump.

It also experienced more tearful goodbyes that first day of class. A bumper crop of kindergartners, 29 in all, prompted the district to hire a second kindergarten teacher for a second class section.

And maybe that's a sign of the times.

"I think it's the Baby Boomers' Baby Boomers, the grandkids," Johnson speculated.

"It's down there (in the third generation) although the bubble is smaller than it was when the Baby Boomers came through obviously, but it's still going to have an effect.

"I don't think it has anything to do with people finding a lot of work in the area, there just doesn't seem to be a lot of that. But a lot of these kids are starting families and they want to stay in the area if they can."

Open enrollment numbers remain fairly stable, although no precise figures are available yet, Johnson said.

"Year in and year out it runs pretty close to between 60 and 70 out of the district and 110-120, sometimes higher, back into the district. This year I don't have those numbers yet," he said.

The official count will be Oct. 1, when school tallies figure into federal grants and title monies.

And even though there may have been more tears this week, the year started smoothly - with one exception.

"Probably the worst is that I almost lost my secretary," Johnson chuckled. "She tripped and dislocated a finger. That's the first casualty."