La Crosse’s year-round schools back in session

Local News

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – It might be the middle of July, but some Coulee Region students are heading back to the classroom.

First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff takes us to the first day of la crosse’s year-round schools and describes the changes this school year will bring.

School is officially back in session for Hamilton and Northside elementary schools in La Crosse.

Hamilton Principal Ben Burns says some families choose the year-round option for school because the calendar works better for them, and their kids are eager to be in the classroom.

“Kids inherently love school and six weeks off is still a pretty good break,” Burns said. “The advantage as well is with our intersession breaks, it kind of functions as our summer school but spread out, and so students can actually have programming all but six weeks of the year.”

Hamilton’s student body has been growing in recent years, so to accommodate the increase the school is finishing up a multi-million dollar expansion and renovation project.

Burns says one of the main components of the project is four new classrooms to provide a better learning experience for students.

“Hamilton used to only be up through second grade and then when we went year-round we added third, fourth, fifth,” Burns detailed. “So we grew, but that meant we were using spaces as classrooms that were not meant to be classrooms.”

The project also includes a new gym, new library, and a community space attached to the school that can be used by members of the surrounding neighborhood.

But Hamilton isn’t the only year-round school with changes this year, as Northside Elementary is welcoming a new principal along with welcoming students back for school.

Nicki Pope is now at the helm of Northside after spending ten years as the principal of Lemonweir Elementary School in Tomah.

With her previous school also being year-round, Pope says she was interested in the opportunity to be in a similar position, but in a bigger school district.

“Northside is truly just a larger version of a building that I’ve been at for a decade so it seemed like a really good fit,” Pope explained. “I was looking for an opportunity to expand my own learning, growing within the leadership team that La Crosse provides.”

Pope says she wants to create a fun environment for students, but understands that everyone will be on different levels of learning coming out of the pandemic.

“I truly want to focus on children having a love for learning, I think it’s a lot easier to move the needle for them when they’re excited about what they’re learning,” Pope expressed. “Our biggest challenge is going to be able to find out exactly where they’re at, so using those assessments to see how much have they really lost and where are we at to address those needs.”

Both Pope and Burns hope easing mask requirements and social distancing will create a better learning experience this school year.

In La Crosse, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.

The La Crosse School District made mask-wearing optional on July first, but the district is continuing to monitor covid in the community.

Mask-wearing may be reinstated if case numbers begin to rise.

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