The East Valley School District has a middle school again.
East Valley Middle School has received a new coat of paint and is ready to welcome seventh- and eighth-grade students.
Along with about 500 new students at the school will be the school’s new principal, Doug Kaplicky, and new assistant principal, Stacy Delcour.
Kaplicky comes to East Valley from the Richland School District where he was an elementary school principal.
Delcour is a 1988 East Valley High School graduate who has worked as an alternative school teacher and most recently served as dean of students and activities coordinator at West Valley High School.
“My biggest reason (for coming to East Valley) is coming home,” Delcour said.
Both of them said they liked the idea of working for a small district near a large urban area. They have been working to get the school ready every day since July 1.
“They are looking at the little details,” said interim Superintendent Tom Gresch. He said the two are planning the “best school start for seventh- and eighth-graders that we can think of.”
“We are literally rebuilding this model,” Kaplicky said, adding he intends to get feedback from the community, staff and students.
After one year of full implementation of a K-8 model last year and many tumultuous community meetings, the school board decided to revive the middle school model.
Kaplicky said he’s been following what East Valley has been going through. He knows there are challenges ahead and he and Delcour are embracing those challenges.
With construction on Progress Road going on for much of the summer, Kaplicky set up shop in two Valley coffee shops. He met with parents and collected feedback. He and Delcour made a list of 100 items to take care of and said they estimate they’ve checked off about 50 of them.
“Communication is key,” Kaplicky said.
One of the first items they checked off the list was the master schedule for students. They set up nine electives for students: AutoCAD, shop, robotics, band, choir, orchestra, yearbook, leadership and advanced technology. They will also be on a semester system, rather than the trimester system the middle school used previously.
Kaplicky will also implement what he calls, “reverse discipline,” a reward system that acknowledges students when they succeed. This program includes the distribution of “U-Knighted” tickets. One goes to their advisory teacher, one goes home to their parents and one is put into a lottery box for a prize drawing.
Both Kaplicky and Delcour said they hope the school will be a stable environment and want to move forward from the turbulence of the last school year. They also have a vision of what the school will be like in two or three years, putting plans in place for sixth-graders to come and visit later this year.
“I want more than anything to provide these families with an opportunity,” Kaplicky said. He said the students will be ready for high school and he wants them to create strong relationships with each other and the staff. He also wants to make listening to parents and students a priority.
“It’s OK to ask questions,” Delcour said. “We want those questions.”
Most of all they are looking forward to the first day of school, when the seventh- and eighth-graders start middle school for the first time.
“It’s my favorite age,” Kaplicky said of middle school students. “It’s an awkward age and the best age.”
They also have high hopes for the school year.
“Optimism has been a big word for us,” Kaplicky said.
“How can you not be though?” asked Delcour.