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News >  K-12 education

WVSD wants ‘smooth start’ for children in K-5th grades through new Kickstart program

Aug. 2, 2021 Updated Wed., Aug. 4, 2021 at 8:50 p.m.

Orchard Center Elementary is seen in 2018. The West Valley School District is launching a new program called Kickstart that introduces students in K-5th grades to the school day. The program will be offered at each neighborhood elementary school Aug. 17-26. (Kathy Plonka/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Orchard Center Elementary is seen in 2018. The West Valley School District is launching a new program called Kickstart that introduces students in K-5th grades to the school day. The program will be offered at each neighborhood elementary school Aug. 17-26. (Kathy Plonka/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The West Valley School District is trying out a new program called Kickstart, which is designed to introduce elementary students to their school and teachers before school begins.

“This is the first year we’ve had it,” said assistant superintendent Vicki Leifer. “ It’s really just a kickstart into the next school year.”

The program for students entering grades K-5 will get students in their neighborhood school so they can become familiar with it, Leifer said. They’ll also get a chance to meet their fellow students and their teacher.

“We just really want them to have a smooth start,” she said.

Last year, as online learning became the norm, teachers met individually with each student before classes began. Leifer said everyone enjoyed that part of the experience, which allowed students and teachers to meet face to face, and the district was looking for a way to replicate it this year. The Kickstart program was created to fulfill that goal.

The program will be offered from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from Aug. 17 to 26. It’s free to sign up and students will be served breakfast and lunch each day. Each elementary school and the district’s kindergarten center will host its own Kickstart program.

Families don’t need to commit to have their children attend all six days, Leifer said. Children are welcome even if they can only attend a day or two.

“We would love to see the kids even if its for that small amount of time,” she said.

The activities the children will be doing will vary by grade level and by school.

“The teachers are in charge of the activities,” she said.

Each activity, including STEM learning, art and other hands-on projects, is designed to be fun, Leifer said.

“Really the focus is the joy of learning and piquing curiosity,” she said. “We’re not sitting in front of a computer. We’re not sitting at desks doing times tables.”

As of the end of July, more than 350 elementary students had signed up to attend, including 78 kindergarteners, Leifer said. Those who signed up in May and June were eligible to receive transportation to their Kickstart location by bus.

The response was more than Leifer was hoping for.

“It’s beyond anything we ever expected,” she said. “I am amazed and super excited.”

The staffers feel the same way, Leifer said.

“Our staff members are really interested and excited, too,” she said.

Leifer said she was hoping the program would get a lot of interest because it didn’t require a lot of commitment. If parents give positive feedback, the program could return next year.

“We’ll see what the reception is,” she said.

Students must register for Kickstart in advance. Advance registration officially closed Monday, Leifer said, but there are some slots available. Parents interested in signing up their children should contact the district office at (509) 924-2150.

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Correspondent Nina Culver can be reached at nculver47@gmail.com.

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