District will finish term with masks

EPHRAIM—The South Sanpete School District has decided to continue to wear masks until graduation.

Addressing the board at a meeting Wednesday, school district nurse Rachel Jensen said, “Our kids have all been troopers, and we all just want to be done with this, but we can make it to graduation.”

Board member Gary Olson said, “It’s been remarkable how well teachers and students have weathered the COVID restrictions. We can all hold on a couple more weeks and show our students that we too can be obedient and follow the rules.”

Discussing graduation plans for upcoming high school graduations, the board noted that Manti High School has decided to do the same type of car graduation this year. “The participation last year was just so positive that the students want to do it again this year.” Board president Grant Hansen said he was told by Manti students, “We like parades!”

Both high school graduation ceremonies will be Friday, May 28 and both will do car parades, like last year. Manti’s graduation parade will begin at 7 p.m. and Gunnison’s parade starts at 5 p.m.

The board also acknowledged students who made the spring sports Academic All-State teams. They are: in baseball, Payton Dyreng, of GVHS; in boy’s tennis, Joshua Barlow of GVHS; in girl’s golf, Anya Lyman and Brynn Overly of GVHS and Camien Pritchard and JoLee Gillett of MHS; in girl’s track, Allie Bridges of MHS and in softball, Kassidy Alder of MHS. To make the team, athletes need a GPA of 3.75 or above.

District’s counselors reported on the health and wellness programs in each school; and the consensus is that the new wellness centers are doing what they were designed to do—give students a place to control their emotional challenges in a safe environment and then return to class, rather than have parents come and take them out of school.

Janice Broomhead reported on Ephraim Middle School’s wellness center and said that most students came to the center and within 10 minutes were back to class. She said WIDA scores were not back from the previous year, and that is one-way counselors measure their progress and goals. WIDA stands for academic language development and academic achievement for children and youth who are culturally and linguistically diverse.

EMS eighth graders did reality town and job shadowing and lifeline suicide prevention. Seventh graders also did job shadowing and took stress management classes. Sixth graders did stress management and after school programs with awards. Broomhead said 95 percent of sixth grade students had passing grades.

Manti High counselor Mandi Thomas said their participating in pathway programs (where students look at possible careers) went from 47 to 81 students this year, in part thanks to ESL teacher Sarah Gibb. Thomas said all students were working with major clarity, a program relating to career preparedness, and noted that 71 percent of the class of 2021 applied for federal aid programs.

Lori Dunn at Gunnison Valley High School said her students are loving the “Keys to Success” program, which gives prizes to students who make progress toward future careers. There is also a ninth-grade transition class that helps students get acclimatized to high school.

Dunn also said the school is receiving a grant from the Central Utah Public Health department dealing with dangers of vaping and drug abuse prevention. She also said Manti High was benefitting from peer mentors and tutors who provide help for bilingual students. “Peer mentors have been a huge help to students learning English,” she said.

She also noted that the student GPAs continue to rise, and there has been a 77 percent decrease in absenteeism this year.

Finally, Sharon Mecham reported on Gunnison Valley Middle and Elementary Schools. She reported increased WICA scores following a trust lands grant that funded two ESL classes. The schools hold parenting classes for Hispanic parents.

She also said Kyle Parry was organizing a community event, a “Gunnison Family Fun Night” for Monday, May 17 that included a motivation speaker and concert. Also on Monday, students enjoyed a scavenger hunt along the Gunnison River Walk with students painting rocks.

The board learned that school lunch will be free for all students next year, and although there may be legislation to make free lunch continuing, right now the mandate is just for the next school year. It was also noted that the district will again offer free lunches in the summer during the month of June from 11:30 a.m. to noon, Monday through Fridays.