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Carpenter Elementary opens with new offerings



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August 06, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

After six weeks of summer vacation, students primped for their first day of school walked through Carpenter Elementary's doors on August 1.

Traditional schools have about ten weeks of summer vacation, but both year-round Carpenter and the other Lake Orion Community Schools have the same amount of calendar days.

Carpenter's routine is just a bit tighter, good for higher retention rates, according to Principal Kerri Anderson.

"It's like they never left," Anderson said. "Poor behavior is very minimal, and I think that is because they are in the routine all the time, but academic wise I think it's a big advantage for our kids to have that retention and show that they don't lose as much information over the summer."

Like other elementary schools in the district, Carpenter has a few changes coming this school year.

It will be the first full year of the new Math Expressions program as part of the state-wide requirements for the Common Core math programming.

"It teaches why we do things, not just how we do them," third-grade teacher Katie McWethy said. "It's really for application purposes so they can figure out why we multiply and why we divide in real life."

Anderson agreed.

"It's more critical thinking and problem solving overall versus computation. So we will be anxious to see if our scores improve with having this kind of program," she said.

Another first for Carpenter kids will be the implementation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention program, which was instituted in other many other elementary schools the past couple of years. 

Students and parents will also be excited to see that no instructional programs have been cut in any of the Lake Orion Schools, but instead will see a slight expansion.

Previously Carpenter shared their media specialist with other elementary schools in the district, but for the first time in two years will have their full time media specialist back in action.

"That will bring more instructional technology to teachers in the classroom, so that will be nice to have that back. It was originally apart of the budget cuts," Anderson said.

Also just this year Carpenter students have welcomed an additional 20 schools of choice students in grades third through fifth. Students from Ferndale, Auburn Hills, Pontiac, Waterford and Brandon school districts will mingle and learn with Carpenter students this year, the total of schools of choice students not to exceed 5 percent in all elementary schools.

Close to 200 students have already enrolled or registered for the Lake Orion SOC program.

"That's another exciting thing for students at Carpenter, is to have Schools of Choice students, because we haven't had them in the past," Anderson said. "We've always been full, but this year we had some openings in the upper grades."

Students first break will be ten days in October, then two weeks for winter vacation, another two weeks in February, another week in April, ten days off in May, and back to the six week summer vacation come June.  

"A lot of our students don't go to summer programs because we have such a short summer so even without that we still aren't showing too much summer loss," Anderson said.

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