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Community Builder: Exciting year coming for NY Mills School; open house set for Aug. 31

Sam Benshoof/FOCUS New York Mills students likely have Tuesday, Sept. 6 marked down on their calendars: it's the first day of the new school year.

While students may not want the fun and freedom of summer vacation to come to an end, New York Mills Superintendent Todd Cameron can't wait for the new school year.

The school "gets to be a lonely building" during the summer, Cameron said.

The new school year will bring a few new changes to NY Mills, while also a continuation of programs started last year.

Wireless technology

For the first time, wireless Internet is coming to the NY Mills School this year.

According to Superintendent Todd Cameron, the new wireless was acquired through the efforts of vocational ag teacher Luke Becker, who managed to obtain a federal vocational grant.

"He (Becker) has been good about going after those dollars," Cameron said.

The wireless will start initially in the shop tech part of the school, Cameron said, but will eventually spread throughout the rest of the building.

According to Cameron, the new Internet represents the school's desire to go completely wireless.

"The tools of the future are wireless," Cameron said, pointing to iPads and other new technology that's making its way into schools.

"That's where we want to be," he added.

It'll take a while to get everything completely wireless, Cameron said, but the school will definitely be looking for grants and other opportunities to move forward with that kind of technology.

Shared programs

Cameron said that the school is working on a gifted/talent program that he hopes it can share with the Perham-Dent School District.

Discussion of the program started with former Perham Superintendent Tamara Uselman, and Cameron hopes that the program can be brought to the NY Mills School Board for consideration early in the fall.

The program would have the two districts sharing a staff member working with students labeled as 'gifted' or 'talented.'

"It give students something non-traditional to do during the day," Cameron said, pointing to examples of students researching science or technology or some special interest that they wouldn't otherwise study inside the classroom.

Additionally, NY Mills is looking into targeted services, which would go through the Perham Area Learning Center. This program would use federal dollars to assist children with math or reading in after school programs, Cameron said.

New assessments

Cameron said this year he's particularly looking forward to new assessment guides, such as Study Island, which will address science, math and reading.

The program will provide teachers with new tools to teach, and will help identify what students know and what they're able to do.

The school has already been using the program for math for five years, and Cameron said he's been happy with the progress shown during that time.

With Study Island, "we're able to assess and monitor students throughout the year," he said.

Teachers and staff have been involved in a lot of other new training as well, Cameron said. Over the summer, they've been learning new assessments and new curriculum ideas.

"I've been impressed with the effort they've put into it," he said, "and I'm looking forward to the progress our students have made."

Upcoming dates

Some important upcoming dates for NY Mills:

-Aug. 29: Teachers report to the school

-Aug. 31: School open house from 4-7 p.m. for all students and families K-12. A free meal will be served. Students can meet their teachers, get their schedules, and get ready for the upcoming year.

-Sept. 6: The first day of the 2011-2012 academic school year.