Washington School District

Washington School District Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer reported a smooth start to the new school year.

Students returned to the classroom Wednesday for the 2018-19 school year.

VanLeer said Clearview Elementary was her first stop opening day.

“Everything  was smooth — it was as if the students had never left,” she said. “The students were all settled in, going over procedures, getting to know their teacher and classmates, and getting organized.”

The superintendent also dropped by the Four Rivers Career Center Wednesday, visiting almost all the programs and welcoming students.

“Students from most of the sending districts were in attendance with the rest coming tomorrow as soon as all schools are back in session,” she said. “I visited nearly all Washington Middle School classrooms as well.”

VanLeer said she always enjoys welcoming back students, asking about their summer, and encouraging them heading into the new year. She planned to visit the remaining schools buildings the rest of the week and next.

Assistant Superintendents Dr. Judy Straatmann, Dr. Brendan Mahon and Dr. Rachael Franssen also visited the different schools buildings, meeting and greeting students and staff, while also communicating with the principals.

“We look forward to having a terrific school year,” VanLeer said. “They fly by pretty fast so we want to make the most of the time we have with our students.”


Opening day enrollment in kindergarten through high school was approximately 3,868, down about 17 students from opening day last year.

However, Straatmann noted enrollment numbers are still very preliminary and the district will have a more accurate count after Labor Day after all transfer students and late enrollees are known.

At Washington High School, there were about 1,293 students enrolled as of Wednesday, which is down about 22 students.

Washington Middle School, which includes seventh and eighth grades, reported approximately 651 students opening day, up about 41 students.

The elementary numbers for opening day as compared to last year are as follows:

Augusta Elementary -— 132 students, down 13.

Campbellton Elementary — 142 students, same as last year.

Clearview Elementary — 321 students, down 19.

Labadie Elementary — 137 students, up two.

Marthasville Elementary — 199 students, down 11.

South Point Elementary — 436 students, down one.

Washington West Elementary — 557 students, up six students.

“There are big swings at Clearview and the middle school,” Straatmann said. “Clearview had a large sixth-grade class last year which has moved to the middle school. Other than that, numbers are pretty stable.”

Principals Pleased With Opening Day

WHS Principal Dr. Kelle McCallum said the high school had a great first day.

“It is fantastic seeing our students and teachers return to Blue Jay Nation,” she said. “We are looking forward to a great year of achievement with our students.”

Ron Millheiser, middle school principal, also reported a “very smooth” start.

At Augusta Elementary, Principal Dr. Mary K. Robertson said students walked into school with big grins and positive attitudes.

“Their teachers welcomed them with warm greetings, handshakes or hugs,” she said. “We had a short assembly to review our district expectations of R.O.C.K behavior and our new school focus, which is on developing a growth mindset.”

Robertson explained that growth mindset is taking pride in your work, having a “can-do attitude,” looking at mistakes as learning opportunities, and being comfortable taking academic risks.

“We will continue to teach these characteristics throughout the year,” she said. “It was a great first day.”

Even the rain Wednesday morning couldn’t take away the staff and students’ excitement at returning to school, said Jennifer Meyer, Campbellton Elementary principal.

“We had a smooth beginning of the day with lots of smiles, hugs and catching up with each other,” she said. “Now it’s time to get busy working on all of our curriculum. We’re looking forward to a great year with lots of fun, new and exciting learning experiences.” 

Clearview Elementary Principal Dr. Matt Busekrus said he was pleased with how the first day went.

“Our main jobs for Day One are to ensure that all students come into school safely, serve lunch to everyone and get students home safely,” he said. “We were able to accomplish all of these jobs with minimal issues.”

Busekrus said a good first day is a result of the hard work in planning from teachers, secretaries, cooks and custodians.

“We look forward to having a great school year at Clearview,” he added.

The first day was “wonderful,” at Washington West Elementary, according to Principal Kim Hunt.

“The students were excited and full of smiles, greeting staff and their missed friends,” she said. “They are settling into the routine of things very quickly.”

Hunt added that the rain stopped just in time for recess Wednesday.

South Point Elementary is “off and running,” said Aimee Harty, principal.

“Wednesday was a great day and it was as though the students never left for summer break,” she said. “New kindergarten friends arrived happy and eager to be at school.”

Harty said students spent the first day meeting new teachers and friends.

“It is great to have the building busy again,” she said. “We are confident this is going to be a great school year.”

There was one minor mishap opening day. A First Student bus carrying middle school and high school students was in an accident en route to school.

Bus No. 302 was rear-ended on Highway 47 near Aldi Supermarket. No injuries were reported and the bus arrived just a little late, according to Craig Vonder Haar, district communications manager.