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Wasatch County students back in the classroom this week

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Kirsta Albert
/
Wasatch County School District
Old Mill Elementary School teachers Emily Geilman (L) and Maria Rivera speak to students and parents.

Wasatch County students return for another school year this week.

First- through ninth-graders start Tuesday, and 10th- through 12th-graders go back Wednesday.

That means all elementary and middle schools jumped back in full swing, and the high school took a staggered approach to bringing students back. School district information officer Kirsta Albert said freshmen started a day early at the high school to find their classrooms and get familiar with the school before another 2,000 students return.

Student enrollment at the high school surpassed 2,600, up from 2,450 last year. Wasatch High School Principal Justin Kelly says the overcrowding has been the hardest part of getting ready for this year.

“So, we've hired more teachers. They are on carts [mobile classrooms],” Kelly said. “We've had to just add more seats in the classroom, and we tried to stagger lunches a little bit. But again, it's trying to have students make connections. There's a lot of students in school that we want to make a connection to, so that they don't feel like they're lost in the crowd.”

Kelly said after losing 12 teachers last year, the school hired 18 new ones.

Also to address school overcrowding, the Wasatch County School District is building a new $160 million high school next spring. Depending on the construction timeline, it could open by fall of 2025.

On Thursday, the board of education is expected to authorize borrowing most of the money needed for that project. A public hearing on the project is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Wasatch Education Center, 101 East 200 North.

Kelly said the high school’s other priorities this year include raising test scores, having more students take full schedules and increasing participation in extracurriculars.

“In our performance, we want kids who enter on grade level to stay on grade level, and what we want to do with the kids who may not be on grade level is increase them so that as we prepare them for the future, we're opening doors,” he said.

He also touted the school’s athletic programs this year.

The school will offer girls’ wrestling for the first time with new coach Hailey Corona. The girls’ soccer team also has new leadership under Tara Lundberg.

As school operations resume, Albert asked the community to be mindful of buses resuming their routes.

Preschool and kindergarten begin next Wednesday.

For a link to school calendars, visit wasatch.edu.

Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.