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Changes announced for 2017-18 school day schedules

Posted on: June 12, 2017

Adjustments have been made to the bell schedules at all schools. The changes will be in place when school starts in the fall.

The changes will reduce differences in start and stop times among same-level schools. Elementary schools will be in two bell schedule groups rather than nine different schedules, and they will gain 20 minutes of instructional time per day. Middle schools will all start and stop at the same time.

Research has shown that students benefit from more sleep, but the natural sleep and wake cycles are later for older students and earlier for younger students. Adjusting the schedule will allow older students to start a little later in the day.

The changes are also expected to make the district transportation system more efficient.

Bell schedule for all schools

Parent letter


Character education poster winners receive framed art prints

Posted on: June 11, 2017

Winners of the annual character education poster contest were recognized at the June 5 School Board meeting. The winners at the elementary, middle and high school levels received framed prints of their artwork. Awards were presented by Amanda Miller.

The annual contest is sponsored by the Albany Public Library. Students were allowed to submit original art in any medium and must feature one of eight character traits: honesty and integrity, self-discipline, courage, social responsibility, kindness, respect, justice and personal responsibility.

There were 625 entries from students in grades K-12. Winners are:

  • Grades K-2 winner: Paige Morse, Liberty Elementary School
  • Grades 3-5 winner: Jazmin Palencia Rosel, South Shore Elementary School
  • Grades 6-8 winner: Bella Forney, Memorial Middle School
  • Grade 9-12 winner: Trevor DeFord, South Albany High School

School Board honors spelling bee winners

Posted on: June 8, 2017

This week, the School Board recognized the winners of the county spelling bee. The students were top spellers in the district and county competitions.

Pictured are Brynna Gritter Kenneke, Logan Falotico, Michael Franzwa, Dru Huddleston, Paige Rogers and Stephanie DeMello.

Read more about the competition. 

WAHS graduating seniors visit students during annual senior walk

Posted on: June 6, 2017

Before students walk across the stage to get their diplomas on graduation night, they walk through the halls of their elementary and middle school. The now annual event is a reminder of how far they have come and an inspiration to the students whose graduation dates are several years in the future.

On Tuesday, June 6, West Albany High School students visited Memorial and North Albany middle schools, Timber Ridge, Albany Christian and Central, Clover Ridge, Fir Grove/Oak Grove, Liberty, North Albany, South Shore, Tangent, Takena and Waverly elementary schools.

South Albany High School graduates will visit schools on June 13.

GAPS teachers will spend summer break learning new skills

Posted on: June 2, 2017

Photo: Democrat-Herald

Two GAPS teachers have plans for travel and educational enrichment over summer vacation. West Albany High School teacher June Morris and Memorial Middle School teacher Kerrie O’Brien will travel to Chile in July with 10 other Oregon teachers to learn about the geography of Northern Chile.

The following story in the Democrat-Herald explains the details:

Two Albany teachers will be sharing a new perspective with their science and geography students this fall after spending part of their summer studying in northern Chile.

June Morris of West Albany High School and Kerrie O’Brien of Memorial Middle School will travel to Chile from July 5 to 22 with 10 other Oregon teachers.

The trip’s costs are covered courtesy of the Center for Geography Education of Oregon. The center, housed at Portland State University, organizes and pays for travel opportunities for its member teachers as part of its mission: to improve geography education throughout the state.

“The idea is that teachers who teach about the world should travel the world,” explained Morris, who teaches Advanced Placement European History, AP Human Geography and freshman geography at West.

The opportunity to travel enhances not only the teacher’s training but the student experience, because students tend to be much more engaged when they’re hearing a firsthand perspective, added O’Brien, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science and a Talented and Gifted enrichment class at Memorial. And, she said, it may inspire more students to travel themselves.

This will be the teachers’ second overseas trip with the Center for Geography Education in Oregon. Both traveled to Turkey in 2012.

In Chile, the teachers will be exploring various geographical areas, from the arid Atacama Desert — “There are places it has not rained for as long as there have been people there to report it,” O’Brien said — to the Willamette Valley-like terrain of the Central Valley.

Both teachers will use the experiences to craft lessons for their students on their return.

O’Brien, whose seventh-graders study plate tectonics, is planning a unit on how Chileans coped with a 1960 earthquake considered the most powerful ever recorded. Both Oregon and Chile lie near subduction zones, which means multiple opportunities for studying what might be done locally in advance of the devastating quake expected to someday strike the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Morris said she hasn’t got a lesson plan fully developed yet — that’s part of what will be done through the trip — but as an AP European History teacher, she’s looking forward to seeing the legacy of Spanish colonialism and its effect on indigenous populations.

Both teachers say they joke that geography is “the mother of all subjects,” but at the same time, neither one really see that statement as a joke at all.

Until she took a professional development course with the center, then called the Oregon Geographic Alliance, O’Brien said she thought of geography lessons as filling in blank maps with crayoned rivers and mountain ranges.

After that experience, she said, she’s learned the subject is really about the essence of the human experience: how people’s surroundings affect them, and how they in turn affect those surroundings. Everything from travel to trade, language development to social changes, is affected by the placement of a society in the world.

“Knowing where stuff is is kind of important, but it’s much more important to think geographically,” O’Brien said.

Not all teachers get much exposure to geography in that way, Morris added. That’s why the center’s work is so critical, she said: It helps teachers to develop that understanding of geography as an essential topic.

“It’s really excellent professional development,” she said. “We’re supposed to go out and be geo-evangelizers.”