Garretson Blue Dragon Tales

March 2023

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Superintendent's News by Mr. Guy Johnson

Snow Days and Make Up Days

This winter has been one for the record books. I do not recall a time when we have had so many snow days. I have been asked by parents, students and staff if the district will make up all of the snow days. I’ll try to explain not only the district’s process, but also the requirements of the state with respect to the number of days that make up a “school year.”

The State of SD requires a certain number of hours for every school term. In grades 1-5, that minimum is 875 hours. In grades 6-12, the minimum is 962.5 hours of instructional time. Passing time, lunch, recess and all of those “non-instructional” time periods do not count towards this total. In our system, we are able to count 5.8 hours per day in the MS/HS and 5.6 hours per day in the elementary schools. There are some other particular rules associated with how schools are required to count instructional time, but the most important fact is that schools are required, by law to provide a certain number of instructional hours in a school year.

So far, in Garretson, we have missed a total of nine school days. On a “normal” year, we build two “snow days” in to the calendar that we do not make up. This year, due to an error, we had three days built into the system. With that being said, we would need to make up the remaining six days. Different school districts approach make up days in different ways. Some schools use any other days in the springtime that were planned to be “out of school,” and change the calendar to make them school days. In our district, we have chosen to add make up snow days to the end of the school year. Part of the reason to put those make up days on the end of the year is that we know that there are families who use those days off from school to take long weekend trips that are scheduled far in advance.

Ultimately, the decision to modify the school calendar rests with the school board. As long as we meet the minimum requirements for time, as laid out in the laws of SD, the school board could choose to require us to make up all of the days missed or only some of them. At this time, those days are added to the end of the calendar, and we will see how the rest of the school year plays out. In a typical year, March tends to be the month in which we get the most snow. I expect that the board will discuss the situation in March, and make a decision regarding the calendar at the April meeting. I am hopeful that March comes in and goes out more like a lamb.

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from Mr. Chris McGregor, MS/HS Principal

March is almost upon us and that means it will soon be testing season. From March 1 to May 5, students at GMS (grades 6-8) and GHS (grade 11) will be taking state assessments in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science. The assessments measure student achievement of our state’s standards in these areas and the score reports will provide information specifically in the following areas:

•English: Reading, writing, listening, and research

•Math: Concepts and procedures; problem-solving and modeling/data analysis; communicating reasoning

•Science: Physical science, life science, earth & space science

The assessments are given through an online computer application and are unique in the way they adapt to a student’s question responses. This is important as it provides questions that are appropriate for your child’s level of learning. As a result, each student has the same opportunity to succeed and maintain a positive attitude towards testing. These assessments are not timed and their grades will not be impacted by their performance. However, the assessment does serve as a way for the school to analyze how well we are helping students meet the standards.

There is no need for students to study in preparation for these assessments. We do, however, ask that students try their best and get plenty of rest the night before testing. It is important for students to come to school on test days.

This testing is very important for your child and also for the Garretson School District. Thank you for supporting your child and our school during this assessment period. Please contact us if you have any questions. We know that Garretson’s students will help us to understand the great strides our students have taken in meeting our school and state standards in learning.



•Starting in Kindergarten, too many absences can cause children to fall behind in school.

•Missing 10% (or about 18 days) can make it harder to learn to read.

•Students can still fall behind if they miss just a day or two every few weeks.

•Being late to school may lead to poor attendance.

•Absences can affect the whole classroom if the teacher has to slow down learning to help children catch up.

•Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school – and themselves.

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Little Dragon Corner by Mrs. Katie Hoekman, Elementary Principal

The beginning of March marks an important event in education: Read Across America Week or also know as Dr. Suess Week. As educators and parents, we all know and understand the importance of reading to and with our children. Over several years now, researches have put a lot of effort into the Science of Reading. A large part of the Science of Reading focuses in on the Big 5 of Reading including: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Students with explicit instruction, systemic implementation of a program based on Science of Reading components, diagnostic testing, and multi-sensory learning help guide students to a proficiency reading level. Science of Reading teaches how our brain learns how to read through a process which is unlike learning how to speak which comes naturally. Our brain needs help learning how to read. Below is a great graphic which explains the parts of the brain and the purpose in learning how to read.

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Tech Tips with Mr. Matt Schrank, PK-12 Tech Coordinator

ROOMS is now available!

There are a couple of questions still looming out there with what Rooms is all about. If you have the Garretson App, and have received a Guardian invite, simply click the invite and create a password to be able to access Rooms on the App. Teachers can send messages and announcements through the app specifically for their classroom. We hope this cuts down having to send out school-wide messages, as well as give parents a peak inside each classroom with activities that teachers and students are doing!

Click the link below to our website that may answer some questions:

Rooms Info

Or copy and paste into a browser:

If you have any questions, fill free to contact Mr. Schrank at the school!

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March Calendar Link

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From the Desk of the Activities Director, Kevin Steckler

Participation in High School Athletics Has Long-Lasting Benefits

High school athletic programs have been studied for more than a century. Early studies focused on how athletics help create an identity and generated pride for participants and community members. These studies evolved to explain how participation brought about improvements in physical health, stress management and academics. Today there are numerous studies that focus on all types of participation benefits, but what sometimes goes unappreciated is the impact that high school athletics has on students after they graduate.

Participating in high school athletics has long-lasting benefits, especially when athletic leaders create an environment that challenges and rewards the growth mindset. When participants are supported in this way, they develop lifelong habits that last beyond high school.

Three off the most important participation takeaways that students continue to practice after graduation are: 1. Building Relationships Through Team; 2. Understanding Limitations and How to Push Past Them; 3. Foundations of Fitness

Last month I discussed Understanding Limitations and How to Push Past Them

*This Month…Part 3

Foundations of Fitness

Being an athlete in high school allows students to experience physical activity while still maintaining mental focus. It is this focus that allows high school athletes to set a strong foundation for fitness habits long after graduation.

This may seem like common sense for school leaders; however, the United States faces an obesity epidemic where lifespans are cut short due to unhealthy nutrition and exercise habits. Regular exercise lowers stress levels and blood pressure, and it increases self-esteem.

Regardless of the sport, students who participate in athletics are more likely to continue to exercise for healthy body and mind. Furthermore, some athletes will continue to participate in physical activities not only to find the physical and mental benefits, but also to build relationships with others by becoming part of a local recreation team and part of a larger community.

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Breakfast/Lunch Menus Link

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Children with Disabilities by Mrs. Kayli Coburn, MS SPED teacher/PK-12 SPED Director

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Garretson Administration and School Board


Mr. Guy Johnson, Superintendent

Mr. Chris McGregor, MS/HS Principal

Mrs. Katie Hoekman, Elem. Principal

Mr. Jacob Schweitzer, Business Manager

Mr. Matt Schrank, Technology Administrator

Mrs. Kayli Coburn, SPED Director

School Board Members

Mr. Shannon Nordstrom, President

Mrs. Kari Flanagan, Vice President

Mrs. Tana Clark

Mrs. Jodi Gloe

Mr. Andy Hulscher

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