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Mon, Feb. 17

OUR SCHOOLS: Newest HUSD school making strides

Granville Elementary School is the newest school in the Humboldt Unified School District. Granville opened for students at the start of the 2004-05 school year, but not at its current location on Stover Drive in Prescott Valley. Since construction was not completed, teachers welcomed students at the Bradshaw Mountain High School East Campus on Robert Road.

"Starting school on the high school campus helps to make the teachers and staff a cohesive group," said computer lab aide Robin Berardi, who also serves as the unofficial school historian. "We started the year at the high school and then moved into our new building during the Christmas holiday."

Principal Diana Green sees Granville as a community of teachers, parents and students "working together to solve problems and make things better."

As such, Granville's student body includes children living within the school's boundaries and students from beyond its boundaries.

"I think Granville has the largest number of variances (students outside the boundaries) in the district," Green said. "Parents are choosing to send their children here."

As a writing assignment, fifth-grade teacher Amy Kidd asked her students to interview their parents about why their children were attending Granville.

From those responses, Kidd concluded that Granville's safe location and new building is an initial draw. Teacher involvement or dedication is another commonly mentioned reason, along with teacher communication and creative teaching strategies.

As important as writing is, Green said "the number one subject is reading. It is all about reading. We want to create the love of reading in our students."

Granville students participate in the Scholastic Reading Counts programs. As student reading ability and comprehension improve, they receive rewards.

"Students earn points for reading. They can trade those points for books," Berardi said.

"Everywhere students go, reading is happening," Green added. "During the morning announcements we also read things students write."

To start students thinking, Green and her staff have included such things as mystery writers, student problems, trivia and singing in the announcements.

Like other HUSD schools, Granville offers its students before- and after-school programs. Second- and third-grade students can join the Early Reading Club. Fourth- and fifth-graders participate in a lunchtime reading club. Granville also has an early-bird gifted class that offers students extra assistance.

Granville does not offer students a separate art class, but students can join the after-school art club.

"Our teachers donate their time to these clubs," Green said.

Granville is preparing its fifth-grade students to move up to middle school.

"We have departmentalized the fifth grade. This is in response to the middle-school teachers saying the students are not ready," Green said. "The fifth-graders have to change classes, keep agendas, and they are responsible to three different teachers for five subjects."

Granville's principal firmly believes in "teachers guiding students into rigor. And, when we do, students rise to the challenge."

Part of the rigor is teaching kindergarten through fifth grade how to make speeches.

"The kindergarteners start with sentences, and then move onto speeches," Green said.

As important as it is to focus on students' growth, Green thinks it is "very important for teachers to constantly develop their knowledge and grow. You have to grow as a teacher to grow students."

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