Gladbrook-Reinbeck students return

Students at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary gathered in front of the school Monday for a flag raising ceremony to start the 2021-22 school year. Contributed photo

Classrooms at Gladbrook-Reinbeck were full Monday as the district joined many others around the state welcoming students and staff back for the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Both the junior high/high school and the elementary conducted flag raising ceremonies to open the new school year.

The Elementary building held a Character Strong assembly, headlined by a remixed version of Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” performed by Brenda Egesdal.

At the secondary level, teachers and students will be approaching the new year with a “You Do You” motto.

“We want to educate our students to be independent thinkers that are creators and risk takers in the realm of learning,” Junior/Senior High Principal Andy McQuillen said.

The Gladbrook-Reinbeck Marching Band attended the flag raising ceremony on Aug. 23 and provided a patriotic performance. Contributed photo

Enrollment at the junior/senior high level is up by double digits compared to last year. McQuillen reported this year’s freshman class is among the strongest in number.

Elementary Principal Shaun Lehmann worked on a project over the summer to send out letters to all of the families with open enrolled kids in the Gladbrook-Reinbeck area, inviting them to reconsider Gladbrook-Reinbeck for the upcoming school year.

In a letter to parents, Superintendent Erik Smith outlined the district’s approach toward the COVID-19 pandemic in the upcoming school year.

In accordance with new state legislation, masks will not be required for students, staff or visitors. They will however be encouraged, though not required, on buses.

Public health departments will not be conducting contract tracing, which means close contacts will not be required to quarantine.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck students Jadyn Mummelthie, Prycely Beard, Jada Cheville, Kailey Larsen at the junior/senior high school on their first day back to class. Contributed photo

The district will not be offering a hybrid/remote learning option this year. When a student is absent, arrangements will be made with families to keep students up to date.

Cleaning procedures put into place during the pandemic will continue and families are encouraged to monitor their child’s health and keep them home if they are feeling sick.

McQuillen felt his staff has a much better grasp of teaching through a pandemic with tools like online learning than they did this time last year.

A new focus for the secondary curriculum will be the implementation of social emotional learning, which teaches students self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills.

“We feel our students need this type of education,” McQuillen said. “This will be a learning curve for all of us, but we feel it will be beneficial for our students in the long run.”

Principal Andy McQuillen raises the flag at the school in Reinbeck as Iowa National Guard members and Gladbrook-Reinbeck students Paul Brockett and Zane Stice stand by in observation. The two students had just returned from basic training over the summer. Contributed photo

There are three new certified staff at the junior high/high school level.

Bethany Amos is the new 8-12 Math Teacher. Amos graduated from UNI and has been a substitute in the Cedar Falls School District since she graduated in December.

Amber Gerringer is the G-R 7-12 Guidance Counselor. She is a graduate of Buena Vista and Emmaus Bible College. She has previously worked in AGWSR and Dike-New Hartford School Districts for her internships.

Andy Dudley is the new Alternative Education Teacher. Dudley is an Iowa native, but has spent 17 years in California in various teaching roles. Andy’s wife, Angie, will also be joining G-R in the Elementary School. Ava and Alec Dudley will be attending G-R this fall too.