Marysville Getchell High School opens its doors for its first day of classes ever

MARYSVILLE — It was not only the first day of the 2010-11 school year for all the schools in the Marysville School District, but it was also the first day of school ever for the Marysville Getchell High School campus.

Academy of Construction and Engineering Principal Shawn Stevenson acknowledged that the yet-to-be-completed Ingraham Boulevard caused some traffic congestion on the morning of Sept. 7, but pointed out that four of the school's bus routes arrived at the campus 10 minutes early.

"We're looking at shrinking those travel times over the course of the next week," Stevenson said. "Some of the buses got here a little late, and there was some confusion about drop-offs that led to traffic backing up to 84th Street, but overall it went extremely well. The kids were mature and did what they were asked, and we had little to no concern about it."

Stevenson and Bio-Med Academy Principal Judith Murdock agreed that going from a student population of nearly 3,000 on the Marysville-Pilchuck High School campus last school year to roughly half that number of students on the Marysville Getchell campus this year has simplified their jobs tremendously.

"This morning was fantastic," Murdock said. "We were able to have great conversations with the students, and got them to their correct buildings in a short amount of time. Within half an hour, I was able to greet every class of students in our Small Learning Community. We're all concentrated in one location now, rather than having to go outside and find all our different classrooms."

Murdock believes that that having each SLC occupy its own building will clear up student confusion and increasingly facilitate focused learning, accountability, a sense of community and better relationships as time goes on.

Students interviewed by The Marysville Globe shared the view of Stevenson and Murdock that Marysville Getchell already has its own identity as a school, unique from that of Marysville-Pilchuck.

"The buildings are fresh," sophomore Alex Wilson said. "It's like being on a college campus."

"It doesn't feel like a high school at all," fellow sophomore Mikayla Hood said. "It's like being in the city."

Sophomores Rebecca Bradley and Eryka Alexander appreciated features such as the openness of the architectural design and the presence of committed science laboratory rooms, while junior Nick Fay remarked on accoutrements such as internally heated and lit handrails, plus a campus layout that he credits with making between-class passing time simpler. Halfway into their first day of school, though, the biggest difference from Marysville-Pilchuck that the students noted was how their new surroundings had already changed their teachers' instructional process.

"Last year, the teachers introduced themselves and were all about getting to know you," Alexander said. "This year, there's more of a focus on how the year itself is going to go."

"It's more on the whole rather than the individual," Fay said.

ASB President Chandler Forsythe admitted that starting school on an entirely new campus in her senior year is an adjustment, but she feels that the concentration of the SLCs will give each one a greater internal unity.

"It was hard working on our constitution over the summer," Forsythe said. "We're lucky to have this nice new campus, though. I just hope people don't forget that all of us at Marysville Getchell are the Chargers. You can't really compare us to Marysville-Pilchuck because we're a different school but, at the same time, I wouldn't want to see a rivalry develop between our two schools because we still have ties with them. We shouldn't forget where we came from."

Stevenson echoed Forsythe's assessment of the tricky balance to be struck in Marysville Getchell's emerging school culture.

"We'll see how the identities of the SLCs and the campus as a whole grow over the years," Stevenson said. "The voters gave us a fantastic opportunity by approving the bond for this building, and we aim to pass on opportunities for learning to the kids. Despite opening a year early, there hasn't been nearly the chaos or commotion of previous years' first days. Our students have been calm and respectful toward our nice new buildings. They take pride in this facility. The fact that we've opened so smoothly is a testament to the students, the parents and the staff."

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