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Teachers Welcome Back Students on First Day of School

Santa Barbara and Goleta Union school districts mark the beginning of a new year

After three months of sleepy summer quiet, the courtyard at La Colina Junior High School filled with squeals of excitement Monday morning as seventh- and eighth-grade students tumbled out of their parents’ cars and into a new school year.

Hugging friends and teachers they hadn’t seen all summer, hundreds of La Colina students kicked off their first day of school for Santa Barbara and Goleta Union school districts.

Megan Cotich, seventh-grade Life Sciences teacher, hugged returning eighth-grade students as they filed past to their classrooms.

“We’re her fan club,” one of the eighth-graders said.

“The squeals started at 7:30 this morning,” Cotich said. The first bell rang to an equal amount of groans and yells of excitement.

Cotich welcomed her first seventh-grade class of the morning to the school and assuaged their insecurities about starting the school year in a new place. The courtyard went quiet as the last students scurried to class, and Cotich closed the door to her classroom.

“You are in really good hands,” she said.

Principal David Ortiz said he has high expectations for this year at La Colina. Test scores were high last year, he said, and he hopes that trend will remain this year.

“We certainly have our work cut out for us,” he said.

La Colina Junior High School seventh-grade teacher Megan Cotich hugs a former student between classes Monday.
La Colina Junior High seventh-grade teacher Megan Cotich hugs a former student between classes Monday. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Goleta Union Superintendent Kathy Boomer checked in with Noozhawk on Monday afternoon and said the school day had gone smoothly for the district. She said the district is looking forward to participating this year with the national charity First Tee, which promotes character development through golf. The district’s P.E. teachers have been trained for the program, and all of the equipment has been donated.

“We’re looking forward to a great school year,” Boomer said.

Santa Barbara School District Superintendent Brian Sarvis said the district saw achievement gains at all levels last year, and he’s eager “to capitalize on our success.”

“We attribute the gains in student learning to great teachers who plan together, constantly monitor student progress with benchmark assessments, and work on perfecting their craft,” he said, adding that some of the biggest gains had been seen among students who are English learners.

“The results vary school by school, but those with the biggest gains are the schools that use benchmark assessments frequently, use them to guide their planning for lessons, stay focused on what students are learning, and plan systematic interventions for students who are not keeping pace,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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