School gets underway for Big Piney students

BIG PINEY – The halls of Sublette County School District No. 9 came to life once again last Thursday, as Big Piney’s first day of school brought out eager learners dressed in new school clothes with school supplies needed for the upcoming year in hand.

Even though the new school year is under a week in, superintendent Steve Loyd says everything has gone smoothly so far. Students are settling into their new classes and a positive atmosphere has been present.

“I feel we had a wonderful start to the 2017-18 school year,” he said. “Staff and students seem to be excited to be back. The overall attitude seems to be positive.”

According to superintendent Steve Loyd, the district has 545 students enrolled for the year, which is down 25 students from the last count in May.

“Our numbers have been our only setback,” the superintendent said. “Our enrollment is lower than projected. LaBarge (Elementary School) is up a few and Big Piney numbers are down at all schools.”

The superintendent says lower enrollment isn’t going to keep the district down as they strive for success.

“I am very proud of the resilience our Sublette No. 9 staff, students, parents, and community,” he said. “Our current financial situation has not impacted our commitment to our students and schools. Puncher Pride!”

Over at Big Piney High School, principal Jeff Makelky and 185 high school students are gearing up for another successful school year. Enrollment is down six students from last school year, but features three foreign exchange students from eastern Europe, who he is pleased to have join the Punchers this year.

The school kicked off the year with an assembly and teachers greeted and welcomed everyone before discussing testing scores and goals for the upcoming year. For the ACT, Big Piney was above the state average in areas of English, math, science and composite scores. The school’s math average, 22, was the highest in the state and well above the state average 19.5. The student body also saw extremely high ACT writing scores. Areas that could use some work, according to the ASPIRE ninth-grade test results, include English and reading. In the ASPIRE 10th-grade test results, BPHS student results were higher than the state average in each subject area, which the principal was pleased to see. Statewide, Big Piney tied with Basin for fourth place in the top ACT composite score, with an average of 21.4. Meeteetse, which had 10 students tested, finished in the top spot just above Big Piney with a composite score of 22.1.

Makelky says the solid test scores are a testament to the student body and educators that work in the high school.

“Our teachers love what they do,” he noted. “It has been a very positive atmosphere.”

In terms of goals, the principal says he would like to keep the tradition of high attendance going strong. Last year, the school saw an attendance rate of 94.5 percent.

“That is very high; positive things happen if we get high attendance rates,” Makelky said. Overall, he says the student body, administrators and teaching staff are ready to make this year the best it can be.

“We’re excited about the possibilities of learning,” he said. “We have a tremendous group of young people. Our dedicated staff is excited to see what we can do this year.”

Over at Big Piney Elementary, the first day went seamless, according to principal Amy Bell.

“We had an open house on Wednesday night before the first day and had a good turnout,” she said. “We had an assembly with a back to school ‘rah rah,’ and saw a lot of smiling faces.”

Bell says enrollment is down, but luckily numbers didn’t drop as low as she had feared. As of the first day, the school was holding steady with 190 students. The school had solid test results last year, and she hopes to continue seeing students thrive into the current school year.

“We are looking forward to still providing a high quality education,” Bell said. “We are focusing on continued ‘exceeding growth.’”

She thanks the supportive staff, parents and eager students for making the school be a rising success.

“It has been a great start to the year,” she noted. “We have had a wonderful first couple of days.”

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