Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Aurelia Pollard

NHS prepares for the school year in a technical way


August 13, 2016

As the summer comes to a close, kids, parents and teachers alike look forward to the new school year ahead. This year, students returning to Niwot High School (NHS) can expect new technology in the classroom, as well as updates throughout the school.

Eric Rauschkolb, who is going into his third year as the principal of NHS, said the most exciting thing he’s looking forward to this year is the rollout of new iPads for all students.

The teachers have been preparing for the new technology since last year by receiving their own Mac laptops and iPads, as well as attending staff workshops. Rauschkolb said the iPads will be delivered to the students a couple weeks into the school year, which they will have to sign an agreement for “about appropriate use and educating them and their parents on expectations.”

“Every student is going to need the ability to access the web and do research,” Rauschkolb explained, “because every job out there requires us to be able to navigate technology and use it effectively.”

Not only does Rauschkolb want the students to have the best education possible with the iPads, but he also hopes they learn how to use them appropriately. “We want to make sure we’re providing those tools to our students and helping them learn how to best use it,” he said.

The iPads will be assigned to the students for the whole school year, and will be used both in the classroom and at home for homework assignments, research and as textbooks. Rauschkolb said that although most people are enthusiastic about the new technology, others have expressed concerns.

“Of course there are some reservations because I think we’ve all seen adults and teenagers not use [technology] in a productive way,” Rauschkolb said. “So part of us rolling out the iPads is helping students learn time management, [and] learn when to use it and when not to because that’s an important skill for adults to have as well.”

Rauschkolb understands the challenges this change might bring and knows there will be hiccups along the way. But even with the challenges ahead, he said they won’t be blocking social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram on the iPads.

“I think for the most part we’re hesitant to do that because we want to use it as an education process,” he said of blocking social media. “There are some educational purposes for things like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So we don’t want to use a hammer to take away a lot of these tools when some of them can be used for education.”

Rauschkolb understands the new iPads, which he emphasized are district property, are a technology that won’t be going away anytime soon, "so we can’t just pretend like it doesn’t exist,” he stated.

The St. Vrain Valley School District is giving iPads to all high school and middle school students district-wide. Rauschkolb knows this advancement wouldn’t be possible without the leadership of the district and the support of the community.

“We’ve been very blessed because we live in a community that supports education and has voted to support us financially,” Rauschkolb said. “That’s allowed us to be on the forefront of preparing our students and giving them the best education we can.”

In addition to the new technology coming to NHS this year, paneling on the building was replaced over the summer and Rauschkolb said talks of solar panels are in the works too.

“They’re kind of piloting the solar program for the schools through Niwot High School,” he explained, "so we’re pretty excited to be working with the district to see how we can do that.”

A new library might be making its way to the school as well in the near future. Rauschkolb said the school board will be voting soon on whether to put a bond issue on the ballot in November, which he believes is likely.

“If they decide to do that and the bond passes, then there’s going to be a significant portion of money dedicated here towards Niwot High School in terms of a new library,” Rauschkolb said.

NHS is also introducing 12 new teachers to its staff this year, which Rauschkolb said is a little more than normal, but they had a need after former teachers either retired or moved away.

New staff members include Kelly Christensen (counselor and cross country coach), Stephen Dimit (English, and boys and girls soccer coach), Colleen Ford (science), Michelle Rickley (math), Stephen Tobin (math), Casey Vavrina (Spanish), Dylan Wittstruck (math), Jared Fox (math), Laura Marshall (vocal music), Luke Knapton (physical education), Brandon Schawel (art), and Annie Chang (Chinese).

In addition to new teachers, NHS also hired a new counseling secretary, new attendance clerk and new media clerk.

With the start of a new school year come many possibilities and opportunities for students, and Rauschkolb just hopes they take advantage of everything the school has to offer.

“The key to having a good high school experience is getting involved outside the classroom,” Rauschkolb said. “Whether that’s playing a sport, joining a club or joining an organization—you have to do something outside the regular school day that gets you plugged in.”

Niwot High prides itself on having nearly 30 clubs for students to join, with activities from community service, hip hop and bollywood dance, to video games, chess and more. Rauschkolb is looking forward to seeing the new Habitat for Humanity Club take off this year after being introduced last year.

“We’re one of the few high schools that has one, and we’ve been partnering with our local Habitat to get that up and going,” he said of the new club.

Even if students don’t see themselves doing a sport or joining the band, Rauschkolb knows there’s a club or activity for them at Niwot. “There’s really a place for everybody here at Niwot High School.”


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