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The 2019-2020 academic year is about to get underway at the Stanwood A. Murphy Elementary school in Scotia, and Superintendent/Principal Amy Gossien, who is in her second year in that position, is looking forward to continuing academic achievement and growth. The first day of school in Scotia is Monday.

Gossien was one of two speakers at the recent quarterly mixer of the Rio Dell-Scotia Chamber of Commerce mixer, held Aug. 16.

“We are projecting an enrollment of 160 students for the 2019-2020 school year, down from 180 at the end of the 2018-2019 school year,” Gossien said. “Although we, like many schools in the county are in declining enrollment, we still have been able to maintain programs and offer a high-quality education.”

Murphy will have one classroom per grade level (transitional kindergarten to eighth grade) with an average class size of 18 students, and a mix of veteran teachers and newer teachers with a few years of classroom experience.

“Our school climate is what I am most proud of,” Gossien said. “We have a great group of students, families and staff. We say that we are the ‘Murphy Bear family’ and it truly feels that way.” (The Murphy mascot is a bear). She said there are close personal connections between students and their families and the school.

“We have many parents who bring their children to attend our school so their children can have the same educational experience that they did,” Gossien said. “This is one of the benefits of such a small school.”

Students attending school in Scotia enjoy the use of a computer lab, iPads in grades TK-5, individual Chromebooks (laptop computers) for each student in grades four through eight and interactive white boards in all classrooms. Teachers use Google Apps for Education including Google Classroom to prepare older students for high school.

Gossien said the after-school program in Scotia is free for all students and provides a nutritious snack, homework time, physical activities and enrichment activities including a cooking club, technology, fine arts, and crafts. The after-school program runs from the end of school each day until 6 p.m.

“Our cafeteria is second to none,” Gossien said. And she gave a shout out to the woman who manages the cafeteria.

“Our cafeteria manager, Gayle McKnight, received honors as a Humboldt County Classified Employee of the Year last year,” Gossien said. “Our cafeteria provides free breakfasts for all students, and nutritious, delicious lunches.”

One of the questions asked at the chamber mixer was about consolidation of the Scotia and Rio Dell School districts.

“The schools (in Scotia and Rio Dell) are the heart of their communities and each have their own personalities,” Gossien said. “We are both great schools, and offer some of the same but also different services and programs.”

She said she and her staff currently work closely with the staff and administration of the Rio Dell School District on reports and major projects, and both districts have collaborated on teacher training as well. Additionally, Rio Dell allows Scotia to use its gym for athletic team practices.

“At this point, neither school is small enough to require consolidation,” Gossien said.

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