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Sedona-Oak Creek School District started school Wednesday, Aug. 9, and events leading up to the big day welcomed back students and teachers alike.

Although teachers have officially been back since Aug. 4 — and some even before that — Monday morning saw teachers, administration and district staff from all four schools come together to kick off the school year.


The event gave the district a moment to celebrate a “happy new year,” Superintendent Dave Lykins said.

“It’s an upbeat, positive opportunity for all our employees, our teachers, our board and our district staff to begin the school year together,” Lykins said. “We’re looking forward to putting together a collaborative approach where students are at the center of all the decisions we make.”

It’s Elementary, My Dear

Parents and students met teachers and toured classrooms at each school during the open house nights leading up to the first day of class.

At Big Park Community School’s open house on Monday, Aug. 7, the school’s coyote mascot greeted incoming students while principal Debbie Jones filled parents in on Big Park news.

“We had a fantastic turnout of parents,” Jones said. “There’s so much excitement and anticipation in the air for the first day of school.”

At West Sedona Elementary School’s open house Tuesday afternoon, parent Sami Worssam stopped by her daughters’ classrooms to check in with their teachers before the first day.

Sage and Aspen, both eager to get to school, are in kindergarten and third grade, respectively. Sage is enrolled in West Sedona’s Montessori track, where she shares free-flowing, open class space with children in preschool up to second grade.

“Sage is a child of expression and curiosity,” said her teacher Patricia Falsetto, who goes by Miss Patty.

She added that having attended preschool last year, Sage is eager to help out the cadre of newcomers to her class.

“I’m looking forward to making new friends,” Sage said, “and spending time with my teachers.”

But these new preschoolers already have a couple days up on Sage: Every year, Miss Patty invites the new children for an hour to an hour-and-a-half of instruction for two days before the official first day of school. It helps alleviate those first-day jitters and makes for fewer tears in class, she said.

Meanwhile, Aspen is transitioning to a traditional third-grade classroom this year after spending her first school years with Miss Patty. She said she’s looking forward to reading all the chapter books she can get her hands on.

“We just want them to love school,” Sami Worssam said.

Secondary Studies

Later that night, open house at Red Rock Junior High and High School started with an all-hands-on-deck assembly in the Sedona Performing Arts Center. Junior high principal Jay Litwicki and high school principal Darrin Karuzas introduced their staffs, and students checked in to get their schedules.

Then, maps and schedules clutched in hand, junior high students and parents wandered up the campus’ slopes in search of classrooms, while high schoolers, for whom classhopping was old hat, lounged at their lockers and in hallways before popping in to greet their teachers.

“I can think of many words to describe teaching — boring is not one of them,” said Laurel Romm, a high school science teacher who left her career in aerospace engineering when she got bored of it and now has been in the classroom for the past 24 years.

She teaches chemistry, physics and earth science and said watching her students think outside the box to solve the problems she poses to them never gets old.

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