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Focusing on the Whole Child

Great Falls Elementary School aims to teach more than academics.

As Ernest Leighty prepares to begin his second year as principal of Great Falls Elementary School, renovations are on the horizon and he could not be happier.

“They’re working on the drawings this year, so the actual renovations probably won’t begin until the 2008-2009 school year, but they will be substantial so we are very excited about that,” said Leighty. “They are going to renovate the whole building and there’s going to be a lot of good things happening to the school’s entire layout.”

Leighty said he enjoyed his first year at Great Falls Elementary, particularly because the school enjoys active parent involvement and participation on every level.

“It was a great year and it’s a great community,” said Leighty. “They are very supportive — very similar to the communities I came from at Colvin Run and Spring Hill.”

LEIGHTY ESTIMATES a student enrollment of around 580 in the coming year, and said the school will also integrate fourth graders into its one-year-old school-based Gifted and Talented Center. Leighty also hired four new full-time teachers, as well as some resource staff and one part-time teacher.

“The new goals outlined by the School Board are refocusing us so that there is more emphasis on the whole child, instead of just academics,” said Leighty. “So we’ll definitely be putting an emphasis on that this year.”

He added that he is pushing his staff to work together on projects, and also hopes to see more in-house collaboration within the Langley High School pyramid.

“The staff is getting together to come up with more collaborative types of activities,” said Leighty.

Back to School Night for Great Falls Elementary School will be held on Monday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. for kindergarten through third grade, and on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. for fourth through sixth grade. An orientation for new families will be held on Thursday, Aug. 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Students will have the opportunity to take a tour of the school and parents will be able to meet with teachers and specialists. The orientation will be followed by an open house from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Students can visit their classroom and meet their teacher and classmates for the upcoming school year.