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By Dan Rudy 

New principal about campus


Colter Barnes took over Monday as the new secondary principal at Wrangell High and Stikine Middle schools. Barnes replaces Monty Buness who retired at the end of the last school year.

“I’m excited to be in Wrangell,” said Barnes. “It’s good to be here.”

He said there has been no shortage of hospitality shown him since arriving. Community members have invited him on hikes and over to their homes for dinner as well as showing him around town. “People have been wonderful,” Barnes said.

Previously, Barnes was the itinerant principal at Kokhanok and Igiugig schools in the Lake and Peninsula School System.

“It had its own challenges,” he said of the post, particularly from a logistical standpoint. Barnes said it could also be complicated to periodically readjust to different communities and work atmospheres.

In Wrangell, he said, there will be some initial challenges as well. In particular, new state education standards will be taking effect, as will the Alaska Measure of Progress assessments. The rubric for evaluating teachers has also changed.

“Those are big pieces coming down the pipeline,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure it out.”

However, Barnes said he is not concerned that Wrangell’s schools will have difficulty meeting the new expectations.

“This is one of the top-performing districts in the state,” said Barnes. “Wrangell’s upped the bar.”

Wrangell’s current graduation requirements already require more days of attendance and courses to graduate than those mandated by the state

“I think it’s great to jump into a system ... with higher expectations,” Barnes said.

The other challenge Barnes anticipates is filling staff vacancies. The middle school will be getting a new secretary, and both the middle- and high schools will be getting a new activity director and 11 new advisors and coaches.

“We’ve lost a lot of experience,” Barnes said, referring to the recent retirement of several long-time employees. On the other hand, Barnes finds confidence in the energy of the staff and faculty at the schools.

“I’ve never seen so many people in the school during the summer,” he said, adding that teachers are not being paid for their time.

“There’s a great support team here,” Barnes said, pointing to the certified staff and an engaged community. “They (faculty) have a lot of support.”

Coming into this position, Barnes hopes to build on the strengths of Wrangell’s schools. A big part of that will be through communicating with the community. “Just getting people talking,” he said, gathering ideas and building consensus.

In all, the new secondary principal is excited to get started.

Registration begins next week for elementary, middle and high school students. For more registration information, see the schedule on this page, below.

The following week, teachers and staff will focus on professional development. “A lot of that will be transition to the new standards,” Barnes explained.

The first day of school begins Aug. 25.


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