BELLEVILLE - It's the first day of school for students at Belleville Mennonite School, and the theme for 2013-2014 is shaping up to be one of growth and change.
New Superintendent Starla Fogleman said attendance is up by about 25 students this year.
"Our middle school has really grown," she said, adding that there are 216 total students enrolled at BMS for the coming year.
Fogleman said the school has added a new computer lab for middle and high school students. She said 20 desktops feature Intel core 15 processors, flatscreen monitors and Windows 7 operating systems. Five computers also have been added to the high school library.
"I just think it's really important that our students use up-to-date technology," she explained.
Fogleman said a collection of iPads will be granted to the school through the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit. A cart of the devices will be available for the reinforcement of basic learning skills in elementary school classrooms. A second cart will be for high school classrooms, she said, and will include digital textbooks.
The school's online presence also is expecting a change. Fogleman said BMS is "freshening up" its logo, and the new one is expected to be revealed by the end of September. The new logo will accompany a renovated website that also has not been unveiled yet. Fogleman said it will feature an abbreviated web address at www.bmsprek12.org. As of Monday evening, the school's website was still accessible at www.bellevillemennoniteschool.org.
In addition to advances in the school's technology, Fogleman said BMS is launching a new writing program that will start in kindergarten and continue through high school. Kid Writing starts with sounds of letters, then expands on that and continues to build over the years, she said. Fogleman said the school has never had a writing curriculum before, and it's one that the faculty is developing on their own.
"I love writing. I think that's one of my strong points," she said.
Likewise, Fogleman said she feels it's important for students to learn to express themselves well in writing. At this time, the program is starting in primary grades. Fogleman said it will likely expand to intermediate next year.
Upgrades include security at BMS, where brand new cameras have been installed outside the school. Fogleman said the elementary building is locked down all the time, and there is an audible sound that signals visitors at the high school.
"I feel really good about the system we have in place," she said.
For more information about Belleville Mennonite School, call 935-2184 or visit www.bellevillemennoniteschool.org.