School districts start class next week

The first day of school is September 6 for several public and private districts in the Valley.

Families are reminded that school meals are no longer available free of charge to students due to the expiry of the Covid-19 waivers. Families with children who qualify for free or reduced-price meals should complete an application with their respective school district. Eligibility is based on income level and whether the district participates in the USDA National School Lunch Program. A child in a family of four with an annual income of $51,338, for example, would qualify for discounted meals, according to the USDA. If the family of four earned $36,075 a year, the child would qualify for free meals.

Here is the information provided by the schools.

Bigfork School District

First day: September 6

New Staff: Teachers Bailey Butler, Grades 5-12 Media Arts; Mindy Castruita, K-12 Life Skills; and Erik Heuchert, choir from fifth to final year; in addition to bus driver Erica Person and food service employee Brenda Koch.


Bigfork Elementary and Secondary School

Projected enrollment in primary: 396 students

Planned enrollment in middle school: 228 students

New staff: Teachers Joe Pitts, fifth grade; Shauna Pitts, fifth year; Kristin Vick, kindergarten; and paraprofessional Jenny Foley.

Bigfork High School

Expected enrollment: 356

New staff: Teachers Lucas Baumann, Grades 9 and 10 English; Tannar Cummings, science; and Brandon Piazzola, physical education and health.

Kalispell Montessori

First day: September 6

Estimated number: 86 students

New staff members: Kami Doty, upper primary teacher, and Katarina Houser and Garrett Myers, lower primary teachers.

New Programs/Programs: The school is offering Grade Seven this year.


Marion School

First day: September 6

Estimated number: 166 students

New Staff: Principal Julia Maxwell joins Marion School from her former position at Ulm Public Schools. The school also welcomes Arthur Fretheim who will work in special education.

Maintenance projects: The school is working on the renovation of the library.


Smith Valley School

First day of school: Students in grades one through eight start on September 6. Kindergarten children will participate in “Experience Days,” scheduled for September 6-8, with the first day on September 9.

Estimated number: 220 students

New Staff: Principal Dawn Matt joins Smith Valley School from her previous position as a music and Title I teacher at St. Ignatius Elementary School, where she also served as District Testing Coordinator, Montana Behavioral Facilitator School Safety Initiative and Liaison Officer. Smith Valley also hosts teachers Khrista Corpron, music; Cienna Degele, fifth year; Joshua Eastman, health improvement and Michael Fisher, fourth year; and Crystal Evanson, Testing/Title I Coordinator.

Maintenance projects: A new sidewalk has been installed and the school is working on improving its water system.

An open house is scheduled for 6 p.m. on September 20.


Somers-Lakeside School District

The district office welcomes new clerk Dennice Taylor.


Lake Elementary School

First day: September 6

Estimated number: 293 students

New staff: paraprofessionals Kimberly Banks and Irene Macias and teachers Brandi Boysun, kindergarten, and Mikela Olson, fourth grade.

Maintenance projects: The parking lot has been redone.

An open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on September 29.

Somers High School

First day: September 6

Estimated number: 270 students

New Staff: Somers Middle School welcomes Dean of Students and Athletic Director Jacob Alford and Office Manager Vanessa Barrett. The college also hosts teachers Jennifer Knepper, seventh-grade language arts; Cambrie Korpela, seventh grade math; Tina Rhoades, sixth-grade math; Jenny Scott, eighth grade language arts and Taylre Yarn, seventh and eighth grade Title I language arts.

St. Matthew Catholic School

First day: September 6

Estimated number: 158 students

New staff: administrative assistant Alex Porterfield and teachers Sophie Burke, third year; Madison Deitz, Spanish; Kellie Fender, part-time pre-K; Sara Harris, arts; Cady McClurg, kindergarten; Lisa Melnick, fourth year; Holley Petrick, freshman and Sydney Schroeder, speaking. Kari Salois joins the staff of the Early Learning Center as co-director with principal teachers Sherry Stockham and Carra Weber.

New curriculum, programs, activities: Theology of the Body, Institute of Excellence in Writing, Spanish and Golf.

Maintenance projects: redevelopment of the library and offices.


Swan River School

First day: September 6

Estimated number: 200 students

New staff: paraprofessional Tracy Boose and teachers Megan Adams, third grade; Darby Henderson, grades 5-8 math and grade 6 social studies; Monica Norris, grades six to eight science and eighth grade social studies; and Stevi Siloti-Raykowski, freshman.

New programs, programs, activities: MidSchoolMath program for students in grades five to eight.

Maintenance projects: The front parking lot has been paved; a basketball court and a walking path have been laid out around the recently installed playground.

An open house will be held from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on October 4.


Western Glacier School

First day: September 6

Estimated number: 65 students

Personnel changes: Kati Knutson is the new head teacher. She was part of the school’s teacher-led team for over five years.

Maintenance projects: The school is working to connect to the Internet by fiber optics by the fall.

Whitefish Christian Academy

First day: September 6

Estimated number: 135 students

New staff members: Teachers Anna Kron, second year; Courtney Lewis, Kindergarten; Amy Pino, third year; Holden Sieler, humanities; Andrea Smith, mathematics; Kelly Sumner, freshman; and classroom aides Malia Brown, Abbi Olson and classroom aide/French Anna Sieler.


Reporter Hilary Matheson can be reached at 758-4431 or by email at

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