Columbia's new Battle High School opens for summer classes

Monday, June 3, 2013 | 2:58 p.m. CDT; updated 9:10 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 4, 2013
The first day of classes are held at Muriel Williams Battle High School on Monday, including a leadership class which teaches students about the skills they will need to take on leadership roles at the school.

COLUMBIA — Principal Kim Presko welcomed students to Battle High School for the first day of summer school Monday.

"I got on the first bus and said 'You guys are making history; you are the first bus at Battle High School full of kids,' " Presko said. "We took pictures of the kids getting off the bus. That was a cool culmination of everything we've been doing."

The secondary summer school program is offered for ninth- through 12th-grade students who live in the Columbia school district. Classes are held at Battle, Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools.  

Opening for summer school allowed the staff at Battle High, which was dedicated Sunday, to make sure everything is running smoothly by the time the full school year begins in August. 

Finding trouble spots

"The first thing we noticed this morning is that our bells didn't work," Presko said. "Although we tested them over and over again, when we went to dismiss the kids the first hour, they didn't go off."

The staff also learned that the school needs more signs to direct students to classrooms and other important areas of the building. That way they won't have to rely on teachers to tell them where everything is.

"The atmosphere is very exciting and relaxing at the same time," Presko said. "We just have such a beautiful facility here, and the kids just feel at home."

Starting traditions

Incoming students had the opportunity to apply for the Spartan Leadership Team, a group of 30 who will plan and discuss ways to move Battle forward.

"The big idea is exploring the reality of what it means to be a leader in your high school," said Jill Villasana, Spartan Leadership teacher.  

The class is not only about coming up with ideas for traditions but also how to make them a reality.

"We talked about when you walk into the school, what do you want it to feel like?" Villasana said. "Now, what do you do to make the school feel like that? It's your responsibility to take the action to make that come to fruition." 

The leadership team will help plan Jump Start Day, scheduled for Aug. 19. That's when incoming freshmen and sophomores will come for a half day to get acclimated to the new school.

"We've purposefully not done a lot of planning," Presko said. "We want the kids to plan that day."

Working together

Junior Ariel Walker, a student on the leadership team, applied for the group to help create Battle traditions, especially in the first year. She hopes to see the team bond. 

"I want to see everyone being able to work together, rather than just a few groups, Walker said. "I know we're a big group, but working together is a really good thing."

Junior Kyra Miller, another team member, expects that she and the school will benefit from the work of the class.

"I'm looking forward to leaving this class a stronger leader than I came in as," Miller said.

Hearing from teachers

The teachers at Battle are just as excited as the students for the future of the high school. 

Staff member Raina Bass teaches health during the morning and is assistant principal in the afternoon. During the regular school year, she will teach special education and be the assistant volleyball coach.

"This morning, I had a fabulous class with no problems," Bass said. "I think they're excited about being here. I came from teaching junior high so I'm looking forward to teaching older students."

Soccer coach Jack Rubenstein was able to work with players at the first day of camp this morning.

"It's all new," Rubenstein said. "I'm looking forward to everything. There was a lot of anticipation for today. It's exciting to get going now."

Presko went to many of the morning classes to see how they were running.  

"Kids are learning, teachers are teaching. It's what we've been planning for," Presko said. "This is it, the final day. We're here."

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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