First day of school brings changes to Island students

The first day of school for students at Vashon public schools will be Tuesday, Sept. 8, and with opening day comes a lot of activity and a few changes from earlier years.

Chautauqua Elementary School

Students and parents are invited to an ice cream social and open house from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4. They can see their new classrooms, meet their teachers and enjoy a cold treat on the playground.

At all the schools, start times have changed slightly from years past. Chautauqua students will start at 9 a.m. and be released at 3:10 p.m. The first day is a half day, and students will be dismissed at 11:40 a.m.

Chautauqua will host an open house for parents on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

At all the schools, the district has implemented professional development days, when students arrive to school two hours late in the mornings, which will be roughly every other Thursday.

Chautauqua Principal Kate Baehr hopes to have the school offer enrichment offerings on those days, tapping into the skills and creativity of substitute teachers, current district employees.

She envisions the school will host three 12-week offerings with six sessions each — covering such topics as music performance, languages, science, cooking, gardening and more. The price per session would be $120.

Baehr, a working mother of a Chautauqua student herself, said she thought of the idea knowing that professional development time is vital for teachers but sometimes difficult for families. As a teacher in Edmonds, she had experience with a similar program.

“I thought it was a great thing,” she said.

Whatever is offered, she said, will be “fun, thoughtful, engaging enrichment” and will help families have options for enrichment and child care throughout the year.

McMurray Middle School

Orientation for students new to the district in sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade at McMurray will be from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 4. Parents are welcome to attend. Students will meet their teachers, walk through their class schedules and get their locker assignments. Parents will have an opportunity to hear from a panel of other parents and find out about volunteer opportunities at school.

McMurray will begin at 7:50 a.m., 10 minutes later than it did last year. The school day will end at 2:25 p.m. First-day dismissal will be at 10:35 a.m.

Student photos will be the second day of school, Wednesday, Sept. 9. Retakes will be done on Oct. 28.

McMurray will hold its annual open house from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Vashon High School

An orientation and barbecue for freshmen and new students will meet from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today, Sept. 2. Students will also have their photos taken for the yearbook and I.D. cards at that time.

School will begin at 7:45 a.m. this year and dismiss at 2:35 p.m. Students will be released at 10:45 a.m. on the first day. Parents’ nights at the high school will be Sept. 29 for seniors, Oct. 1 for juniors, Oct. 6 for sophomores and Oct. 7 for for freshman.

Open house at the high school will meet on Wednesday, Sept. 23.


Because of a fiscal difficulties, the school district has reduced the number of bus routes this year from 12 to 11, with fewer stops on each run and no mid-day kindergarten bus service. These changes are saving the district more than $100,000. Complete bus route and scheduling information can be found at

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