Cuddeback School continues to draw students

Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer

Beacon Correspondent

In the seven years that Ronan Collver has been superintendent and principal of Carlotta's Cuddeback School, programs have increased while student-teacher ratios remain low.

Collver said the school works hard to "bring the best of everything to our students in a family friendly environment."

The school runs an afterschool program using an Access Grant where it provides EXCEL free to all K-8 students until 6 p.m.

"We are very careful with our funding and use it wisely, so that we can provide services to each student without cost," Collver said.

The afterschool program includes year book, art club, cooking club, academic intervention program, music, and gardening to name a few.

Technology is increasing in schools and Cuddeback has responded to the changing learning environment by providing three computer labs.

Enrichment and the arts are also important.

"We have a full band, choir program, and classroom music," Collevor said.

Diversity and a changing world have brought many needs to young children in the learning environment.

In past years, many school had a state-funded program called PIP, or Primary Intervention Program, but it was dissolved in many schools due to budget cuts. Cuddeback still runs the program, which is now fully funded by the school.

"This is a great and crucial child directed outlet for our students," Collver said.

Toward the end of summer, the school holds a get reacquainted session where class size is small and the teacher can meet with the students to give more specialized and specific to each child's needs academic and social support. The first through third grade students do creative writing and focus on their academic needs.

Collver describes their school and programs saying, "Our kids feel we care and that goes so much further with their academic and social success."

Cuddeback also runs a Friday food backpack program. This helps to ensure their students in need are getting the nourishment they need over the weekend to be ready for their academic week. The school also has a full cafeteria.

Sports does not get lost in the mix as Cuddeback has volleyball, cross country, track, cheerleading, basketball and even Little Logger's for the 1st through 4th grade.

Lindsi Reback, whose grandfather founded the school, is a second/third grade teacher.

Lisa Love Vasiloff discovered Cuddeback School when she was searching for a preschool for her child, Keena who is now a 3rd grade student there.

"I walked on campus and I knew it was the right fit for my child," she said. "Cuddeback builds confidence in the child as a whole."

Vasiloff does not even give the hour and twenty minute round trip everyday a second thought saying, "It is so worth the travel. They all have relationships with the students and the younger students are respected and known by the older students. They look out for each other."

The school held their 2nd annual spring dance for the Kindergarten through 8th grade. The school uses a buddy system and this dance is a great way for them all to interact with each other and the staff in a supervised and appropriate environment. "All of the kids love the dance and it is so great to watch how the younger ones draw the older ones out of their shells and help them to just relax and have fun."

The buddy system is used throughout the year in Dr. Suess Day where the big kids read to the younger kids and the younger read to the older getting support when needed. Collver said, "When you pair an older kids with a younger kid who is struggling it helps pull that younger child up and provides the opportunity for both to become more confident children."

Graduation at Cuddeback for 8th grade has become quite the production and past families, teachers, and staff still come back each year to watch the 3 hour presentation. Collver said, "We have slide shows that include the children over the years at Cuddeback and the children get to talk about each other. Each year there are new special memories and the teachers each reflecting on the graduates from the years they taught them."

The Summer Fun program will continue this summer as part of the EXCEL program. The program also runs through Christmas and Spring breaks. Students get to participate in several field trips where in the past they have visited Harbor Lanes, Bounce-a-Palooza, movie theaters, miniature golf, Grizzly Creek State Park, and participated in swim lessons.

In addition to Elementary School Cuddeback runs a Preschool Program for 3 and 4 year olds. Recently the school has had the return of a long time beloved Preschool teacher, Melody MacMillan, whose has lived in the community for years. MacMillan's children all attended Cuddeback and MacMillan used to run the Preschool. Collver said, "We are so very excited to have the return of MacMillan. She is such a great fit for our school."

The preschool also has an aide, Penny Calvo. The program runs during the school year with the 3-year-old class on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. with no lunch program. The 4-year-old preschool class is on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. with a lunch program.

Cuddeback Preschool works with First 5 and HCOE to provide Kindergarten readiness assessments and State licensing standards.

Cuddeback is now accepting enrollment in Kindergarten. You can find out more information about the process, meet the teacher, Mrs. Sagaser, and any other Cuddeback School information by calling 768-3372.

Photo by Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer/Beacon

Students of all ages enjoy the large playground at Cuddeback Elementary School. The large play area is one of many things that draws so many families to the school.