Photo of vacant MCPS Stadium

Wesley Rolle

On the Grind Again

Pencils, Papers and Homework as Students and Teachers Begin the Year

October 10, 2017

Every summer comes to an end. However badly many people wish it not to, it does. But with the end of every summer comes the beginning of a new school year.

Indeed, it’s that time of year where students have traded their inner tubes for notebooks, jet skis for pencils, and their summer-fun, relaxed bodies for lecture-ready, studious minds.

But this doesn’t mean that the kids are ready to let go of their summer memories and adventures.

For most students in Missoula, the summer vacation means spending time outdoors, at the lake or in the mountains or at the river.

Staying out late with late friends and causing maybe a little too much trouble are popular traditions for teens all around the nation. And, possibly to parental dismay, the summer months allows kids to “catch up” on sleep, meaning not rolling out of bed until noon.

Travel is another special part of summer, with people really racking up those miles by going abroad or simply hopping over to the next town.

Senior Angie Millett reminisces about her travels abroad. “It was one of the best summers I’ve ever had. I went to Europe–I went to Germany for a while to visit family, and I went to Italy,” says Millett. “My boyfriend came and we just had the best time there.”

Millett’s not the only one who traveled this summer, though; other students also had adventures away from Missoula. Sophomore Garet Bayer took a nice vacay down to Sin City. “I went to Vegas for a week with my cousin and visited my grandparents,” says Bayer.

And while traveling is fun and interesting, some people like to think about the times they spent near and around home.

Senior Sandra Erskine traveled to Reno this past summer but also enjoyed the simple things. “Summer was stellar! I worked a lot and I spent a lot of time with new and liberating freedoms like being able to drive around,” she says.

Ah yes, the freedoms and glories of summer. Too bad they have to be squashed by unsympathetic teachers who want to drain the joy of summer vacation right out of the their students’ minds and souls so they can eat it for their afternoon snack while plotting torturous activities for their next lessons…Not really though.




Actually, despite popular student opinion, teachers don’t just live for assigning hours of homework and keeping you busy during school, they too enjoy their time off.

“It was good to spend time with my family and I got to go to quite a few of my teammates’ weddings,” says Amy Roberts, math teacher and the head coach for Big Sky’s volleyball program. “It was good to take a break and still get to do a lot of volleyball stuff.”

Similarly, a student favorite and veteran Spanish teacher, Jay Bostrom, more commonly referred to as just Jay, also enjoyed taking a break and focusing on his house projects. “It was my first summer not coaching in nine years so I had a lot of free time, which was really nice. I spent a lot of time on the farm and did stuff like refinance my house. And I built a patio and a deck and a lot of stuff around my place,” he says.

However, his summer didn’t start with his relaxing, home improvement projects.

Bostrom and some of students from last year spent the beginning of summer putting on a climate change and critical thinking symposium.

“It was really extraordinary and it was kind of a way to celebrate and close the year because it was so remarkable, what the students were able to accomplish. The reaction and response to it has been extraordinary. There have been articles in major papers and invitations to be on radio shows for these students,” Bostrom says.

And while some teachers were off helping and encouraging students to change the world, other teachers were busy planning weddings.

That’s right, three Big Sky teachers, Jake Arrowtop, Jessica Cook, and Shelby Ryburn tied the knot this summer!

And of course, with weddings come reunions. “That was exciting — Family came to town and I got to hang out with a lot of people I don’t see very often. It was fun!” says Ryburn.


Back to School


More than just that, Ryburn also had to prepare to get back to teaching with some very big shoes to fill.

David Jones, the adored chemistry teacher, has left on a scholastic trip to the Arctic for this first quarter of the school year and Ryburn, who student taught under Jones last year, has accepted the challenge of taking over for him in his absence.

“I spent some time getting ready to be Jones,” she says.

Every teacher at Big Sky has huge responsibilities and tasks to tackle, which, just like students, can stress themselves out.

For Roberts, being the head volleyball coach in addition to being a teacher can make it difficult to balance her teaching duties and the obligations she has for her team, but it doesn’t seem to stop her from getting what she needs to get done accomplished. “It’s really busy and sometimes I feel behind, but as long as I’m good at catching myself up and staying on top of things, I’m able to juggle everything” she says.

She’s also looking forward to being involved with the Health Science Academy. ““It’s been fun starting to work with the HSA  because they do lots of things that I now get to be a part of,” Roberts says.

As an additional positive, Roberts is now in her second year being a teacher at Big Sky, meaning she already knows what to expect. “It’s nice being a second year teacher because I have a lot of stuff already done so I’m more prepared than I was last year,” she says.

Besides the feeling of stress, the teachers are certainly happy about being back in school, but what about the students?


Mixed Emotions


Despite her general unenthusiastic feeling about being back in school, Erskine is looking forward to some of her subjects, saying, “ I’m really excited to learn — to take a lot out of this Psychology course that I’m taking.”

Fellow senior Millett is one of many ready to finish their high school careers. “Just starting my senior– I am excited about going into my last year of high school,” she says.

Senior year though, means there are more opportunities to take higher level courses.

“I’m taking a college math class online right now so I’m super nervous for it because… It’s freaking college math!” Says Millett.

Bayer, being a sophomore, will take the standardized CRT test this spring, which he admits he’s nervous for.

And just like Erskine, he wasn’t exactly thrilled about school starting up. Nonetheless, he’s enthusiastic about his academic and extracurricular activities. “I’m definitely going to be auditioning for the plays this year because last year I was in all three of them,” says Bayer. “And I’m excited for the cabaret show because I wasn’t able to do that last year because I was a  freshman and in Drama 1.”

So it seems that there are some mixed emotions among the students about the beginning of the school year.

But, in the end, there’s also something for everyone to look forward to, student and staff alike.

Freshman, welcome to high school.

Sophomores, welcome back.

Juniors, keep pushing through.

Seniors, please go to class, you’re almost done.

Teachers and staff, how do you do it?

Big Sky, here’s to another year; Let’s get started!


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