On Jun. 5, 2021, 40 students, including three valedictorians, will graduate from Pershing County High School, population 161. Early on, administrators capped graduation attendance at 250, as required by Covid restrictions in place when the planning began back in February. 

However, over spring break Governor Sisolak announced that, by May 1, school districts would take over Covid mitigation decisions. He’s confident that every county in the state can reopen to 100 percent capacity (with masks) by June 1. 

Pershing’s graduation ceremony, which typically draws over 400 people, takes place four days later. Last year’s ceremony was virtual.

The announcement sent administrators back to the drawing board. “None of us want the ceremony to be the first event that brings people from all over the place with no controls,” said Superintendent Russell Fecht at the school board meeting on Monday, Apr. 20. 

The planners haven’t settled on a number yet. Fecht predicts more than 250 attendees but not as many as in past years. Each graduate will have a limited number of tickets to dispense as they choose.



Masks still required

Even after June 1, the statewide mask mandate will remain in effect. The governor said that counties can-not pass resolutions to override the directive. Likewise, the school board has no authority over the matter. When asked when he’d lift the mandate, the governor pointed to vaccination rates.

“As soon as I can get as many people in the State of Nevada vaccinated as possible,” he said.



Other news at the high school

Fifteen students will participate in the high school physics trip from May 24th through 26th. They’ll travel to Las Vegas for the school’s first overnight approved trip. All the students will be Covid tested before-hand. 

The National Honor Society induction ceremony will occur the last day of school, Jun. 24, a change from its usual nighttime slot. Reynolds and Coni Brinkerhoff decided to make it part of the school day. 



Coal Canyon High School

Currently, Coal Canyon High School only allows a teacher and one unit of men into the education build-ing, one at a time. Even so, the population has been busy with quarter, midterm and final exams. Others are taking high school equivalency pretests, in hopes of stepping up to the equivalency exam. 

“It’s been a slow, grinding process, but they’re getting it done,” said principal Neil Gallagher.

When men from the different units can mix and work together, the prison will reopen to visitors and teachers. The goal is to reach a vaccination rate of 70 percent throughout the institution, he explained. 



Many staff positions filled; still some openings

The school district is changing over 23 percent of its teaching positions this fall. According to the district’s web page, they’re still looking for a high school science teacher, school nurse, special education teacher and psychologist. They also hope to fill certified positions at the prison, middle, high and elementary schools. They are in the process of offering jobs to some applicants they’ve interviewed.



SBAC

On Apr. 19, the elementary and middle schools began SBAC (Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium), an online computer adaptive test. The tests last all week and align with common core standards. As of 2019, 17 member states give the tests.

“Tech-wise, it was a huge win,” said Kelly Lusardi, the Lovelock Elementary School principal. “Thank you for all the new Internet capabilities that allowed them to test without getting booted off all the time. It’s usually a nightmare.”

The SBAC is not without controversy, however from March through June all Nevada public school stu-dents in grades three through eight take the exam. It’s part of the standardized testing landscape for most children.



Other happenings at LES and PCMS

Lovelock Elementary canceled its carnival this year. However, track and field day will take place on Wednesday, June 2. The last day of school is Thursday, June 3.

Shea Murphy, the middle school principal, presented the 2021-2022 school performance plan.

“This is a case where the state bureaucracy listened,” said the superintendent. “The stuff we’ve been doing felt like jumping through hoops. This document is more user-friendly, and we’ll be able to attach a grant component.”

Murphy said the PCMS students are enjoying the renovations to their playground, paid for with grant money.

They now have soccer goals, a designated area for football, a permanent volleyball net and tetherball. The basketball courts will be resurfaced this summer. They’re also adding a baseball diamond.

“My rule for the kids at lunch is that if they are sitting at the tables chatting or playing a game, they have to wear a mask. But if they’re actively playing, they do not. You can count on one hand the number of kids that sit and play games. They want a mask-break, so we gave them more to do, and they love it,” said Murphy.

Board member Mike Mancebo also had good news. The William N. Pennington Foundation of Reno is giving $178,000 to pay for the repair of the community pool.

 However, Pat Rowe is still accepting donations. The money will pay for other needed repairs at the well-loved landmark. Instead of emptying its pockets for the pool, the recreation board will fund Lovelock’s many summer programs.