New Valley arts school gets district approval

The Kalmiopsis Community Arts High School’s charter was approved by the Three Rivers School District Board of Directors at its Sept. 14 meeting.
KCA has been in the works for years, the brainchild of Valley educators: Kaci Elder, Kimiko Maglio, Melissa DeNardo and Ryan Forsythe, with previous support from Sara Kinstler and Gina Lo Preste.
“I’m reminded of our beginnings, a group of parents and teachers sitting around a picnic table at the Dome School in 2014,” Forsythe expressed in a statement responding to the charter’s approval. “It’s been a lot of hard work to reach this point, and I’m excited to see where this goes from here!”
The four co-founders all plan to play a role in KCA’s operations once its doors open, and will refer to themselves as “Teacher Leaders.”
“With the flurry of emotions that have developed from the decision of pproval, I think immense gratitude is what is most present for me,” remarked DeNardo. “This is not only an accomplishment for our team but for our incredible community.”
Elder added, “I can’t wait to meet the teens! We’re looking forward to finding KCA kids — the public, private, and homeschooled youth who’d like to try something new.”
Maglio agreed, stating, “It is very exciting to be in this phase of opening KCA where we can work hand in hand with more people in our community to bring this high school into fruition!”
Earlier in the meeting, Zone II Board Member Susan Fischer-Maki spotlighted the district’s recent third Soul for Soles event during the board’s Say Something Positive segment.
“Families from the community are able to come and get a new pair of shoes for their children,” Fischer-Maki said. “It was wonderful. The thing that really struck me was what was happening for the parents; just the joy and bit of extra confidence knowing their children would be going to school tomorrow with a new pair of shoes.”
Zone V Board Chair Jennifer Johnstun echoed Fischer-Maki’s praise: “I am very impressed with the Soles event… They’re not shoes that came from a discount bargain store; they are really nice shoes. And the kids I saw getting them too were very excited about the shoes they were getting and I think they’ll be proud to wear them.”
Zone IV Board Member Jamie Wright used her time to give a shout-out to Josephine County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police for doing their part to make schools safer, remarking that she’d seen them posted outside schools to enforce speed limits.
TRSD Superintendent Dave Valenzuela discussed the district’s back to school event during his report to the board. He recounted that over 650 individuals attended.
“When it was over, everyone was super thankful and kind of blown away at being together in that space… It has reverberated into the school year.”
The superintendent added, “The feeling is unbelievable. I’ve never had a better start as a principal, director or superintendent. People are stoked to be back at school.”