October 14, 2013 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT — Superintendent of USD 258 Schools K.B. Criss told more than 500 Humboldt High graduates Saturday night their pride and support have helped develop a positive and progressive culture for USD 258.
He spoke during the biennial reunion of HHS graduates of 40 years and more.
Criss said the district’s enrollment had grown each of the past six years, meaning additional teachers and support staff were hired, despite state aid cuts of $1 million over the past three years.
“A great deal of the growth has been from families that live outside the district,” he said.
Because of the district’s transformation into a digital-only curriculum, the school library has been transformed into a state-of-art technology center.
“It is in use from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every school day,” Criss said, and “there always are kids still there at closing time.”
The interactive program allows for students to ask questions during presentations, Criss said. Humboldt is one of a few districts in the nation to favor technology over textbooks.
The transition — iPads and laptop computers have replaced textbooks — had a few glitches at the start, he said, but has settled into a process that will better prepare Humboldt graduates to go on to college or assume work-a-day lives.
“We have spent $750,000 the past five years on improving educational opportunities without raising taxes,” he said.
Criss said in 2008-09, the district had 495 students attending kindergarten through 12th grade. This year traditional student headcount is 604, and another 149 are attending the district’s virtual school that gives nontraditional students an opportunity to complete their high school educations.
The enrollment increase, coming at a time when many area districts are experiencing declines, is “a tribute to a lot of people who care about kids,” Criss concluded.

THE REUNION began Friday night with an informal get-together in the high school.
Saturday night’s banquet was steeped in nostalgia and included graduates from many states. A highlight was when Bonita Doty Strack called former cheerleaders up front — the event was in the Community Fieldhouse — to lead all in singing the school song.
Loren Korte, class of 1962, will lead the planning for the next reunion, Oct. 9-10, 2015.
Alumni raised funds for four $500 scholarships. Recipients from the class of 2012, Michaela Bartlett and Megan Phillips, and the class of 2013, Cheyenne Schomaker and Kristin Todd, were recognized.

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