Cassville enrollment up by 26

Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Evelyn Dice started her first day of first grade with a bit of coloring. Kyle Troutman/

34 students opt for virtual learning

After a summer full of adventures in the warm sun and water, students are back in the classroom for the adventure of the 2021-2022 school year.

For Cassville students, that adventure started on Aug. 24, and 1,889 students were welcomed back onto campus.

Kenneth Saunders walks Collin Saunders, 7, to school with the help of Sage Saunders, 4, and crosswalk guard Suzy Parnell. Classes commenced in Cassville on Aug. 24. Kyle Troutman/

According to Merlyn Johnson, Cassville superintendent, that is an increase of 26 students from last year, with only 8 of those students coming from Shell Knob.

The 2020-2021 school year saw 1,830 students for opening day, and 1,857 for the 2019-2020 school year.

The largest class is the ninth-grade class with 174 students, and the smallest is fourth grade with 120 students.

Tina Linebarger helped Levi Linebarger, 4, find his backpack cubby as he entered preschool last week. Kyle Troutman/

“Class number size was expected based on previous years’ enrollment, except for ninth grade,” Johnson said. “Due to COVID, the 2020-2021 school year showed a decrease in enrollment. Several parents elected to educate their children at home. This year, we are seeing some of those students return.”

Currently, there are 34 virtual learners at Cassville.

“Last school year, many parents discovered that educating students at home or using a virtual format was more challenging than expected,” Johnson said. “Several parents reported that their children dealt with a variety of mental health issues associated with the isolation of virtual education. Due to these challenges, some parents have decided to send their children back to school this year.”

Students in new second-grade teacher Whitney Wenzel’s class recited the Pledge of Allegiance to officially start their first day of the 2021-2022 school year on Aug. 24. Kyle Troutman/

With the addition of new students, one thing that changes is the daily bus routes, but Johnson said this year, the routes have not changed.

“However, stops and times may vary from year to year depending on the addresses of new riders,” he said. “Things went smoothly. We have dedicated and passionate bus drivers who care about safely transporting all of our Cassville R-IV student riders.”

A big change for the 2021-2022 school year is welcoming the 32 new staff members to the district.

Preschool students at Cassville started their first day of school by watching TV as classmates all filtered into the room. Kyle Troutman/

“Several former students now returning as teachers,” Johnson said. “[New positions range from] first grade through high school.”

In addition to the new staff, a new course is being offered at the high school — aviation.

“We started the school year with great enthusiasm and admittedly no small amount of trepidation,” Johnson said. “We have learned as much about learning, teaching, and leadership in the last year as we have in our previous years combined in education.”

Bailey Roman, new second grade teacher at Cassville, got some thumbs up from her students on the first day of school after explaining how to show they have left to use the bathroom or go to the office or nurse. Kyle Troutman/

Johnson said as a staff, Cassville will work hard to apply the lessons learned to ensure they maintain continuity of instruction for its students.

“We fully understand that we are still very much in the midst of a health crisis,” he said. “However, this time we are better prepared by virtue of our previous experiences. We will do what we need to do to keep our schools open safely and our students engaged in the learning process.”

Cassville is beginning the year as a mask-optional district.

“With our buildings full of students, we will do everything possible to help them avoid being caught-up in quarantine circles,” he said. “Students and staff are encouraged to mask and physically distance themselves as much as possible. As a staff, we will work together to protect our mission of being able to provide in-person instruction for our students this school year.

“We are excited about getting back to a new normal of in-person learning and extracurricular activities for all of our students.”

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