VC principal’s first day on the job ‘exciting’ |

VC principal’s first day on the job ‘exciting’

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer
Karen Woodmansee/Nevada Appeal First-graders Chelsea Nevin, left, and Kaitlyn Hames, spend their lunch period together on the first day of school at Hugh Gallagher Elementary School in Virginia City on Monday.

The first day of school wasn’t the only first for Michele Van Voorst.

Monday was also her first job as principal of Hugh Gallagher Elementary School in Virginia City.

“I’m very excited to be here,” she said. “The big challenge is figuring out where I’m supposed to be. There are a lot of schedules.”

Because Hugh Gallagher is a small school, about 125 students, the staff takes turns monitoring recess, lunch period and the hallways.

“It’s so busy in the principal’s office that the day goes by more quickly than when you’re teaching,” said Van Voorst, who taught in the Carson City School District before coming to Storey County.

Brecken Hicks, 9, of the Virginia City Highlands, said he was excited too.

“It gets kind of boring after the summer,” said the fourth-grader.

Brendan enjoys math most, and said he especially likes working on his multiplication and division problems. But math isn’t everything; recess is also high on his favorites list.

“We play, we do something different every day,” he said, listing the games Foursquare, tag and touch football as recess activities.

His mom, Sonja Hicks, is having her first day of school, too. She is the new kindergarten teacher at Hugh Gallagher.

First-grader Kaitlin Hames thinks school is fun, especially homework, she said, because she is good at it. That, spelling and recess make her happy.

She hopes to be a teacher when she grows up, she said.

Classmate Chelsea Nevin prefers kickball to homework, and wants to be a lifeguard some day.

Over at the Virginia City Middle School, Todd Hess is starting his third year as principal.

Teachers at VCMS interact with students in more than just the classroom, he said.

“Because we don’t have a food program, the staff give up their lunch hour to feed the kids,” he said.

Eighth-grader Taylor Ballinger likes the new planners the school came up with, she said.

“It gets our parents involved in our school,” she said.

Taylor is an athlete and this year she will participate in basketball, volleyball and track. But she likes homeroom a lot, too.

“We just hang out and sometimes have snacks,” she said.

Erik Goldsworthy, also in eighth grade, was sad to be back, as were his friends Alberto Alvarez, Matt Conners and Kregg Lemon, who said they spent a lot of time at the pool this summer.

They were, however, looking forward to basketball and track seasons.

Teacher Connie Robertson said VCMS was a good school because of the high teacher-student ratio.

“I really like the small class sizes,” she said. “Fewer kids can fall through the cracks.”

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.