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The Nevada Independent

Indy Education: Carson teen’s cancer battle shapes career goals

Plus, Storey County schools are getting a new superintendent, and Washoe County schools expand bus transportation to more students.
Rocio Hernandez
Rocio Hernandez

Good morning, and welcome to the Indy Education newsletter. I’m Rocio Hernandez, The Nevada Independent’s K-12 education reporter. 

This newsletter provides a recap of the latest education stories and highlights interesting educators, students, programs and other events and resources throughout the state. Click here to subscribe to the newsletter and receive it each Tuesday via email.

I want to hear from you! Send questions, comments or suggestions on what I should be covering to [email protected]

school buses
The Washoe County School District's central bus yard as seen on April 23, 2020, in Sparks. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

News briefs

🚌 More Washoe County students eligible for busing Starting Tuesday, more Washoe County elementary and middle school students will be eligible for transportation services thanks to a recent change that reduced the district’s walk zones for those grades. Before 2018, elementary school students who lived more than a mile from their school, and middle school students who lived more than 2 miles from their school, were eligible for transportation. But in 2018, the board voted to increase those distances, which are referred to as walk zones, by a quarter mile for these grade levels. Last May, the board voted to return walk zones for elementary and middle school students back to pre-2018 distances. 

The district estimates about 1,700 additional elementary school students and about 900 additional middle school students will be eligible for transportation under the change, which is expected to cost about $1 million to hire 13 new bus drivers and pay for increased fuel costs. 

💼 Storey County School Board offers superintendent job to internal candidate — During its Feb. 7 meeting, the Storey County School Board selected the district’s Human Resources Director Joe Girdner as its top pick for the district’s next superintendent. The board began searching for a new leader for the district after Superintendent Todd Hess announced he was retiring at the end of the school year. Hess shared the news of Girdner’s selection at the Legislature’s Feb. 8 Interim Finance Committee meeting.

School Spotlight

Carson City teen inspired to pursue career as pediatric oncologist after her own battle with cancer

Pioneer Academy senior Brooklynn Case. (Brooklynn Case/Courtesy)

Pioneer Academy senior Brooklynn Case, 17, is savoring her final year of high school after having her sophomore and junior years interrupted by her battle with cancer. 

During Case’s sophomore year at Silver Stage High School in Silver Springs, about 40 miles northeast of Carson City, she was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a type of bone or soft tissue cancer that primarily occurs in children and young adults, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. 

Case said she spent the rest of her sophomore year and beginning of her junior year in and out of numerous hospitals for surgeries and other treatments. 

“I was pretty much isolated for a year,” she said. 

Although she wanted to stay on top of her school work, Case said the toll the medications and treatments took on her made it too difficult.  

After she was declared cancer free in October 2022, the then-junior was determined to go back to her normal life and get back on track with her school work, but it wasn’t easy. 

“It was really hard for me to get back into being social with other people,” she said.

She also transferred to a new school, Pioneer Academy, in between her treatments. Pioneer Academy is an alternative school for middle and high school students in the Carson City School District that offers online and in-person instruction and touts its smaller campus and class sizes. (For comparison, last school year Pioneer Academy had a little over 200 students, about a tenth of the number of students at Carson High School.) 

Case said thanks to the school’s flexibility and the staff, she has earned all the credits she needs to graduate on time. After that, she wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology and eventually become a pediatric oncologist so she can help children who are going through a similar experience as what she went through. 

It’s made her look at life differently. 

“It was like a negative but also a positive impact because it kind of opened my eyes up to what life really is and that you shouldn't take anything for granted,” she said. 

Have a student or staffer who we should feature in the next edition of School Spotlight? Share your nominations with me at [email protected].

Reading Assignments

Douglas County schools drop controversial superintendent pick 

The Douglas County School Board is restarting its search for a new superintendent after trustees voted against approving an employment contract for their pick during a Tuesday meeting. 

Extra Credit

Tribe breaks ground for new school after old building linked to cancer deaths

The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Northern Nevada broke ground Friday on a new school that will replace a 70-year-old building tribal leaders have linked to many cancer deaths in the community, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. 

Featured social media post

North Valleys High School students show off their welding skills by making roses out of metal for Valentine’s Day. 


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