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School starts this Tuesday
Dusty Grant Brady is delighted with a Paw Patrol backpack, one of many backpacks given away by the Southern Standard as a Marketville door prize. Dusty is entering kindergarten. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

There’s one day left of summer vacation with the new school year beginning this Tuesday at 7:45 a.m.

Schools will be filled with students bright and early and many are hopeful for a normal start to the year. Over the past two years, COVID-19 has cast a negative shadow on going back to school, but despite the small uptick in recent cases Director of Schools Dr. Grant Swallows is hopeful normalcy is back for good.

“I think ultimately we consider it normal now,” said Swallows. “We are just continuing with the same practices as far as health and safety go. I am hoping that we are going to get back and have to not worry about shutdowns or things like that.”

There are a few changes in the school system this year, including construction projects and new administrative staff at Warren County High School.

Chris Hobbs will start his first year as WCHS executive principal on Tuesday. Hobbs also hired new academy principals Phillip King, Penny Shockley, Anna Geesling, Anthony Lippe and Jacob Dunn. The ongoing construction at the middle school has resulted in one drop-off point instead of three.

Swallows says along with the changes in staff and construction changes, new safety measures have been put in place. Local funding and several grants allowed the school district to add preventive measures including a device called “Nightlock Lockdown” which prevents unauthorized entry in classrooms by keeping doors sealed shut.

“Over the course of the summer we talked about some things we have done safety wise. That seems to be on everyone’s minds, rightly so after what happened in Texas so we are working on that,” said Swallows.

Teachers are also excited to get back to the classrooms and meet their students. West Elementary teachers have been working hard getting their rooms ready, making lists, and getting prepared for the new year. Fourth-grade teacher Ashli Gore sent cards to her new students to let them know she was excited for them to start school.

“I sent cards to all of my students who are coming up just to tell them I was excited to meet them and see them at registration and just how excited I am. I was trying to tell them how excited I am so they would get excited because I know it is hard to transition from being home all summer to being at school in a new grade with new kids, new teachers, new faces. I was trying to ease those worries a little bit,” said Gore.

Kindergarten teacher Jackie Reed says many of her students have never been in a class before and she hopes to make the adjustment easy and fun.

“Specifically for kindergarten, a lot of our kids have never been in a school building or classroom. So they don’t know procedures, they don’t know routines, and they don’t know how to walk down the hall. It is very scary and a big adjustment, but we try to make it as easy and fun as possible,” said Reed.

Teachers and other faculty members are ready for the new school year and are ready to focus on teaching the students.

“I am really proud of what we’ve done over the last few years and I would like for us to just come back and focus on teaching kids and giving them good experiences. I think our teachers are ready for that,” said Swallows.