Back to school: TCSS welcomes students for the 2018-2019 school year

Published 6:01 pm Thursday, August 9, 2018

It was a busy day in Troup County Thursday as public schools opened their doors to begin the 2018-2019 school year.

The brand-new Clearview Elementary School welcomed students for the first time, but there was excitement all around the county as students went back to school. At Berta Weathersbee, students adhered to a new uniform policy, while Callaway High School faculty and TCSS administrators welcomed students with big signs and high-fives.

“What we are doing here today is welcoming the kids and making them feel like the culture and climate is changing on our campuses,” said TCSS Superintendent Cole Pugh, who was holding a “sure you can” sign at Callaway High. “We just want to start off with a positive feeling about school this year.”

At Clearview, many parents parked and walked their children to the classroom for the first time. The elementary school was built to replace Whitesville Road Elementary School, but attendance boundary adjustments meant students from multiple elementary schools met for the first time on Thursday. 

“We are just excited to have smiling faces come in,” said Debra Brock, principal of Clearview Elementary School. “We have done a lot of prep work to be prepared for today, so we are excited to have students and family coming in this morning at our first official day of school at Clearview Elementary.”

Many parents were concerned about how the traffic flow would work on busy South Davis Road, but there were no issues on Thursday morning. Two police officers directed traffic, while others guided cars through Clearview’s parking lot.  

“We pre-planned and pre-planned to try to make it flow as easy as possible, but as you can see we have two officers out front and we have a service helping us monitor traffic,” Brock said. “Already, we’ve figured out that we are going to do a few things differently tomorrow to make it user friendly and flow as best as possible. It’s a learning curve, trial and error. We have a game plan for today, but we’ve already seen some things we need to to make changes to make it run even smoother tomorrow.”

Most parents had already been to Clearview to get a look at the school, but Thursday was the first time to see it with students inside.

“It is wonderful. At registration, we did a walkthrough and I love it,” said mom, LaTrisca Strozier, who was dropping off her daughter, Zi’lylah Sellars at school. “They are very friendly and it looks like it’s going to be a great school year.”

Parents of students at Berta Weathersbee loved the new uniforms students were wearing. Berta is the first school in the Troup County School System to introduce uniforms.  Students can wear a yellow, navy blue or powder blue shirt. Both male and female students can wear light brown or dark brown khakis and shorts, and female students can wear navy blue, light brown khaki or dark khaki dresses and skirts. 

“I think it will cut down on bullying and students can be able to concentrate more on their studies and not what someone else has on,” said Tammy Adcock, mother to twin first graders Taylinn and Toryn Ford. 

Students at Callaway High School were also greeted by a car from All Pro Chevrolet, a vehicle that students can win at the end of the school year through the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program. It’s the second year that TCSS will hold a vehicle giveaway at its high schools.

“We will be celebrating Oeisha Jenkins’ win from last year on the announcements this morning,” said Callaway High Prinipal Jonathan Laney, referencing the student who won the car last year. “She will be encouraging her classmates to try to win the new one.”

The winning student will have to meet the guidelines of their high school, but all three require consistent attendance, good grades and no discipline referrals. 

“I’ve been one of the biggest supporters of PBIS in legislature since its inception, and I’ve seen the difference that it makes in schools and the school climate and the school culture,” said Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange), who was also part of the group greeting students at Callaway High. “In my home county, I just want to support it in any way I can. I had gotten a notice about what they were doing here this morning, and I wanted to be here to both support the students as well as the teachers and the team that does this because this does change the climate of the school.”

Just down the road at Callaway Middle School, Omega Psi Phi fraternity welcomed students back with high-fives and smiles.

“They are having a great reaction,” said Titus Heard, who organized Omega Psi Phi’s morning at the school. “We have been giving them pens and pencils and smiling and welcoming them back to school.”

Amy Thornton is the new principal at Callaway Middle after formerly serving as the Callaway Elementary School principal. 

“[Students and parents can look forward to] outreach from the school into the community. [We are] seeking parent involvement,” Thornton said. “We want parents here supporting us not only with extracurricular, but with academics. We have a lot to do when it comes to achievement and growth, and we are looking forward to parents supporting their students at home in that effort.”

For more photos from the first day, visit The LaGrange Daily News on Facebook.