Several schools will have new principals and some have gone through some renovations and “sprucing up” during the summer break.

Elementary schools will host an open house for their students on Thursday, Aug. 1, 3 to 5 p.m., with the middle and high schools holding their own open house from 4 to 6 p.m. for their students Wednesday, July 31.

Afterschool programs continue at the elementary level with a $10 registration fee for the year and an $8 daily fee. Parents can register their students for the program during open house.

Also, school hours for elementary schools have changed slightly from last year; the new hours are 7:50 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

The new Early Learning Center will be up and running at 800 Madison Street in Danielsville, which also houses the school board offices and several other departments. The Early Learning Center (ELC) will be home to pre-school students and a couple of Special Ed classes.

Breakfast is free for all students again this year.

Colbert Elementary

Principal Angela McCarty said there are 248 students set to attend Colbert as school opens next week.

McCarty said all parents should know that those students staying for Afterschool are provided a snack, help with homework and recreation time.

Colbert will also continue Camp Raiders, an after school academic program for third to fifth graders that is by invitation. The program will begin this fall.

Students will find new paint in the halls, outside doors and the gym. The outside of the building has been pressure-washed and the gutters have been cleaned. The school has also had some safety upgrades over the summer and new playground updates (new mulch, concrete pads under benches, additional shelters on playgrounds). The Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) sponsored the resurfacing and painting of the basketball court on the playground and added topsoil to the back playground for the basketball court.

New faculty and staff for this year include: second grade teacher Rose Stovall, third grade teacher Morgan Hollingsworth, fourth grade teacher Allison Whitehead, Special Ed teacher Amanda Carter, music teacher Shauni Derington, counselor Katelyn Bennett and secretary and FTE coordinator Faith Blalock. A new Special Ed parapro will also be hired soon, McCarty said.

McCarty encourages parents and students to attend open house where they can come and meet teachers, gather information on transportation, sign up for Afterschool and purchase a new Colbert Elementary shirt for this school year.

School begins at 7:50 a.m., but parents can drop off their children as early as 7 a.m. to go to the gym and/or have (free) breakfast, which is served from 7 to 7:45 a.m. Students can also get a “grab and go” breakfast between 7:45 and 7:50 a.m.

“For the first time in over a decade, we are excited to have art through our STEAM class as part of the Specials rotation,” McCarty said. “During STEAM/Art, students will take a hands-on approach to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics.”

Though there have been no changes to the pickup and drop off procedures for car riders, McCarty said they want to remind parents that they will not accept transportation changes for students after 2 p.m.

“We are excited to continue a variety of parent-involvement activities this school year,” McCarty said. “Please join our Facebook page and visit our website to stay informed. Also, please do not hesitate to contact me or Assistant Principal Maggie Cowne if you have any questions or concerns. We hope that our Cougars had a restful and fun-filled summer. We have missed seeing their smiling faces and can’t wait to meet those who are joining our Colbert family this year. We are looking forward to another wonderful year. The 2019-2020 school year will be the best one yet.”

Comer Elementary

Approximately 392 students are enrolled for the first day of school at Comer. Those who wish to sign their children up for the school’s Afterschool program should do so during open house or by the first day of school.

For the third straight year, Comer will also offer the BEYOND program throughout the year, Principal Amanda Sailors said. This after school enrichment program offers students the opportunity to sign up for academic and enrichment clubs that meet on Tuesday and Thursday during 4-week sessions.

Sailors said there have been some renovations going on at Comer over the summer.

“When Comer Elementary was built in the 1970s, it was built as an ‘open’ school, with few walls separating classrooms,” she said. “Over the years, walls and barriers have been added to create traditional classroom space. This summer, we removed some of the final ‘bulletin board’ type barriers and finished walls were added between classrooms in the older part of the building. This means that students and teachers will no longer be able to hear instruction going on in two classrooms at the same time.”

The school also had some paint touch up, added an additional wheelchair ramp in the back part of the school and some landscaping projects were completed over the summer break.

New faces at Comer this year include teachers Dr. Jen Cole (fourth grade) and Ivie Drake (support teacher).

New staff members include technology specialist Carver Moore, nurse Christa Ramsey and parapros Sheree Scogin and Samantha Chitwood.

Drop-off at Comer begins at 7:05 a.m. and the tardy bell will ring this year at 7:50 a.m., meaning students who arrive after 7:50 a.m. will need to be signed in through the front office.

“Parents who wish to park and bring students in during the first few days are welcome to do so,” Sailors said. “However, after Monday, Aug. 5, everyone who walks a student in will need to sign in through the front office, and no one will be able to walk past the front office after 7:45 a.m.”

The afternoon car rider line begins at 2:50 p.m.

“Everyone who comes through the car rider line is required to have a tag — no exceptions,” Sailors said. “Tags will be given out at open house. If you do not have a tag, you must park and walk into the office to check a student out.”

Sailors said she is “honored and blessed” to begin her second year as Comer Elementary’s principal.

“The faculty and staff at Comer take pride in serving the children and families of our community, and we strive to not only provide a rigorous academic environment, but to create a school environment where students build relationships with teachers and with each other in a caring, connected community of learners,” she said. “At Comer, we are committed to caring for, educating, and supporting our students as they build the skills needed to experience success at school and in life. Please follow us on Facebook and on Remind (information shared at Open House and sent home with students) throughout the year for weekly updates and communication.”

Danielsville Elementary

Danielsville Elementary begins the year with 460 students on its student roster.

Principal Angie Waggoner said while there haven’t been any large renovations over the summer at Danielsville, they have done lots of “sprucing up” to get ready for students next week.

Waggoner said the “Colt family” increased by three this year, with teachers Tori Bowers, Brittany Langston and Carol Montoya coming on board as student support teachers.

The car rider line opens at 7:15 a.m. each morning and closes at 3:10 p.m.

“We have missed our Colt Family terribly and are eager to see them,” Waggoner said. “We are always excited to begin a new school year. Teachers are planning exciting lessons and boys and girls are ready to learn. We have such terrific students, parents, and staff and we will accomplish amazing things this year as we work together. Again this year, we will achieve our mission statement—Determination Equals Success.”

She also reminded parents that students must be at the school by 7:50 a.m. this year or they will be considered tardy.

“Every minute counts toward a bright future,” Waggoner said.

Hull-Sanford Elementary

Approximately 550 students are enrolled for the 2019-2020 school year at HSES, making it the elementary school with the largest enrollment.

Hull-Sanford Elementary School calls its open house a “Meet Your Teacher Ice Cream Social” and new principal Christine Register encourages parents and students to attend.

“Please note that the school day begins at 7:50 a.m. and ends at 2:45 p.m.,” Register said. “Students who eat breakfast at school should arrive before 7:45 a.m.”

Several new faculty and staff members join “Husky Nation” this year and look forward to meeting everyone, Register said.

Sara Bailey and Theresa Bettis join Hull-Sanford as the new assistant principals, while former support teacher Janice Gunnin is the new school counselor. Marty Holcomb is moving from paraprofessional to kindergarten teacher and Shauni Derington, former UGA Redcoat band member, is the school’s new music teacher. New paraprofessionals include Keri Sanders, Ashley Maddox and Brittany Cobb. Dyan Luna is the new cafeteria manager.

Car rider procedures for the morning and afternoon remain the same.

“We ask that parents notify us prior to 2 p.m. of unexpected transportation changes as the end of the school day is very hectic,” Register said. “When students arrive back to school, they will be greeted by sparkling new restroom floors and a ‘Through the Years’ photo wall. Our staff has been coming in early to make their classrooms a bright, engaging, and inviting place for students to learn. Thank you teachers for all you do to help put the children of Madison County first.”

Ila Elementary

Ila will begin the year with a student enrollment of 430.

Over the summer, the carpet was removed in all remaining classrooms and replaced with tile flooring, according to Principal Missy Andrews.

In addition, all classroom and exterior doors were re-keyed as an added layer of protection for students and staff, and additional lighting has been added to the parking lot to ensure the safety of students, parents and staff when they arrive to school in the mornings, as well as when there are school activities and events in the evenings.

Andrews also noted that the parking lot across the street now has a wider exit, which should make it easier for parents and staff as they turn onto Sewell Mill Road.

“A special thanks to our ABM custodial staff and our district maintenance team for getting everything ready for the new school year,” Andrews said.

New faculty and staff this year include technology specialist Lisa Crumley, EIP and Special Education teacher Jordyn Hamby, FTE/secretary Angie Kimsey, bookkeeper Toni Moore, third grade ELA and science teacher Debra Steed and paraprofessional Amber Thomason.

“We want to welcome all of these new Gators to ‘the Swamp,’” Andrews said.

Car riders will follow the same route and procedures as it has in the past.

“For both the morning drop-offs and afternoon pickups, we ask that parents please follow the car rider route to ensure the safety of our children and adults,” Andrews said. Morning car rider drop-off begins at 7:15 a.m. and afternoon car riders will begin at 2:50 as soon as our buses are dismissed from the parking lot, and is expected to end at 3:05 p.m.

“Please make sure your car rider tag is visible during afternoon car rider dismissal,” Andrews said. “Reminder – the first week of school has a higher volume of car rider traffic so please be patient as our new parents are learning the morning and afternoon car rider procedures.”

Breakfast is free for all students again this school year and Andrews said students eating breakfast should arrive no later than 7:40 a.m. to ensure they are in the classroom before the bell rings at 7:50 a.m.

“Now that summer break has come to an end, the faculty and staff at Ila Elementary are anticipating all of the wonderful things this new school year will bring and the wonderful memories that will be made,” Andrews said. “To our returning IES families, we look forward to working alongside you to ensure another fun and successful year for your child. For our families who are new to Ila Elementary, it is our mission to help you and your child feel welcomed, connected, and a part of our IES family, and we look forward to begin this educational journey with you. It is going to be the best year ever for all of our Ila Gators.”

Madison County Middle School

There are about 1,200 students enrolled in the middle school for this year.

Principal Chuck Colquitt resigned over the summer to take a position in Franklin County, so MCMS will have a new principal.

Academic changes this year include: more sixth grade accelerated math classes for students who qualify, a new connections class (health occupations) will be added this year for all grade levels and a CTAE ninth grade high school credit class, Introduction to Health Occupations, will also be added.

Continuing programs include: a district emphasis on improving student achievement, including a rigorous, standards-based curriculum/instruction for GSE (Georgia Standards of Excellence) and GPS (Georgia Performance Standards, Strategic Goal 1), student engagement, (Strategic Goal 1 and 4), continued implementation of data teams for collaborative planning to improve student achievement and meet the diverse needs of learners (Strategic Goal 1),

Continued Implementation of Teacher Keys (TKES) and Leader Keys (LKES) to recruit, support, and retain excellent personnel (Strategic Goal 2), an eighth grade connections class, connections Spanish for eighth graders (this class will not be for high school credit), ninth grade credit classes for eighth graders, five other eighth grade classes for high school credit: ninth grade Coordinate Algebra class for those students who qualify, ninth grade Honors Physical Science for those students who would have taken eighth grade Advanced Content Physical Science, Intro to Basic Agriculture, Intro to Business and Technology, Intro to Digital Technology, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, sixth and seventh accelerated math classes (four sections of sixth grade accelerated math class and a seventh grade accelerated math class for students who qualify. These courses will allow these students an opportunity to take a math class for high school credit when they are in the eighth grade) and the Reach Scholarship for eighth graders.

New faculty and staff include: Laykn Arnett (sixth grade ELA), Sarah Holmes (agriculture), Justin Baker (seventh grade social studies), Nick Ladd (paraprofessional), Corey Beckham (sixth grade ELA), Kelly Major (seventh grade social studies), Brent Bird (PE), Taylor McLeroy (seventh grade ELA), Aubrey Bullock (ISI), Madison McDuffie (sixth grade math), James Cutts (PE), Sarah Alex Robinson (eighth/ninth grade science), Shannon Deavers (1100 house secretary), Emma Turner (sixth grade math) Cody Dyer (paraprofessional), Shane Vickery (half-time band director) and David Yeary (sixth grade social studies).

The school day will begin at the middle school at 7:50 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m. (same as elementary schools).

Assistant Principal Georgie Bullock said she strongly encourages parents/guardians to stress to their child the importance of attending school.

“Upon arrival, students will report to breakfast and/or their advisement class prior to the official start of the day,” she said. Students can enter the building as early as 7:20 a.m.

Car riders should note that this year students can only be dropped off in the front of the school. They can no longer be dropped off on the side of the gym, Bullock said.

“When dropping children off in front of the school, parents may enter from Hwy. 172 or the teacher parking lot entrance/exit of Fortson-Compton Road. When leaving, parents will need to use the teacher parking entrance/exit of Fortson-Compton Road,” she noted. “There will be more detailed information concerning this procedure at the MCMS open house.”

All students and parents are encouraged to attend open house from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 1, where students will have an opportunity to receive their schedules and meet their teachers.

“We are looking forward to a great year at MCMS,” Bullock said.

Madison County High School

The high school begins the year with about 1,450 students on its roster.

Principal George Bullock said there are only a few changes to the general class structure or schedule. These include: increasing advisement time on Wednesday (this is the time teachers work with students concerning grades, credits and other character-building opportunities) and the school decreased the time for Wednesday enrichment to make up the difference; the audio-visual class will be a full class load this year (in the past it has only been offered two periods, but this year there will be six periods) and AP music theory has been added back to the schedule for the 2019-2020 school year.

“The biggest improvement to the physical building and surrounding area is the paving of the ‘gravel parking lot’ and the drive from Madison Street to the stadium parking lot,” Bullock said. “This is a great addition for us.”

Bullock also noted that the board of education has allowed the school to hire an athletic trainer beginning this year. “This person will help our students through preventative and therapeutic situations,” he said.

New faculty and staff at the high school this year include: Cathryn Brooks (math), Elise Coberly (CBI parapro), Anna Cutts (math), Amanda Foster (CBI teacher), Monica Hart (CBI parapro), Monty McClure (SpEd co-teacher), Greg Moore (half-time driver’s ed), Laura Smith (chorus), Wendy Osborne (SpEd parapro), Linda Prados (math), Keondra Sims (SpEd parapro), Scott Wilkins (half-time social studies) and Mark Wilson (social studies).

Those moving to the high school from different positions in the school district include: Eunice Barbaree (administrative secretary), Bryan Bird (to SpEd math co-teacher), Alex Jordan to CBI teacher), Ken Morgan (to ninth grade PE), Clint Orr (audio visual teacher) and Jimmy Whitfield (alternative school).

“I know the end of the summer can be difficult as the freedom of late mornings and late nights begin to drift away,” Bullock said. “Even though this can be a dreaded transition, we have so much to revel in over here at Madison County High School. I look forward to this year and all the exciting things we have to celebrate and the improvements we'll be charging towards. As I visited my sisters and mom this summer for a long weekend I had the opportunity to walk the beach of North Myrtle. We happened to walk the beach late in the afternoon after a storm had passed through. It was on this walk I began to sift through all the shells left in the wake of the storm; one of my favorite beach activities. ‘Jaws’ ruined swimming a long time ago. Not being the first on the beach after the storm, many of the preferred and pristine shells were already collected. After a while, I began to look at those which I crammed in my pockets (wishing I had a bucket) and noticed that many of the ones I selected were broken, beautifully, broken and I am reminded perfection is overrated. Even while I was visiting family, I was in touch with those supporting summer school. I heard many times this summer (that) this was the best one yet and the number of successes has surpassed years before. Perspective has a way of adjusting our viewpoint and I had been focused on the shortcomings, my shortcomings, rather than our achievements. Like the beautifully broken shells, we all come to school to support beautifully broken students, but together I know we can create something greater and beyond our own brokenness. As we move into this year, our focus has not changed. We will resume support for our students by providing a safe environment for them to learn. We will revive them in their pursuits for post-secondary opportunities.”

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