By Greg Ritchie
LATEXO – Latexo Independent School District (LISD) began the new year of school Monday, Aug. 8. Finally the months of planning and preparing saw the kids filling into hallways and classrooms. Although there were some scheduling issues to be worked out, the first day went smoothly as students got their pencils and brains sharpened to face another year of school.
Leah Santa Maria is in her first year as Academic Counselor for LISD. She and her family recently moved from the Dallas area. Amid questions from students and teachers about schedules and procedures, Santa Maria said the first day back was going well.
“It’s good,” Santa Maria said. “Definitely a lot of energy this morning. A lot of us were in the cafeteria this morning with the kids while they picked up fresh copies of their schedules. There’s a great energy in the building this morning.”
William “Mac” Dugat, Latexo High School Principal was happy to have everyone back and pleased with the first day.
“We had a few glitches with scheduling – that’s always to be expected,” Dugat explained. “We got them worked out. The kids are excited to be back and we are too. We have all been working and training which is necessary, but we all ready for the kids to get back.”
In Tessa Easley’s high school art class, today was more about getting oriented and organized rather than beginning any new projects.
“The first day is always a little shaky, and just getting the rules and procedures down,” Easley explained.
At one of the tables in the art class sat tenth-grader Nealie Kendrick. She was happy that she was able to pick and get the classes she wanted.
“It’s going really well so far,” Kendrick said. “I have seen a lot of my friends again and it was good to see them. I am happy with my classes. I think it’s going to be a really good year.”
In “Señora” Monica Hudson’s Spanish II class, the students were enjoying the first day back. They complained about a reporter coming to ask them questions; but to be fair – they did it in pretty good Spanish.
Cameron Parrish, a sophomore, was happy with the first day, but still couldn’t shake off some of the benefits of the summer vacation.
“I really like my classes and I am happy to see my friends,” Parrish said. “But I do miss staying at home and sleeping in.”
Asked if she believed Spanish II was an important class, Parrish replied, “I think being bilingual is good, and can help you get a better job. But I am still not great at it. I still sound like a normal Texas girl trying to speak it.”
While many in Latexo High School near the end of their school career, just down the road at Latexo Elementary children were taking their first steps into the school.
Latexo Elementary School Principal Kathryn Jenkines is a Crockett native who worked in schools in Madisonville before returning to work in Houston County. Jenkines walked the halls and greeted students and teachers as the young ones bounced and skipped their way through their first day back. For teachers and administrators, the first day back is like opening night of a theatrical production. It was finally time to show off all the hard work.
“We have all been working so hard all these weeks to make today successful and it is going great,” Jenkines explained.
In April Langford’s first grade class, the students were tackling math. This is not the first grade many of us remember. As the children use pencils and paper, the math problems are displayed in the front of the class on screens so all can see. Langford encourages the students to check each other’s work and celebrate the correct answers.
Meanwhile in the library, the more mature fifth grade students were in a quiet study period. They huddled at different tables working on different projects. They read from books chosen from the library, while others read online versions on laptops.
Fifth-grader Julia Allee had not yet chosen which book to read when asked if she was glad to be back in school.
“I missed school,” Allee whispered in the school library. “I like school. I will miss sleeping in!”
Allee surprised some of her classmates by declaring math her favorite subject, “I really like math!”
As staff and students settle in to another year of fun and learning, parents must now deal with hectic schedules picking up, dropping off, going to extra-curricular activities, birthdays, holidays and the other million things that must be done between now and the end of school next May.
With school back in session, many parents will miss having the children at home. As it turns out, the staff at Latexo ISD has missed them too.
“I have been looking forward to this day since we got out in May,” Jenkines concluded. “Because this can be a pretty boring place when our kids aren’t with us.”
Greg Ritchie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org