Students will return to our schools this Monday. Busses will be on the road. Many young people will be walking, and our staff will be waiting for them when they arrive at our doors. It’s an exciting time and we ask that the community conscientiously pay attention to bus stops and students crossing on foot.

This time of year serves as one of the favorites for educators. Students arrive filled with anticipation about the upcoming year and typically exhibit an energetic approach to learning. Teachers are refreshed after a break and eagerly anticipate the upcoming year with exuberance. This will be true one week from now for me and the rest of the excellent teachers and staff at PCCUA when our students return.

Students in the Helena-West Helena School District will return to a lot of changes in a district that is on the rise. Our Pre-K and Kindergarten students will be in the new, state of the art Eliza Miller Building, which has a physical education facility that will be utilized by all students at the J. F. Wahl Elementary campus. Students in the 5th and 6th grade will be returning to J. F. Wahl Elementary after spending a couple of years at the old Miller campus, which will be housing grades 7-9 and the band program for the next two years while the new facilities at Central are built. Students will be transported in the afternoons from Central High School to Eliza Miller for band practice and have to get from Eliza Miller to Central High School for athletics. These changes and inconveniences are part of the growing pains for a district making substantial upgrades to its facilities and programs. We appreciate the patience of everyone involved.

Since becoming president of the board, I have had the opportunity to speak to our staff at our opening day convocation which is always held at J. F. Wahl and which serves as the inspirational kickoff for the school year. While every year is uplifting, I sensed a heightened level of optimism among our ranks this year.

Our teachers and administration spoke with renewed vigor as we reviewed the improvements in student achievement over the past few years. After many years of hard work, our staff can see the fruits of our labor and that propels our determination to work even harder going forward. Success breeds more success, and the Helena-West Helena School District is moving in the right direction.

We have reviewed in previous columns most of the new initiatives being implemented in the school district, and this isn’t the time to review them again. However, we are witnessing something special taking place in education as the Helena-West Helena School District continues to move in a forward direction.

As I close out this week’s column, I want to thank our staff for all of the hard work they have put in that is producing results. We aren’t perfect and we must all continue to work hard and improve every day, but it is important to recognize the achievements made by our staff. We have many talented people in our classrooms, directing our band, coaching our athletic teams, leading our campuses, and managing our district. I say that as the president of the school board and as a parent. Collin and Gabriel, like hundreds of others do each day, have flourished in our schools.

Join us for this journey to the top. Be a part of the success. Be with the best and enroll at Central High School!

Until next time, GO COUGARS!