LCPS, BCA hold first day of classes
From left, Chawanda Wynn, Josiah Benoit, 5, Ava James, 4, Josh Benoit Jr., 8, and Josh Benoit enjoy the first day of school at Northwest Elementary School. Well, all but Ava were enjoying the first day -- while Josiah was excited for kindergarten and Josh Jr. was ready for third grade, Ava did not like the idea of leaving her brothers at school while she had to go to preschool. Photo by Bryan Hanks / Neuse News
It’s an annual tour that Lenoir County Public Schools Superintendent Brent Williams looks forward to making every year – the first day of school.
Williams, along with Associate Superintendent Frances Herring and Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II, visited all 17 schools in the system Monday. They started with Kinston High School and by around 10 a.m., were at their sixth school of the day, Northwest Elementary.
“It’s been very positive, very upbeat – a lot of positive energy about the start of the 2018-2019 school year,” Williams said before starting his tour of Northwest. “We’ve been really impressed. Our school leaders and teachers have worked very hard the past couple of weeks with our principals to prepare for the opening and it’s been very successful.”
Williams said there was a simple reason for his annual first day tour of his schools.
“I want our school leaders and staff members to know they have our support as they kick off the school year,” he said. “We’re also able to meet a lot of students and parents, too. This adds another layer of affirmation to the first day kickoff.”
Herring lauded a new behavior program called Dojo that LCPS teachers, administrators and parents are using this year.
“Teachers are walking around with their iPads constantly and they’re acknowledging positive behavior with their children,” Herring said. “It only takes a quick click and then parents can log on and see exactly what is going on in real time. Conversely, if we’re having some behavior that we don’t want, that’s also logged in Dojo to use as a record to measure behavior so we can put corrective action in place and redirect a child if they’re having a hard time.”
At Northwest, Josh Benoit and Chawanda Wynn were dropping off Josh Jr., 8, and Josiah, 5. While Josh Jr. was excited for third grade and Josiah was pumped for kindergarten, their 4-year-old sister Ava was not at all happy about leaving her brothers – and her tears were evidence of that.
“It’s an exciting day and a great day for Josh Jr. and Josiah,” Benoit said with a smile. “(Ava) won’t be able to come until next year and she’s a little bit upset about not seeing her brothers today.”
At the next tour stop at Southwood Elementary School, LCPS crew members were installing new security cameras and electronic key-entry doors. Herring said children’s and LCPS staff member’s safety was paramount.
“We’re so fortunate the county commissioners allotted $570,000 this past year for us to upgrade the security at all of the schools,” she said. “That’s what we’re in the process of doing now, upgrading the cameras and door security with the key swipes for teachers. Security is critical and it’s something that can’t take a back seat.”
Colton Davis, a second-grader at La Grange Elementary, said he was ready for the new school year.
“I really like math and making friends,” he said. “I want to make 100s and make everyone’s day better.”
Dasia Cannon, a La Grange fifth-grader, said she, too, was excited.
“I’m happy to see my teachers and take tests,” Cannon said. “I hope to learn how to write cursive and make the ‘A’ honor roll.”
Bethel Christian Academy also had its first day of classes on Monday. The academy’s principal, Doug Phillips, said the four philosophies – the four “S’s” – his faculty implemented for its 300-plus students will be a huge boon for the students.
“The first one is spiritually, making sure each student has a personal relationship with Jesus,” he said. “The second one is scholarly, talking about increasing scores that are already above the national average, but trying to improve even further. The third 'S' is summit, bringing the parents in Sept. 22-23 and giving them tools which will benefit all of us.
“Finally, safety is an important factor to make sure we have a great environment for all students."
BCA senior Hannah Rhem said she's excited for the opportunities.
“This is my senior year and I know it's going to be busy with college (coming next year)," Rhem said. "I'm just focusing on my walk with the Lord, my classes and cross country.”
Hunter Isenberg is entering his freshman year at Bethel and said he's ready for the new experience.
“It's a big opportunity and it's all about growing up and moving on," Isenberg said.
Neuse News Correspondent Junious Smith III contributed to this report.