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Cheers for a new school year in Liberty County
Most students happy to return, and they received a warm welcome
Bradwell Institute cheerleaders greeting students
Bradwell Institute cheerleaders provided an enthusiastic greeting to students entering the building on the first day of school Tuesday morning. - photo by Tiffany King

Anticipation, excitement and wonder are the feelings that usually come with the start of a new school year. Parents and students are like runners at the starting line, anxiously waiting to start their race, with one goal in mind.

At Bradwell Institute’s Day One Celebration on Tuesday, the first day of the 2015-16 academic year, returning high-schoolers were greeted with pompoms and cheers by the cheerleading team. Other students held signs saying “Welcome Back,” and community volunteers wished them a great school year.

Despite the wet, foggy weather, some volunteers stood outside at the bus ramp and in front of the building, handing out pencils and welcoming students as they entered. Volunteers included the school cheerleading team, students, parents, school-board members Carol Guyett and Carolyn Smith Carter, teachers, administrators, Liberty County NAACP President Graylan Quarterman and Hinesville Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier and his wife.

Not all of the students arrived excited about school. The countenances of some matched the weather. However, that did not deter the smiles of Day One volunteers, especially parent volunteer Shantel Johnson.

“This is the first year that Bradwell has offered it for the parents,” Johnson said. “I’m very enthusiastic, so I felt like the kids needed a little boost. They’re kind of shy at times, so I felt like I needed to come and motivate them. This is my son’s last year, so I’m excited. I’m excited for the kids. If they’re not excited, then I wanted to be the one to motivate them.”

Johnson hopes that this year, students will learn more, become more involved in school and active in sports.

Liberty County families first descended upon the schools Monday evening for open houses to pick up class schedules, meet teachers, find homerooms, classrooms and sign up for extracurricular activities. There was loud, friendly chatter everywhere, as parents asked questions and students greeted friends they missed over the summer.

Joseph Martin Elementary School and Snelson-Golden Middle School were abuzz with activity.

Joseph Martin students were greeted by the school’s new nautical theme. Huge boat sails, anchors, ocean waves, sharks and other aquatic scenes adorned the walls. Various sea and ocean phrases such as “Sailing on a wave of Great Behavior,” “Anchored in Data,” “Welcome Aboard” and “Beginning Our Voyage of Learning” decorated teachers’ bulletin boards and classroom doors. Families visited classrooms, talked to teachers and signed up for lunch and after-school activities. There was music playing in cafeteria, but it was often drowned out by the sound of running kids, excited squeals, reunions with friends, laughter and staff giving out information to parents.

Jeneia Montgomery brought her son 5-year-old son, Cortavious Freeman, a kindergartener, to the open house to meet his teacher.

“Open house went very smoothly,” she said Monday. “They had everything pointed out. I love the atmosphere, and everyone is friendly. He met his teacher, and so (Tuesday), I’m expecting him to have a great day, and he’s enthusiastic.”

Cortavious said he was excited about going back to school and looks forward to learning how to write.

Another kindergartener, Sydney Morgan, 5, said she is excited about school because she loves it. She likes to read, color and draw and hoped to wear her brown dress and red shirt for the first day of school.

Snelson-Golden was just as busy with its visiting parents and students. The families’ first stop was finding their child’s listed homeroom. They then entered the common area, which was filled with tables about various clubs, displayed projects, signing up for iPad insurance, after-school sports, reading and more. Many families lingered in the common area, visiting each table before completing their mission of finding their children’s teachers.

In the classrooms, teachers took the time to let parents know what their students need for specific classes, their expectations, and parents had the opportunity to ask questions.

Theresa Walthour, a remedial-math teacher for grades six through eight, said, “Open house is meant to give the parents and students a first look at who their teachers are, their classes and where they’re going to be at in school, especially for our upcoming sixth-graders. It’s a brand-new school and new way of being. So they need that chance to see before they come in that first day, to get rid of some of those jitters. My expectations for (Tuesday) are really high.”

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