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Liberty, Long public schools welcome students back
Community volunteers, including this soldier, greet students returning to school Monday in Liberty County. Long County public schools resumed classes last Friday. - photo by Kayla Gamble

Liberty County public schools welcomed students back Monday for the 2019-2020 school year. Two–hundred and ten community volunteers, including public officials, local business people, Fort Stewart soldiers, local pastors, retired educators, parents and the Chcik-fil-A cow, greeted students on “Day One” with high fives, hugs and pencils.

Dr. Debra Sukaratana, Principal at Frank Long Elementary School, told the Courier that the school’s focus this year will be on math, particularly in fifth grade.

“Our push as well is for our Kindergarten through second grade students to focus on basic academics,” Sukaratana said. This will ensure students are well prepared for third grade. She added that writing skills will also be concentrated on. Sukaratana said students that scored a 4 on the writing portion of Georgia Milestones this last testing period have their framed photos hung in the main hallway.

Lewis Frasier Middle School principal Jermaine A. Williams said LFMS will continue to focus on literacy to include reading comprehension, writing and vocabulary acquisition. 

“We believe that literacy is the foundation for success in school and life,” Williams said. “We encourage students to read a minimum of 30 minutes daily with 10 minutes structured at LFMS in the morning through (DEAR) Drop Everything and Read. Reading impacts math - word problems - and science, social studies, and English/Language Arts.

“Our second focus is to improve attendance,” he continued. “We believe that attendance affects achievement. If students are present in class, we believe the students will be successful in school.”

The Liberty County School System has two high schools, Bradwell Institute and Liberty County High School, three middle schools, seven elementary schools, an alternative high school, a college and career academy and a Pre-K Center.

Long County public schools began the 2019-2020 school year early last Friday morning. Skies were overcast, but teachers at McClelland Elementary School greeted students with wide smiles. Some held up signs that read, “You look amazing today,” and “We’re glad you are here,” in the hallways and on school sidewalks welcoming new and returning students to school.

MES principal Wregina Carryl is a familiar face at the school, which opened for the first time last year. Carryl served as assistant principal at MES during the 2018-2019 school year. She’s been employed by the Long County School System for 20 years, as a classroom teacher and as an instructional coach. She served at Walker Elementary prior to her tenure at MES.

“We have such a great staff here at MES and this is just home for me,” Carryl said.

She explained that the school plans to implement more STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – curricula this year and expand STEM during the next several years. These subjects will be incorporated into students’ daily lessons, hands-on activities and labs, according to the principal. 

“This year our third grade students are beginning to explore STEM. It is our goal to be a STEM certified school within the next 3 to 5 years. So that’s one of our big initiatives for this year,” Carryl said. “Our school theme is ‘well grounded.’ Erosion is a big problem and so our students are going to dig in and help (find ways to prevent) erosion.”

Carryl said MES teachers are highly skilled at keeping students engaged. 

“They are well equipped and we have tons of resources to make sure that they can do that.”

McClelland Elementary serves students in 3rd through 5th grades. Long County Middle School, which is housed at one end of the 215,000-square foot building that houses MES, serves students in 6th through 8th grades. MES and LCMS are on a 75-acre site located between Elim Church Road and Highway 84 in Ludowici.

Students in Pre-K, and Kindergarten through second grade attend Smiley Elementary located on Georgia Highway 57. Long County High School serves students in ninth through 12th grade, and also has a Pre-K classroom within the high school. LCHS is adjacent to Smiley off Georgia Highway 57.

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