By Lewis Levine and Justin Hall
By all indications the first day of school in Liberty County went without a hitch as students returned Tuesday morning.
Several local dignitaries were on hand at Bradwell Institute to welcome them back, including Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown, Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman, Liberty County Schools Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry, Chick-fil-A owner Nick Westbrook, Flemington councilman Larry Logan, student advocate Patrick Underwood and LCSO public information officer Phillip Bohannon just to name a few.
“I was happy to be there. Our kids’ future is my priority,” Bowman said.
Bradwell's cheerleaders also were present to cheer on the students as they entered the doors for the new year. The aforementioned individuals also helped in passing out pencils to the students.
Dr. Perry noticed the amount of energy and passion stemming from the first day back and he appreciated that level of commitment from the community.
“We are excited,” he said. “Our teachers have been planning for this all summer and the main thing we want to do today is get everybody in the right class and on the right bus and get the parents in that line to (pick up their kids) and get the routines down today.”
Perry said academics is always the focus of the LCSS, ensuring children get the education they deserve.
“We want to give them a high-quality education,” he said.
Dr. Perry further elaborated on the measures to ensure that students, faculty and staff will be protected as they walk the halls and teach throughout the year. Dr. Perry said a safety plan is in place, but he wouldn’t go into specifics and accidently give someone, with bad intentions, inside information on their plans.
"Safety is always a concern with all of the stuff that's going on," he said. "We have cameras everywhere. We have all the doors that have the same locks, so it would be very hard for somebody to actually get into the school, but primarily we want to focus on the health and safety of everybody."
Dr. Perry is also adamant about everyone inside the building learning to help one another and treating each other with respect and dignity.
"Personally, I want every child to learn but be happy every day and enjoy school to the point that they want to come back the next day,” he said.
Dr. Perry mentioned the school system continues to monitor COVID-19 numbers. Masks are not mandated, but he said many educators and students are likely to wear masks in school.
“Our schools are being sanitized and cleaned and we are asking people to do what they can do,” he said.
He added anyone testing positive should follow quarantine procedures before returning to school.
Mayor Brown had high praise for Bradwell, which is his alma mater, and for all the new activities that will be taking place, both academically and athletically.
"I think we have an excellent school system here," Mayor Brown said. "I hope for a lot of athletic victories and a lot of academic awards and just a successful year for all the students and teachers."
Oddett Alexis, Bradwell's parent engagement coordinator, also shared her sentiments about the first day back.
"We want to celebrate our students as they return to school," she said. "This is our first full year that we're functional. We were in the pandemic for two years, so I'm looking forward to students and teachers interacting with each other."
First Preparatory Christian Academy students start its first day of school Friday Aug. 5. It will be a dress down day for all students and faculty.
Patty Leon contributed to this report.