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Welcome Back Students: New schools mark beginning of year

Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune | A public tour of Kingston Elementary on Aug. 4 gave parents and students an inside look at the newly opened school.

Summer is officially over and its time to hit the books.

Randy Brown/Press-Tribune
Randy Brown/Press-Tribune

The 2015-2016 school year is underway in Bossier Parish and there’s plenty of excitement in the air with two brand new schools opening their doors for the first time. Debbie Gegg, Principal of Kingston Elementary, said the initial few days will most likely be overwhelming, but in a good way.

“There’s a positive energy here that’s quite amazing. This community is like no other and we are a community school,” she said. “We want to be in the community as much as we want the community to be in our school. We’ve been waiting for this day and it is finally here.”

Kingston Elementary will utilize state-of-the-art technology and features in the building to create a unique learning experience for students.

“We’ve been blessed with technology in our classrooms for students to use and we’re going to hit the ground running with that,” Gegg said. “We can also teach them about the collection of rain water and how to irrigate with that with a science and nature learning center outside. These are all learning experiences that our students will have a hand in this year and we’re so excited about it.”

First grader Anna Wakefield said she really liked her new school. She couldn’t wait to meet new friends and explore her new classroom.

Amy Wakefield, Anna’s mom, said they anxiously waited weeks to finally get a look inside their new school.

“I think it’s beautiful,” she said. “We are so excited that they are going to implement eco-friendly teaching in such a neat learning environment.”

One thing she noted was the security upon entering and the general layout of the school.

“With today’s world, we can’t be careful enough,” she said.

Third grade teacher Alison Friar said she’s looking forward to starting a new adventure at Kingston Elementary. The first couple days, she said, will be used to get to know each other and to learn the classroom rules.

“I want them to feel welcome when they walk into class,” Friar said as she made final preparations to her classroom.

Gegg agreed, adding that she wants parents to know that all children will be welcome and loved when they come to school.

“We’re going to provide the best education we possibly can,” she said. “This has been a big blessing to all of us and we get to share it with everyone.”

Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL) is open to high school juniors and seniors who want to pursue career and technical education courses. After being housed at Louisiana Technical College in Shreveport for nearly two decades, Bossier Parish students won’t have to cross the river to attend classes. Positioned off I-220 and Swan Lake Road, BPSTIL promises to bridge education with the needs of the workforce and serve as a catalyst between the school system and business and industry.

Along with new schools come new course offerings. BPSTIL will offer courses that were not previously offered.

“We are excited about the new school year, especially with the opening of our two newest schools,” D.C. Machen, Jr., Superintendent of Bossier Parish Schools, said. “Kingston Elementary and Bossier Parish School of Technology and Innovative Learning are both products of our community’s continued support and investment in our students. Our administrators and teachers have been actively involved in professional development opportunities throughout the summer, better preparing themselves in enhanced teaching strategies to ensure that we continue to provide exemplary learning environments for our students to achieve academic success. Through this partnership with our students, parents, community and educators, each continuing to provide an unparalleled support and the resources that allow our system to grow, flourish, and achieve success, Bossier Parish Schools will continue to take the lead in our state in developing and producing 21st Century learners and leaders.”

The first week of school will not only be exciting; it will also be extremely hot, prompting Bossier Schools to put a heat action plan in place and ask parents for help keeping their children hydrated. Parents are encouraged to send bottled water in their child’s backpack for the bus ride to and from school to ensure proper hydration as these extreme temperatures persist.
“While it is not feasible for us to have water on-board buses for every child, we will have ice, towels and water for emergency situations,” Sonja Bailes, public relations liaison for Bossier Schools, said. “Drivers have also been provided information on how to recognize signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as have our principals and sports coaches.”
Principals have also been encouraged to seek alternative options for recess and outside extracurricular activities when needed, utilizing our air-conditioned gymnasiums and classrooms.

Bailes added, “By putting these safeguards in place, it is our goal that students avoid the ill-effects of the heat and have a great start to the 2015-16 school year.”

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