The heat index may be over 100 degrees, but summer vacation is officially over with the first day of school on Friday, Aug. 5. All McDuffie County Schools have scheduled open houses from 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 2.
"We're extremely excited for this year to crank up, we're excited for our boys and girls to come back," said Dr. Mark Petersen, superintendent. "We've got some new things that are going to face our boys and girls when they come back, we're moving from good to great."
The list of "new things" includes an earlier first bell for Thomson High School students. This year, classes begin at 8 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. This allows student-athletes to remain in class for instructional time rather than being released early for competitions. Also, after-school tutoring will start earlier and students who work after school can begin and end their shifts earlier, allowing more sleep. All elementary schools and the middle school remain on the same schedule as last year.
The school buildings have all been scrubbed clean and made ready for the new year. Dr. Petersen said "we've really done a lot this summer. Hiring those 65 students helped us out a whole bunch, we got more done than we anticipated. It helped them, they helped us, you can definitely say it'll happen again next year."
Also new this year will be "The Renaissance," a national education-focused program that recognizes and rewards academic achievements of students.
"I've used Renaissance in several school systems before and the results were very clear. ... It's really an attitude. ... It recognizes kids for their accomplishments," Dr. Petersen said. "That's the question we have to ask ourselves, what are we doing that's important in the lives of these boys and girls? That's the focus."