New school year, new be­gin­nings

Stu­dents, par­ents learn­ing to nav­i­gate at new NHS

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE EVER­SON de­v­er­son@cov­

School is of­fi­cially back in ses­sion for more than 19,000 stu­dents in the New­ton County School Sys­tem, and the 2013-‘14 school year will be­gin not just with a new su­per­in­ten­dent, but with new teach­ers, new ad­min­is­tra­tors and even a new school build­ing for some NCSS stu­dents.

New school build­ing for Rams

Hun­dreds of stu­dents, par­ents, teach­ers and fac­ulty at­tended school open-house ses­sions Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day night in prepa­ra­tion for the first day of school to­day. How­ever, open house at the new New­ton High School was a maze of amaze­ment as stu­dents tried to track down their class­rooms in the new school build­ing.

Lines of ve­hi­cles cir­cled the al­ready-filled school park­ing lots; stu­dents and par­ents

hus­tled to­ward dif­fer­ent door­ways search­ing for the front en­trance; and ev­ery­one scur­ried through the hall­ways look­ing for class­rooms.

NHS sopho­more Blake Watkins, who used maps posted in the school hall­ways to nav­i­gate his way to a weightlift­ing class­room, said the school was “awe­some.” An­other tenth-grader, Mur­phy Monzingo, said , “It’s still a school to me … but I’m glad they de­cided to build a new one.”

Elissa Morain, Kelsie Burke, Kianni Bour­deau, in­com­ing NHS fresh­men who pre­vi­ously at­tended Cle­ments Mid­dle School, made their way through the long regis­tra­tion lines at Wed­nes­day’s open house.

The three best friends said they were ex­cited to see how their first year of high school would go, but they were al­ready fa­mil­iar with the school, as they pre­vi­ously paid a visit.

The new two-story high school build­ing, lo­cated be­tween Jack Nelly and Crow­ell roads, sits on 117.7 acres and can ac­com­mo­date up to 2,500 stu­dents.

It in­cludes a 500-plus-- seat au­di­to­rium; an open com­mons area en­trance; a gym that can ac­com­mo­date 2,500 spec­ta­tors; a prac­tice gym; science labs; band and cho­rus class­rooms; and a num­ber of other class­rooms.

Class­rooms have ViewPath tech­nol­ogy, an in­te­grated au­dio-video sys­tem that in­cludes class­room cam­eras and silent alarms. The sys­tem was pi­loted at the old NHS last year to en­hance school se­cu­rity.

The build­ing en­com­passes more than 380,000 square feet, ac­cord­ing to ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs from Cunningham, Fore­hand, Matthews & Moore Ar­chi­tects in At­lanta. It was con­structed by McKnight Con­struc­tion Co. of Au­gusta for $42.6 mil­lion.

New ad­min­stra­tors

As top ad­min­is­tra­tive po­si­tions were filled at schools this sum­mer, they were also filled at the school sys­tems’ cen­tral of­fice.

Sa­man­tha Fuhrey, who was the deputy su­per­in­ten­dent for cur­ricu­lum and in­struc­tion for NCSS, was ap­proved as the NCSS su­per­in­ten­dent in May. For­mer NHS Prin­ci­pal Craig Lock­hart was named deputy su­per­in­ten­dent of schools, and for­mer NHS as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal Shan­non Buff was ap­proved as the di­rec­tor of sec­ondary cur­ricu­lum, in­struc­tion and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment for NCSS in June.

Fuhrey has spent the last cou­ple of months tran­si­tion­ing into her new role, and she said it’s been “re­ally busy” as she has been pre­par­ing for her first school year as su­per­in­ten­dent. She added that the first day of school is an ex­cit­ing time for ev­ery­one.

“Our bus driv­ers, school nu­tri­tion and cus­to­dial teams, teach­ers, staff, school and dis­trict lead­ers and our cen­tral of­fice team are pre­pared for the school sys­tem to have a fab­u­lous first day,” she said.

“We [be­lieve] we are on the path to be­com­ing the best. Each and ev­ery step we take, be­gin­ning on the first day of school, leads us closer to our goal of be­ing the best.”

New prin­ci­pals at two high schools

As stu­dents at NHS be­gin the school year with a new school, they also have a new leader. Eclan David was cho­sen by the New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion in July to serve as NHS prin­ci­pal.

David, who pre­vi­ously served as prin­ci­pal at Carver Mid­dle School in Grif­fin, said that the first few weeks at NHS have been very hec­tic.

“It’s busy. It’s been very busy, but it’s go­ing great,” he said. “It’s busy for me not only as the new prin­ci­pal, but for ev­ery­one. This is new to ev­ery sin­gle per­son in the build­ing.

“I’ve met quite a few stu­dents, and I’ve been very, very pleased. They re­ally set the tone in the level of ex­pec­ta­tions from the stu­dents. The fac­ulty and staff, they’ve been great.”

David has a B.S. de­gree in el­e­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion from Tuskegee Univer­sity in Tuskegee, Ala., a M.Ed. de­gree in ed­u­ca­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion and lead­er­ship from the Univer­sity of West Ge­or­gia, and is pur­su­ing a Ph.D. in ed­u­ca­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion from the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia and ex­pects to grad­u­ate next spring.

Al­covy High School also has a new leader in place, San­dra Owens, who was ap­proved by the BOE in May. Owens, who pre­vi­ously served as an as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal at New­ton High, said set­tling in at AHS has been “a whirl­wind learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence” that she would not trade for any­thing.

“This is a new chap­ter in my life, and I want it to be just as ex­cit­ing for the stu­dents and fac­ulty,” Owens said. “Their Al­covy ex­pe­ri­ence should be filled with won­der­ful mem­o­ries, but when they de­part, they should be in­de­pen­dent, ca­pa­ble mem­bers of the global com­mu­nity.”

“I have met some won­der­ful staff mem­bers, teach­ers, par­ents, stu­dents, and col­lab­o­rated with sev­eral out­stand­ing and ded­i­cated per­son­nel at the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion. It is dif­fer­ent than I ex­pected, but in a pos­i­tive way,” she said. “I am truly blessed to work in such a great com­mu­nity and or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Owens holds a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in ac­count­ing from the Univer­sity of Cen­tral Arkansas and a mas­ter’s de­gree in hu­man re­sources man­age­ment from Cen­tral Michi­gan Univer­sity. She also has an ed­u­ca­tion spe­cial­ist de­gree in math ed­u­ca­tion from the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia, and an ed­u­ca­tion doc­tor­ate in teacher lead­er­ship from Walden Univer­sity.

In ad­di­tion to two new prin­ci­pals, NCSS di­rec­tor of Hu­man Re­sources Nyree San­ders said sev­eral as­sis­tant prin­ci­pals were ap­pointed this school year.

Dr. Ryan James was named as an as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal at Live Oak El­e­men­tary; Carla Peck at Cle­ments Mid­dle; Troy Davis at In­dian Creek Mid­dle School; Philip David­son at Al­covy High; Nikkita Warfield and Chasha Col­bert at New­ton High; and Al­li­son Chap­man at the New­ton Col­lege and Ca­reer Acad­emy.

Danielle Ever­son/dar­rell Everidge /The Cov­ing­ton News

Top: Stu­dents and par­ents reg­is­ter for the first time at the new New­ton High School Wed­nes­day. Mid­dle: A mother signs up for du­ties with her son’s sec­ond-grade class at Flint Hill El­e­men­tary, Above: McKins­ley Sh­effield checks out a book at Wed­nes­day’s open house for Flint Hill El­e­men­tary School.

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