Forrest Gump's Mama, Adapted
Life Is Like a Box of Crayons.
Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” I beg to differ. There is nothing more symbolic than a box of crayons for the start of a new school year.
I remember when I was a child the thrill of a pack of crayons, usually in the eight or 16 pack size. The super bonanza was the 64-crayon pack. A new pack of crayons symbolizes unlimited potential, unrealized promise, and untapped creativity.
As we prepare to start the 2019 – 2020 school year, we have many faculty and staff working to improve their craft attending summer institutes, teaching summer school, and meeting to set goals and develop plans for student success.
Much as the promise contained in a new box of crayons, L56 offers a slate of new opportunities in the year ahead. The 2019 – 2020 school year will begin with the largest number of new faces to the district in many years. Forty-one new employees will take their places in the classrooms, the kitchens, and the busses.
We are fortunate to have all openings either hired or nearly filled. The exuberance and excitement of new personnel can color a beautiful canvas. Dr. Brothers assumes the principalship at CHS; Corey Fountain assumes the mantle of head football coach; and Louie Alexander takes the reins as athletic director. Add the hues of all the other new employees and the potential of an epic year is a kaleidoscope of possibilities.
Wilder Stadium will have the first major renovation since 1975. The new endzone project will provide much larger and nicer restroom facilities as well as expanded concessions. There will be a ribbon cutting on August 21 at 6:00 PM followed by a game-like scrimmage against Berea at 7:00 PM, weather permitting. Complimenting the Wilder Stadium project, the CHS tennis courts have been resurfaced and await the excitement of two of the best tennis teams in AAA.
Eastside Elementary will have a new electronic sign near the Ring Road. Efforts continue to have it ready and operational in early September.
Programmatically, there are numerous “Crayola” moments ahead:
MS Bailey Child Development Center, consistently ranked as one of the top ten Child Development Programs in the state, will add Waterford Learning. Waterford improves children’s cognitive outcomes, empowers parents as their children’s first teachers, and engages the whole family.
Clinton Elementary will expand their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) offerings for all students by adding a “Project Lead the Way” (PLTW) Launch engineering curriculum as an activity for all students. Once additional funds become available, we hope to expand this pilot program to the other elementary schools.
Joanna-Woodson will have new Acellus STEM 10 robotic labs. Acellus is a coding instruction program where students build and control their own Cellus Bot (a robot). Acellus has as its theme “Empowering Today’s Students to be Tomorrow’s Innovators.” Once additional funds become available, we hope to expand this pilot program to the other elementary schools too.
Clinton Middle and Clinton High will offer a new class—Computer Science Discoveries—as part of the developing Computer Science program at both campuses.
Clinton High School will offer two new Career and Technology Education (CATE) classes this year: Building Construction and Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC). Although computers and engineering are critical, a return to seriously needed career opportunities is necessary for students to meet the burgeoning job opportunities and unfilled vacancies for the “critical shortage” of skilled labor.
The 2019 – 2020 school year is nearly in sight. May we symbolically take our packs of crayons, open the top, and stare intently at the neatly arranged, well sharpened objects of limitless promise. Take your art paper and brainstorm your masterpiece. Carefully select your crayons and color with the reckless abandon of a young child and absorb the beauty of new beginnings.
May it be so!
(Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of Laurens School District 56.)