Students return to class in Tupelo and Lee County

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

It’s time to find those backpacks, sharpen pencils and don the new school outfits.
Classes start today for students in Tupelo, Lee County and many other Northeast Mississippi school districts. For parents of school-aged children, it is time to get back into the annual non-summer routine. For others, it is time to again honor school zones and be mindful of the armada of yellow buses that will be taking to the streets.
“I ask parents to remember that the big yellow school buses will be rolling on the road, and if they can pay a little more attention to them, and be careful and anticipate it taking more time, everyone can get where they need to be as safely as possible,” said Lee County Schools Superintendent Jimmy Weeks.
Weeks doesn’t anticipate parents will see any major changes this school year. The biggest change, he said, is that the district is now requiring three forms of identification to prove residency, instead of two in years past.
“For the most part, I think parents will find things pretty much the way they were last year,” he said.
Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden said the district is ready for a new year after a busy summer.
“We are excited about beginning a new school year,” said Loden, who begins his first year leading the district. “The first day of school is always one filled with eagerness and anticipation as we welcome our students into our schools.
“Our teachers and administrators have worked hard this summer preparing for this day by working on curriculum, organizing professional development opportunities for staff, preparing open houses for parents and students and providing our teachers with the support they need to teach students.”
Bus routes for Tupelo schools are available on the school district’s website, www.tupeloschools.com. There is a link for “Bus Routes” at the top of the page.
Weeks said his district has not yet been able to post its routes online but parents can call the central office or their school to get that information.
One big change that will start today is Tupelo High School’s switch to a block schedule. Students will take four 95-minute classes each day instead of seven 50-minute ones. They will then take four different courses in the second semester rather than taking the same classes from August until May.
“It is a new chapter for the high school with the block schedule, but I think we’re ready,” said THS Principal Jason Harris. “There will be a little adjustment for teachers getting used to their pace during the first semester.”
Students will see much more group interaction, he said.
“We can have a greater focus on in-depth critical thinking because of the time element,” Harris said.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com