By Melonie McLaurin
ROCKINGHAM — As students, parents and educators prepare for the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, Richmond Senior High School welcomed its most enthusiastic Raiders — its teachers — with an orientation session in the media center Wednesday.
Similar meetings took place at several of the district’s school last week in an effort to acclimate new and veteran teachers to a new beginning as anticipation continued to rise for the students’ first day back Aug. 24.
District spokeswoman Ashley-Michelle Thublin posted an important announcement for the community on the district’s website, reminding the people of Richmond County of ways they can help get the school year off to a great start.
“For the seventh year, community members are called to donate school supplies for Richmond County Schools’ Stuff the Bus Campaign and School Tools Drive. The school district is teaming up with the United Way of Richmond County, Walmart of Rockingham, WSOC-TV as well as Dannell Ellerbe and Melvin Ingram, two Richmond Senior High School graduates and current NFL athletes, to ensure its success again this year.
“This year’s “Stuff the Bus” school supplies drive will take place on Friday, Aug. 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Walmart parking lot and 6:30-9 p.m. at RSHS’s Raider Stadium.”
She also announced that a Richmond County school bus will be on-site, ready to be filled with school supplies that will go to local students in need.
There are seven designated drop-off points where people can make donations independently of the scheduled events, and these are Freedom Fitness, the Richmond County Department of Social Services, Richmond County Aging Services, the Richmond County Board of Education, State Employees Credit Union, United Way of Rockingham and the Walmart Supercenter.
All schools’ open-house events will take place from 5-7 p.m. Thursday with the exception of Ashley Chapel Educational Center. That school’s open house will run from 5-7 on Wednesday.
The 2015-16 traditional school calendar and early college high school calendars are online. View them by visiting http://goo.gl/GfWtpI on the Web.
The school uniform policy is an important document to review before each new school year. That document is accessible on the Web here: http://goo.gl/ODjoS6
Superintendent Dr. Cindy Goodman last year launched a battle against truancy in the district’s schools and plans to continue its enforcement.
“Improving student attendance is a real focus for us,” said Goodman. “New research links excessive absences to poor student achievement. We hope parents will partner with us in our efforts to have every student in class every day.”
Studies show that chronic absence is an early warning indicator that a student will drop out of a high school. A recent study from Utah found that a student who was chronically absent in any year between eighth and 12th grade was 7.4 times more likely to drop out than students with better attendance.
While chronic absenteeism is generally considered a high-school problem, research shows that poor attendance is also a concern among the youngest students. One in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students nationwide miss nearly a month of school each year. In some cities, the rate is as high as one in four elementary students.
PLANNING FOR COLLEGE
It is never too early for high school students to start making plans for college. Students and parents should keep their ears to the ground for college nights at Richmond Senior High School and seniors, especially, should begin the process of applying for scholarships or loans if necessary.
ADVICE FROM A BEGINNING TEACHER
Cherice Washington, a new teacher at Richmond Senior High School, offered words of encouragement for all stakeholders.
“As a new teacher, providing a quality education is of the utmost importance,” Washington said. “As the poet William Butler Yeats said, ‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.’ If I can light a single fire or inspire a single student, I will have successfully achieved my goal in my first year as a teacher.”
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.