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1:51 AM Sat, Nov. 17th

New school year brings excitement for ‘fresh start’

Challenges ahead in 2018-19 for students, teachers and administrators

The back to school shopping list for a Coyote Springs Elementary School third-grader, will cost parents about $82.74 for all the basics on the list, Friday, July 27, 2018. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

The back to school shopping list for a Coyote Springs Elementary School third-grader, will cost parents about $82.74 for all the basics on the list, Friday, July 27, 2018. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Summer idyll is about to come to a close for students and education faculty and staff across the region — but for many it signals a positive vibe that fuels their passion for a fresh start and new opportunities.

On Thursday, Aug. 2, Prescott Unified School District begins the 2018-19 school year followed by Humboldt-Unified and Chino Valley Unified on Monday, Aug. 6.

For Humboldt-Unified School District Superintendent Dan Streeter, this is a time to celebrate the arrival of 45 new staff members, including new principals, some 5,800 students and new programs designed to offer “great opportunities for kids.”

“I’m looking forward to getting started,” Streeter said.

In Prescott Unified, Lincoln Elementary Principal Karen Hughes was similarly excited about this annual ritual that allows everyone a new beginning, a chance to grow and embrace new challenges and possibilities.

“It’s always such a fun time of year. It feels like a fresh start,” said Hughes who this year will welcome about a dozen new staff to the school’s 50-member faculty. “There are not too many professions, or settings, where you really get to have a fresh start.”

If a teacher had a difficult year prior to the summer break, Hughes said they get to recharge and return to a new class filled with promise of better days ahead. If a student was struggling to work hard and make progress, they, too, get a break “and come back at it.”

“I feel we’re so lucky in that respect — everyone gets a true restart,” Hughes said.

At Prescott High School on Friday, July 27, there were a few staff members working in their classes, as well as some parents and students making the rounds to get acclimated to the coming year.

French teacher Cathleen Cherry was in one of those classrooms, ready and eager to welcome this year’s round of students.

With the backdrop of last school year’s #Red4Ed movement, Cherry is emboldened to continue those efforts this year on behalf of all of her colleagues across the state. The grassroots coalition that was launched through social media scored some victories with increased pay for teachers last spring, but are far from finished striving to propel Arizona’s educational system forward.

In such a demanding profession that some overlook or misunderstand, Cherry is clear she has made this her life work for the last 25 years because of the boys and girls who take a seat in her classes.

“It always feels like a fresh start. What can we do better? ” Cherry proclaimed.

At the Walmart on Glassford Hill Road in Prescott Valley on Thursday evening, July 26, one Humboldt-Unified family was doing their annual shopping for school supplies for their three children.

They estimated they would spend just under $200 to buy backpacks and the various supplies on their children’s class lists.

“This is a ritual,” the mother said as she helped her children check off the list as her husband grimaced as he navigated the cart.

Outside Prescott High School on Friday, following high school football practice, sophomore Malikija Hawkins admitted to some mixed emotions.

On the one hand he’s sorry to see summer come to a close, but on the other he looks forward to renewing friendships and getting ready for the fall athletic season.

Of course, the school year also comes with all new classes and the demands and expectations that follow, he noted.

“It’ll be a lot of work, that’s for sure,” Hawkins concluded.