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Principals report a smooth return
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Area students completed their first full week of school Friday, and principals from around the county report a successful and smooth return.

"It was an outstanding week," said Dawson County High Principal Dr. Jute Wilson. "We had heard how good this ninth grade class was from both middle schools and they are as good as advertised."

The high school welcomed more than 960 students into its halls last week, and Wilson said the students helped to get the school year off to a good start.

"After the beginning of last year, I didn't think a school year could start any better," Wilson said. "But we exceeded last year already. I can't wait to see how the rest of the year turns out."

At Dawson County Middle, Principal Dr. Mark Merges said the students are behaving as if summer break never occurred.

"They haven't missed a beat," Merges said. "It's almost like last year never ended. The students are actively involved right from the start and hopefully that continues all year.

"But so far, everything has been as smooth as you could hope for."

Cindy Kinney, principal at Black's Mill Elementary, said she's been pleasantly surprised at the lack of difficulties the school encountered during the first week.

"There are usually some small situations that have to be dealt with at the start," Kinney said, "But we haven't had a single one. From the very first morning, the bus drop offs and parent pickups and everything else has just been great.

"We're just very blessed here at Black's Mill to have such a great group of kids and parents."

From the largest school in the county, Dawson High, to the smallest, Hightower Academy, students seem to already be in mid-year form.

"Everything has gone extremely well," said Hightower Principal Anthony Guisasola. "We've got a great group of students who are really serious about getting a jump on this school year. We've got a few already started with dual-enrollment at Lanier Tech."

This is the first full school year faculty, staff and students at Hightower will spend in their new facility on Perimeter Road, and Guisasola believes the new facility helps to enforce the new attitude at the school.

"We've been known as a disciplinary school in the past, but now we're really focusing on being a non-traditional school," Guisasola said. "We have students who are splitting time between here, the high school, work and Lanier Tech, and hope that we can continue to mold our education to fit the needs of the students."

Many of Hightower's students enrolled in the school in order to have the opportunity to graduate high school fast and get into the work force, while others may have home lives that make being at school from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. every day a difficult prospect.

"And that's where we come in," Guisasola said.