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School starts back Thursday
School starts Thursday pic 1
Dawson Family Connection Coordinator Nancy Stites accepts donations from Kyla Gomez, 12, and Keira Gomez, 5 at the annual Stuff the Bus event Saturday. - photo by Allie Dean

Dawson County Schools are ready to spring back into action this week with the first day of school on Thursday.

“We are very excited about the beginning of the 2017-18 school year,” said Superintendent Damon Gibbs. “With enrollment numbers on the rise, our staff has worked throughout the summer preparing to meet the needs of our growing student body better than ever before.”

Gibbs said notable highlights of the year will include rolling out Phase 2 of the 1:1 initiative putting iPads in the hands of every child in grades kindergarten through 5th, following last year's rollout to middle grades.

“We are also implementing Phase 2 of our 6-12 realignment finalizing our alignment with grades 6-7 in Dawson County Middle School, 8-9 in Dawson County Junior High and 10-12 in Dawson County High School,” Gibbs said. “We will significantly expand the opportunities available for eighth grade students to participate in challenging high school courses giving them a jump start on meeting graduation requirements and opening up opportunities to participate in 21st century elective classes or Move on When Ready (MOWR) classes at the college level.”

During this year, high school students will also be involved in MOWR classes at both the University of North Georgia and Lanier Technical College, Gibbs said.

“The changes the community will see this year are a result of the commitment that has been made by our board of education to expand opportunities for all Dawson County students,” Gibb said. “We are ready for a great school year.”

Teachers and administrators have been preparing their classrooms for a new set of bright-eyed students during pre-planning which began July 31.

Students and parents attended open house Tuesday to meet their teachers and see where they will be spending the rest of the school year, which will end May 25.

School hours for all elementary schools are 7:50 a.m. to 2:45 a.m., hours for the middle school are 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. and hours for junior high and high school are 7:40 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

School starts Thursday pic 2
Dawson Family Connection partnered with the local Kroger and parked a bus in the parking lot July 29 to collect school supplies for kids in need. - photo by Allie Dean

There was no better way to kick off the school year than with an event hosted by Dawson Family Connection this past weekend that helped prepare students by collecting school supplies for distribution.

The annual "Stuff the Bus" event was held Saturday and benefits students in Dawson County by collecting school supplies to give out to students in need.

Stuff the Bus ran from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Dawsonville Kroger parking lot and inside the store in designated bins.

Nancy Stites, coordinator of Family Connection, said the event was the biggest she had seen in many years.

Family Connection administrator Rebecca Bliss agreed.

“The turnout has been much larger than in previous years,” she said. “Maybe double.”

Distribution is already taking place as school social workers scheduled families to pick up the supplies. Children are able to choose a backpack filled with supplies.

Stites said that the school system had given out 200 bookbags as of noon Tuesday. 

Stites said that donations were very generous this year, with multiple groups donating supplies and book bags they had collected. Cash donations were also accepted, and the organization collected $60, which Stites said they would use to purchase items that aren’t as commonly donated, like flash drives and scientific calculators.

“We also want to thank Kroger for being so welcoming and supportive and letting us make announcements in the store,” Stites said.

Dawson County Family Connection accepts donations year-round at their office in the K.H. Long Government building at 189 Hwy. 53, Suite 105.

The following items are ideal for collection: Backpacks, regular and colored pencils, T130 calculators, solid color pencil boxes, three ring binders, washable markers, three prong pocket folders, hand sanitizer, flash drives, tissues, dry erase markers, scissors (blunt and regular tip), cap erasers, glue and/or glue sticks, index cards and composition notebooks.