Some things will be different the when the 2021-’22 Highlands school year begins on Monday, Aug. 23 and some things will be the same.
For the first time in … well, a really, long time, there will be 10 new faces greeting students this year.
New hires have been found to replace three teachers who retired last year; six teachers who resigned and moved elsewhere and one which will be bringing music back to the school.
Melissa McKinnon is the new middle school English teacher; taking over for Michelle Lane who will be teaching high school English; Anita McKim will also be teaching high school English.
Allison Hedman is a new 3rd grade teacher; and April Getz is the new Media Specialist.
Kelsey Sabo is the new middle school social studies teacher; Marlene Fairchild is the new high school Spanish teacher and Joi Chapman is the new music teacher.
Celena Mitchell, is a new Kindergarten teacher assistant and will be working with Kindergarten teacher Bonnylin Covey.
Justin Bohner will replace long-time Industrial Arts teacher Dave Cashion and Martilynn Walker is a new cafeteria worker.
Principal Brian Jetter said there is still an opening for a custodian.
As of Monday, Aug. 16, there are 378 students enrolled for the new school year, but that number is likely to change the first week of school.
There are two kindergartens – Bonnylin Covey and TA Mitchell will have 16 students; and Margie Potts and TA Francie Jetter will have 17.
There are two first grades – Chandler Luke with TA Cindy Reed who will have 14 and Stephanie Mason with TA Stephanie McConnell will have 14.
There are two second grades – Robyn Hessling who has 15 and PamelaTaylor who has 15.
There are two third grades – Allison Hedman who has 13 and Laura Huneycutt who has 13.
There are also two fourth grades – Sherrie King who has 16 and Maci Bears who has 16.
Angela Swain teaches fifth grade and will have 17 students; Joy Archer teaches sixth grade and will have 20 students.
Seventh grade has 27 students, and eighth grade has 40 students – they will both be taught by Kelsey Sabo, Stephanie Smathers, Melissa McKinnon, and Sarah Hibbits.
There are 32 in the ninth grade; 19 in tenth grade; 38 in eleventh grade and 37 in the twelfth grade.
At Monday night’s school board meeting, due to the rolling 14-day COVID positivity rate of 37.98% in Macon County, masks will be required of all students, teachers and staff at Highlands School until further notice.
“Anyone entering a school building must wear a mask that covers the nose and extends below the chin. The mask must be worn the entire time they are in the building. Students and adults will be able to remove the mask while eating and drinking as long as they are socially distanced six feet. This includes all adults and all students K-12. Masks are required at all times for anyone riding a school bus. Face shields do not meet the requirements of wearing a mask,” said Highlands School Principal Brian Jetter.
Principal Jetter also said unlike last year, Fridays will be in-person days for all grades. However, he will continue the policy of monitoring temperatures at the doors coming into the building, will continue to restrict entry into the building, will continue the use of hand-sanitizer and the practice of washing hands in the classroom/bathroom.
In addition, the classrooms will be fogged twice a week in the afternoons after students and teacher leave the premises.
Like last year, breakfast and lunches will be eaten in classrooms not in a crowded cafeteria.
Principal Jetter welcomes everyone – new and old – to Highlands School.
“Highlands School honors its rich traditions and continually seeks ways to develop the individual talents of every student. Through the creation of a safe and orderly learning environment, our teachers are able to foster intellectual curiosity and personal growth in each of our students, and we are devoted to giving our students the opportunities by which they will gain the skills necessary to become significant contributors to our society.
“We encourage all parents to become active and supportive members of the Highlands School community by joining our PTO and by coming into our school frequently.
“Together we can make our students’ years at Highlands School productive, fun, and memorable,” he said.
Pictured at the top of the article from left are new teachers at Highlands School Anita McKim (HS English), Celena Mitchell (TA-Kindergarten), April Getz (Media Specialist), Marlene Fairchild (HS Spanish), Martilynn Walker (cafeteria), Joi Chapman (Music). Not pictured are: Kelsey Sabo (MS Social Studies), Melissa McKinnon (MS English), Justin Bohner (Industiral Arts), Allison Hedman (3rd grade).
By Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper