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Students, teachers, gear up for school year

JONESBORO — Students, parents and teachers will start the final countdown to the new school year next week with open houses for the kids and a Friday rally for system employees.

For the second year, open house events will be held system-wide rather than school by school, allowing parents with students in more than one school to attend all open houses without scheduling conflicts.

All elementary-school open houses will be Thursday from 1 until 3 p.m., with middle-school open houses from 4 until 6 p.m. and 9th-grade open houses from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. Sophomores, juniors and seniors will have their open houses Aug.16 from 6 until 8 p.m.

The first day of school for students is Aug. 13.

Clayton County Schools spokesman David Waller said open houses typically attract 50 to 80 percent of parents, with even higher participation for students entering middle school or 9th grade.

“We tend to have a really good turnout,” Waller said.

Assistant Superintendent Susan Patrick said open houses are an excellent way to start the school year.

“They give parents an opportunity to volunteer for projects, join support organizations and have a chance to see construction projects completed over the summer,” Patrick said.

Parents can contact their child’s school directly to learn more about scheduled open house activities.

School system employees will start the year Friday morning with talks from Superintendent Edmond Heatley and others at an outdoor “convocation” at Tara Stadium in Jonesboro.

“It’s been a difficult couple of years with budget cuts and all, and he [Heatley] wants to talk to staff as close to face to face and let them know they’re appreciated,” Waller said.

With about 8,000 school system employees, Tara Stadium was the only venue big enough to accommodate everyone, Waller said. The biggest indoor venue in the school system would have been the performing arts center, which holds only about 1,800.

Waller said 1,000 bottles of water will be available for system employees, who will be bused from their schools early in the morning to attend the 9 a.m. rally.