Social Circle cheerleaders man the backpack booth at the Back to School Bash on Thursday, July 25, 2019, in downtown Social Circle, Ga.

This week, kids all over Walton County are going back to school for another year of learning.

Both the Walton County School District schools and the Social Circle City Schools are going back to school on Thursday, while private schools across Walton County, such as Loganville Christian Academy and George Walton Academy, are not going back until later in the month.

“Our parents and community really like the idea of doing a weeklong break in October. We do a week in October, a full week during Thanksgiving, two whole weeks at Christmas, several long weekends in February and March and a week long in April. Really it is at the request of our families,” Carrie Booher, assistant superintendent for the Social Circle City Schools, said.

This school year is full of changes for the city schools and public schools across the county. Social Circle has hired several new staff members and a new superintendent, Robbie Hooker. The Walton County District schools have a new assistant principal at Sharon Elementary School, Michael Greaves, and a new assistant principal at Loganville High School, Amanda McMillan.

“We had two assistant principals retire,” Callen Moore, Walton County School District public relations officer, said.

“Principals have the option to fill an AP position with an administrative committee or by self-selecting a candidate. All recommended employees are approved by the Board of Education before officially being hired.”

One change Social Circle has made is a new mission. This school year the system will be focusing on literacy across all ages. They kicked off their mission at their Back to School Convocation, which Malcolm Mitchell, a University of Georgia graduate and retired NFL wide receiver, attended due to his dedication through his foundation of improving literacy.

“One thing that we are finding often in the research is that we have students that are misbehaving and … a lot of times it is to avoid the fact that they don’t read well,” Booher said. “(Mitchell) came in today with a message for the teachers and the student athletes about the importance of noticing when there is a child that doesn’t read well and making sure that you don’t give up on them.”

The Walton County School District also redid its mission statement last year. This new mission is to “ensure that each student acquires the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve personal success and enrich the community.”

“We have five overreaching goals and from there we have a mission, a vision and belief statements,” Moore said.

Where the schools don’t see much change is within the growth in students. Both the city and county schools are seeing stability instead of an increase in numbers. The Walton County district is seeing around 14,000 students total across their 15 schools, while the Social Circle City Schools is seeing a little more than 1,800 students total across its four schools.

One problem many schools face is students fail to show up to class until after Labor Day, which is in early September. In some counties, it is understood you show up on the first day, while others have to push for students to attend.

“Our community expects us to start around the first of August because that is what we have done for a long time … but it is about networking and making sure, like Dr. Hooker said, that we are all in,” Booher said.

Going into the new school year can be difficult for some students, but it is the time for their own personal growth. It all starts with day one.

“(My advice for students) I would say be focused and determined from day one,” Moore said.


University of Georgia student Grace Townsend is a correspondent for The Walton Tribune. She is a 2018 graduate of North Oconee High School.

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