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Back in the classroom: Plenty of change in store for Havasu schools this year

August 6, 2018

For students throughout Lake Havasu Unified School District, the end of summer break has come way too soon. No more sleeping in or too much time playing video games. Today is the start of a new school year.

While the lazy days of summer are over for the students, the first day of school is an exciting time for staff.

“The start of a new school year is always exciting to me because it is another opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to try new ideas that will inspire my students and get them excited about learning new things,” said Julie Johnson, Havasupai Elementary School sixth grade science teacher.

“Every year I start the new year with the mindset that it is going to be the best year ever,” Johnson added. “This year, in particular, we are very excited to have physical education, music, and art instruction back at the elementary level. We have an amazing team of teachers that are ready to go.”

For the district administration, the first day of school is also something to look forward too, especially for 2018-19, and “all” of the “positive” changes it will bring.

Going into the start of her third year as district Superintendent, Diana Asseier said excitement is building with bond projects underway such as addressing school site flooring needs or projects nearing completion like the renovations at Lee Barnes Stadium.

“Everything is moving along,” Asseier said.

Also, new this year is an additional bus route for high school students, staff raises, a revised early release schedule, and a dress code that bans students from wearing wear-torn, tattered, frayed or pants and shorts with holes in them.

“I think everyone has the message with the changes to the dress code,” Asseier said. “Like anything that’s new, there will be students who test it.”

There is one change students are looking forward to this year. It’s the district’s association with the Colorado-based Rachel’s Challenge.

Formed in 1999, following the school shooting at Columbine High School and named in honor of the first victim of the tragedy – Rachel Scott – the nonprofit organization has statistical evidence that its program has made a difference in the prevention of school violence, bullying and suicide.

The program includes district-wide school assemblies, teacher training, a crafted curriculum for high school juniors to pass along to others and community events.

“As far as changes waiting for students, I think the biggest thing will be the focus on Rachel’s Challenge and the idea of creating a different culture in our community,” Asseier said. “Everyone is very excited about this.”

By teaching children to use kind words and actions, accepting and including others, choosing to be positive, and passing on the knowledge of the program to younger students, more than 100 suicides have been prevented and seven known school shootings have been averted since the program started, according to Rachel’s Challenge.

On Aug. 27, schools throughout Havasu including Calvary Christian Academy and Telesis Preparatory Academy will host a Rachel’s Challenge assembly. Later that evening, beginning at 4:30 p.m.. residents are invited to a complimentary dinner and a Rachel’s Challenge live event at the Aquatic Center, 100 Park Ave.

The event is not appropriate for children under 12; however, parents attending the live event can bring their children, ages 5 to 12, to the Aquatic Center for a free swim during the Rachel’s Challenge presentation.

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