School is starting - Get involved!

First Byline: 
Jonathan Vickery - Managing Editor

Where did the summer go?
It seems like just yesterday we were congratulating Barnwell County's Class of 2014 on earning their high school diplomas.
Well, ready or not, school bells will be ringing in just a few days for all public school students. Some private schools are already back in session.
While this may not be welcome news to many students, it's time to get back into the post-summer routine of getting up early, studying and doing homework. Hopefully, you've been reading books and engaging your brain over the summer to prevent the "summer slump", as school leaders call it.
Parents, we encourage you to help your students get ready for the new school year by discussing expectations for the year, offering your support and motivation, getting to know your child's teachers and administrators, and making sure your child has the supplies they need. If finances are an issue, there are several groups looking to help. Hundreds of families received supplies last weekend at events in Kline and Williston, but there are opportunities in Blackville and Barnwell this weekend.
Carry that support throughout the school year. Educators repeatedly emphasize the importance of parental involvement in academic achievement, but there are still far too many parents who are not involved. This is the year to change that!
We wish all students - public, private and homeschooled - much success this year. You are our future!
We have heard about many exciting changes taking place this school year at schools across the county.
In an effort to improve safety, Williston District 29 has installed new surveillance cameras in buildings and on school buses. Macedonia Elementary School in Blackville is revamping its Positive Behavioral and Intervention Support (PBIS) program that encourages and recognizes positive behavior. Barnwell Primary School is reinstituting an art program which we believe will open doors for students and improve academics.
Barnwell Academy, Williston-Elko High, Blackville-Hilda Junior High, Blackville-Hilda High and Macedonia Elementary schools also have new leadership. We've interviewed these new administrators and are excited about the ideas and passion they have for educating students. We wish them all the best!
Williston District 29 is currently searching for a new superintendent after Dr. Tom Siler announced he is taking a job next month in Lexington County. While it's not the most convenient time to lose a superintendent, we have faith in the other administrators and leaders in place. We look forward to seeing who the board will hire as its new leader and encourage them to select someone who will continue to carry the district forward.
Schools also have other new faces to welcome students back, from teachers and guidance counselors to office staff bus drivers.
As the 2014-15 school year gets underway, we renew our pledge to keep you updated on the education issues that matter to you and your family. This includes how school boards conduct the public's business and spend your tax dollars, how students perform on standardized tests, the performance of schools on state report cards, what's happening in the classroom, and the accomplishments students earn.
We welcome feedback and story ideas. We also encourage educators to share what's happening at your school so we can share it with our readers on our Education page.
Education news can be sent to Managing Editor Jonathan Vickery at