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Starting the school year organized and staying organized throughout the year are two different things, but some simple tools may help parents and teenage students be on top of the workload in addition to what the schools offer.

United Martial Arts Academy owner Russell Wright has run the center since 1990 and has seen many parents and teenagers get stressed throughout the year. Wright created a weekly planner which he gives to his students that has hourly spaces to fill in exactly what they’re doing to stay on top of it all.

“For the last couple of years we haven’t been able to make it through mid-year without everybody looking almost in a zombie state because they’re so overwhelmed with so much going on,” Wright said.

Sometimes families are overcommitted to too many things and need planned time off to de-stress, Wright said.

“You know how you fight the fight in the ring?” Wright said. “One round at a time.”

Parents and teenagers also have to prioritize what comes first to stay focused and to set a goal.

“You’ve got to think to think and people will always put their effort into what is a priority in their life,” Wright said. “Without a goal, you have no purpose and without purpose you’re not really result driven.”

Alexander City Schools superintendent Dr. Keith Lankford also emphasized students to prioritize for the year and seek help when they get disorganized.

“I encourage our teens to seek help from their parents or our counselors when they do feel overwhelmed because that’s my experience,” Lankford said. “When I become overwhelmed is when I get extremely disorganized.”

High school students in both Tallapoosa County and Alexander City schools have mentor teachers they meet with once a week to go over their schedules. Tallapoosa County students have a 6-to-1 ratio with their mentors and Benjamin Russell students have a 15-to-1 ratio.

“You can’t not provide that support because there are so many different activities, so many different courses, so many different opportunities offered by not only instruction or classes in the building but with virtual classes and online classes,” Tallapoosa County Schools superintendent Joe Windle said. “All of these opportunities that students have is a little mind boggling for a seventh-, eighth-, ninth- (or) 10th-grader.”

Students having difficulties in class can get extra support from the mentors, according to Windle.

Parent and student organization in the Tallapoosa County elementary schools include Tiers 1 through 3 instructions to help identify which students are struggling and need support.

Lankford advised parents to contact their children’s elementary school teachers and meet with them to stay organized. Alexander City teachers are required to keep an updated website so parents and students can see when assignments are due this year.

“We want to create our website as more of resource for the ongoing learning at home,” Lankford said.

If parents or students become disorganized regardless of planning, they can always get back on track, according to Wright.

“In short I think that most people have great intentions but they get so many distractions that they get pulled off and they can’t remember how they go back to where they need to be,” Wright said. “When it comes to being organized and staying organized you’re going to get off track; don’t beat yourself up about it — just get back on and go back on.”