Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend elementary student Nicholas Clayton, left, is greeted back to school by media specialist Julie Turner on Thursday.

Horseshoe Bend School faculty and staff opened car doors, took pictures and gave out hugs on the first day of classes for the 2019-20 school year Thursday.

Principal James Aulner said the school had great open house nights for the elementary and high school classes this week.

“We’re excited with the participation we had from the open house,” Aulner said.

The school’s goal this year is to improve Scantron and ACT scores, according to Aulner. The school is adding programs to improve the ACT scores.

“We’re going to do ‘Power Up’ on the high school side kind of like we did with the elementary which is focus remediation from 7:45 to 8:30 and then we’ll go into first period,” Aulner said. “We’re excited about the growth our students showed last year and want to continue that this year.”

The high school held a quick meeting for students Thursday to go over small changes to attendance, the dress code and cell phones.

Aulner said the first day drop off was smooth.

“We’re excited about some of the new coaches we have in place,” Aulner said. “We got a new football coach. We’re excited about the enthusiasm he has pumped into the program and look forward to a great year at the ‘Bend.”

In a second-grade classroom, parent Catie Hand took a first day of classes selfie with her daughter, Bayley Hand, who said she looks forward to having fun this school year.

“We’re really excited bringing on a new year,” Catie Branch said.

In addition to staff greeting children, Horseshoe Bend parent Kevin James walked through classrooms and offered prayers to each class. James is the parent to a freshman and has made it tradition at the school to walk through praying on the first day.

“The world’s a bad, evil place these days and we trust in the good Lord to get through each day and have a better day with it because we believe in him,” James said.

School speech therapist Shana Branch said she’d feel lost without the opening day prayers from James.

“It helps me so much throughout the day and it feels like if he doesn’t do it something’s missing,” Branch said. “I think of us as a family. I think even with him saying prayer it draws us close together with each other too.”

Branch said it felt great to be back for the school year.

“It’s exciting,” Branch said. “I’m looking forward to a new school year and new adventures and (I’m) ready to go.”