BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – On the first day of school in Biloxi, cicadas are the only sound you'll find at Nichols Elementary. The students that would usually fill its halls with chatter and noise are several blocks away, at Gorenflo Elementary.
"The children were sad. They didn't want to leave, but we also knew that we have a new journey. There are things that happen in life that we can't control and it might not be what we want to happen, but we have to make the best of the situation," said Gorenflo Fifth Grade Teacher Ethel Conner, who formerly taught at Nichols.
The Biloxi School District closed Nichols and two other schools to save money. Moving Nichols students and staff to Gorenflo means new challenges and environments, as well as a new school year.
"This is another challenge. It's about your response to the challenge and we intend to respond to in a positive manner. We want to provide a quality instruction to each student every day," said Gorenflo Principal Melissa Nance.
The staff at Gorenflo has worked to ease the transition for new students and staff with a parent- teacher meet and greet, and name tags.
"This school has been like bringing Nichols to Gorenflo and deciding we're just joining all together into a big happy family," said former Nichols student Tamia Newkirk who started the fifth grade.
"Gorenflo is a beautiful school. There are lots of good wonderful people here and they have just welcomed us with opened arms," said Conner.
Students and teachers both say they are ready to move forward and enjoy a fresh start.
"I can tell I'm going to have a lot of fun," said Newkirk.
Nance said, so far, the consolidation has gone smoothly mostly thanks to a positive attitude from students and teachers. Students from the other closed schools also started back Wednesday at Popp's Ferry Elementary, Jeff Davis Elementary and Biloxi Junior High.