ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - The school bell rang and buses rolled throughout Jackson County Wednesday morning. Schools in St. Martin, Vancleave and East Central welcomed back thousands of students.
Kindergartners at St. Martin North Elementary spent part of their first day learning how to walk quietly along the hallway. They also sang songs, listened to stories and made new friends. They seemed to be adjusting well to their new environment.
"We didn't have any criers. We did have a parent that cried," said kindergarten teacher Andria Parker.
"I didn't cry at all, even this morning," said Colton Miller.
"There's nothing to be scared of to cry about," said Ava Zeunges.
"Kindergarten's a school, and you do a lot of work," said Colton.
"I like homework," said Shane Toler.
The little ones are already looking ahead to the day when they'll receive their high school diplomas. They are part of the school's "Kindergarten Graduation Initiative." The program started at St. Martin North four years ago. The goal is to help reduce the dropout rate in the Jackson County School District.
"I know that graduation doesn't start when they become a ninth grader. It starts in kindergarten," said principal Dr. Christopher Williams. "We wanted to plant the seed early to make them realize how important it is to graduate and to look forward to that graduating date."
So when parents bring their child to the first day Kindergarten Discovery, they are asked to sign a pledge form. They are promising to do everything they can to make sure their child graduates from high school. And in just a few weeks, all the kindergartners will sign a huge banner that will hang in the school hallway.
"And as they go to first grade, that banner will go with them," said Williams. "Again, our hope is when they become seniors, we can hang that banner on the stage as a reminder of that commitment that started back in kindergarten."
School leaders are also pledging to be by their side, when the class of 2024 walks across that graduation stage.
On Thursday, more South Mississippi students will be heading back to school. Those school districts include:
- Pass Christian
- Harrison County
- Ocean Springs
- Long Beach
- Stone County