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Area students head back to school

LANETT — There were lots of smiling faces Thursday morning at W.O. Lance Elementary School. As students arrived for the first day of classes, a welcoming line was there to greet them.

Principal Jamie Heard, along with city officials, school boosters and a delegation from Mount Hermon Baptist Church, lined both walls near the entrance and greeted the arriving children with handshakes and a few high fives. There was a whole lot of reaching out and touching someone’s hand, and all parties seemed to like it.

The welcoming group included Mayor Kyle McCoy, Council Member Charles Looser, Fire & EMS Chief Johnny Allen, City Inspector Teddy Morris, County Commission Chairman Charlie Williams, and Dr. Lamar Johnson and the Mentoring, Empowering and Nurturing (MEN’s) group from Mount Hermon.

“I’m enjoying this,” said Mayor McCoy. “We did this last year. It’s always fun to come here and welcome the students, faculty and staff to a new school year. It’s so good to see those bright, smiling faces early in the year. The first day of school is always an exciting time for kids, their parents and teachers.”

Mr. Heard has been principal at the elementary school since 1994.

“I really enjoy days like today,” he said. “I could have retired a long time ago. It’s days like today that keep me going. I love being around children and their parents.”

W.O. Lance is continuing with the growth trends it’s been on in recent years.

“Right now we have a total of 608 students,” Heard said. “We ended last year with around 590.”

Nine school buses transport children to the school every morning and take them home in the afternoon. Some of the buses make two trips both in the morning and in the afternoon. Some of the buses have nicknames. The kids like to call one of them the rabbit bus and another one the whale bus.

“People need to keep in mind that school is back in session,” said the mayor. “When they are out driving around, they need to slow down, pay attention and drive carefully. We don’t want to start the school year with a tragedy.”