Contributed by Ken McLemore
HOPE – Classes for the 2019-2020 academic year in the Hope Public Schools got off to a smooth start Tuesday, despite a massive internet failure which forced educators to improvise.
“All buildings reported high attendance for day one,” HPS Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart said. “Clinton Primary School benefitted greatly from the addition of the new parking lot. The Freshman Academy students at Hope High School were thrilled to be there.”
School districts and communities across Southwest Arkansas lost all internet service when an ATT trunk line between Hope and Little Rock was severed, according to Hope Public Schools Technology Coordinator Jeff Madlock.
“Congratulations on handling the first day of school without internet like champs,” Madlock wrote to teachers and staff later. “It is a true testament to the power and professionalism of our educators to start the first day of school without a vital piece of the system.”
The outage severed all telephone and web-based communications with each of the five campuses in the district. Administrators used alternative sources of communications to conduct business, essentially as usual, according to Hart.
“There was a great start to the morning, and we were glad to see everyone here,” he said. “There were lots of bright spots; and, we regret the phone situation, but all-in-all, it was a great day.”
As some 2,286 students attended the first day of classes, there were bright spots. Hope High School teachers greeted students en masse as they arrived on campus, and HHS teacher Terri Hoglund related a parent’s reaction.
“A ninth-grade parent pulled into the bus line this morning to let her child out,” Hoglund said.
“When I told her where to drop off her child, she said, ‘I was pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to drive this way when I saw the students.’ I told her those were not students, they were teachers. She said that is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, and to please let everyone know how impressed she was.”
Yerger Middle School students offered peer advice to start the year well, Principal Josclyn Wiley said.
Beryl Henry Elementary School Principal Dr. Roy Turner explained the attitude on his campus the first day of school.
“All teachers recited a pledge on how they would assist students succeed this year, and all students accepted the teachers’ pledge by reciting a pledge on how they would work with teachers so each student could reach their goals,” Dr. Turner said.
He said a theme for the campus this year is “We believe in TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More).”
Hope Academy of Public Service Principal Dr. Carol Ann Duke was impressed by the loyalty of some of her former students.
“We had several of the Collegiate Academy 10th graders return to help siblings transition to HAPS and assist teachers in a million ways as we begin the school year,” Dr. Duke said. “Their returning is a testament to the impact HAPS staff have had on their lives and their love of our campus.”