With backpacks filled, more than 6,000 students across the Mooresville Graded School District began their first day of classes for the 2019-2020 school year Tuesday.

This year, students head back to school several weeks earlier than usual after the school board voted at a November 2018 meeting to switch to a more non-traditional calendar. Although students begin school earlier, they will also be finished by May 21 and receive an extra week-long break in October.

MGSD Superintendent Stephen Mauney acknowledged that the new calendar has shortened summer break for students and faculty this year, but said he remains optimistic and looks forward to the 2019-2020 school year.

“We are excited to start the 2019-2020 school year on Tuesday and welcome back all our students," Mauney said. “While I know that this has been a short summer and a very busy one for MGSD, we are ready for our students to return. Our district vision is to empower our students with the opportunity to realize their full potential while embracing the inherent worth of the whole child and this vision guides the work that we will do this school year.

"I believe that our district employees have a awesome opportunities each day to influence the lives of our students in positive ways academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. And, with these opportunities comes great responsibility. I am confident that we will work together with our families to ensure success for our kids and our community.”

Faculty members are also excited for the new school year and plan on using the district’s commitment to technology to foster their students learning.

“I look forward to supporting teachers and students through our media program: getting students excited about books and reading, helping them navigate the challenges of research, and more,” said Kristina Thoennes, library media coordinator at Mooresville Intermediate. “I’m especially excited about helping teachers incorporate technology tools that allow students to communicate and create in meaningful, engaging ways such as Scratch (coding site), Twine (interactive fiction), and Minecraft.”

Cheryl Dortch, assistant principal of South Elementary, said she looks forward to watching her students expand their learning and grow as individuals.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the children will grow and expand their learning,” Dortch said.

More than 400 kindergartners will also start class this week. The district includes special support systems for kindergartners to make the transition into school easier.

“We have approximately 423 kindergartners at the three schools,” said Tanae Sump-McLean, chief communications officer. “We do a staggered start today thru Friday with only 4-5 students each day to help them with transition and lots of individualized attention their first day. They all (the whole class) will be here next Monday.”

Despite the optimism heading into the new school year, the first day of school has been difficult for Mooresville High School. Students and faculty members are mourning the loss of Gavin Sharpe, a 15-year-old student-athlete who died Monday after being critically injured from falling out of a pickup truck.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sharpe family,” MHS Athletics tweeted on Aug. 5. “The way Gavin lived his life was an inspiration to anyone who knew him.”

MGSD had counselors on hand on for the first day of class at Mooresville High for students and faculty.

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