The Fort Campbell Courier

Fort Campbell heads back to school

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Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013 6:00 pm

Marking the end of summer vacation, the first day of classes Monday brought returning students and new students to one of Fort Campbell’s nine schools.

At Barsanti Elementary School the staff arrived early, thrilled to begin another year with their students. Outside, with their school supplies and smiles, students gathered at the doors greeting each other with big hugs and joyful waves as their friends and classmates arrived.  

Principal Jennifer Halley said that the first day of school means the beginning of a challenging new year with new students and new opportunities to learn and feed students’ hunger for knowledge.

“We’re trying to enhance the learning of the students and the love of learning for the students,” Halley said. “It’s exciting each year. The students come back and you see how much they’ve grown over the summer and hear the things that they like to share about what they’ve done over the summer.”

The students echoed the same sentiment as they navigated the brightly decorated hallways to their classes. Escorted by their mother and PTA President Stacy McNerney, second grader Wolfgang McNerney and fourth graders Sophia and Serilda McNerney were eager to return to school and catch up with old friends while making new ones this year. Sophia described her summer as awesome while her twin sister Serilda said she was looking forward to music classes.

Kindergarten student, Teari Cisse was ready to start her first day of school and begin her learning experience. Joining her were her parents, Net and Sgt. 1st Class Rahamane Cisse, who were both delighted to be with her on this milestone in her education.

While some Fort Campbell students find themselves beginning their educational journey this year, others are looking at their time winding down and are preparing for life after school.

For students beginning their senior year, it is a time of reflection and looking forward to what they want to do after their graduation. At Fort Campbell High School, students shared similar feelings of those expressed by their younger counterparts. They expressed both elation and nervousness about beginning their classes.

“The first day of school means a lot to me,” said Madison Webb, 17, “just because I know it brings me closer to what I want to do in my life.”

Senior Karina Rodriguez, 16, shared what this final year means to her. “I am excited for this year,” she said. “I was nervous because it means a lot.”

Both teens expressed how important this year is for their entry into the world of college and their aspirations to pursue careers that help others.

While students and staff are enthusiastic about the upcoming school year, it is also important for parents to be aware of their role in their child’s education – maintaining their health to foster their growth and development.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a nonprofit organization, offers these back-to-school tips for parents.

While backpacks are a convenient way to carry books and supplies; incorrect use of a backpack can lead to back pain and damage to muscles and joints. Choose a backpack with wide, padded straps that distribute the weight evenly across the body.

Getting enough sleep is important to both physical health and school performance. Be sure that your child is getting adequate sleep to ensure that they are alert and attentive during the school day.

Exposure to germs increases when children return to school. Address how germs are spread with your child and demonstrate proper techniques to avoid their spread; such as proper hand washing and good hygiene.

Ensure that your child is getting the proper nutrition in their lunches. Eating a healthy, well-balanced lunch will maximize your child’s energy during the day and enhance academic performance.

For Fort Campbell parents that want to take an active role in their child’s education, volunteer opportunities are also available at the schools on post.

Parents wishing to volunteer can pick up an application in the front office of their child’s school or go online to and following the “Volunteers Needed” link.

Department of Defense Education Activity employees that work for the full year, including administrators, will now only take six days of furlough, after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made an announcement Tuesday to reduce the number of unpaid leave days for civilian employees.

Elaine Kanellis, DoDEA deputy chief of communications, confirmed the change in an email to the Fort Campbell Courier Tuesday.

Additionally, the 600 nine-month DoDEA employees at Fort Campbell, including teachers, were scheduled to take five furlough days (Aug. 23 and 26, Sept. 6, 13 and 16), Kanellis said. Those furlough days have been canceled.

“The Secretary granted a specific exception for 10-month, school-level DoDEA employees [instructional and support staff] to be implemented immediately. These personnel were subject to a five-day furlough in consideration of meeting school accreditation requirements,” Kanellis said in the email. “This is great news for DoDEA’s mission – educating children.”

Since the furlough is canceled, schools will be in session on those days. Fort Campbell Schools updated its school calendar at to reflect the changes.

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