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Marion teachers prep for first day

BY Carolyn Muyskens - cmuyskens@chronicle-tribune.com

With the first day of school fast approaching, Marion Community Schools gathered teachers, administration and staff together at Marion High School to launch a new school year.

Community members, teachers, principals and administrators readied staff by sharing words of encouragement and rallying cries at Tuesday morning's First Day Celebration.

Steve DeNeff, a pastor at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, reminded the audience that many of the children who will walk into their classrooms Thursday morning are hampered by basic worries like “Who will take care of me?” and “Am I safe?”

DeNeff told teachers they can be the person that shows a child that they're safe and that there's good in the world.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs Bob Schultz used the illustration of Michelangelo carving the statue of David from a discarded block of marble and the artist's famous explanation of his work, that he had seen an angel inside the rock and had carved until he set it free.

“You're going to have a lot of rocks come into your classroom this year. Each one of those rocks has an angel inside,” Schultz said. “Look for the angel in each of your children.”

One parent of MCS students, Indiana Wesleyan professor Tim Steenbergh, told an anecdote about the moment he knew he had made the right choice sending his kids to Marion schools, when he ran into his eldest son's old second grade teacher at the hospital visiting a student and realized that the teacher had been coming every single day after school to individually tutor the student while he was in the hospital.

“She had the heart of a Giant,” said Steenbergh.

Each principal gave a brief message, too, at Tuesday's back-to-school celebration.

Little Giants Preschool Director Kerri Wortinger announced her school's motto for the year, “If you see someone without a smile, share yours.”

At Allen Elementary, the slogan for students will be “the year of you,” Principal Anthony Williams said.

Frances Slocum Elementary's principal, Gwen Lavert, said the school's theme for the year will focus on its students becoming “academic scholars.”

“Together” will be this year's theme at Riverview Elementary, said Principal Olivia Wright. “We're much better together than we are apart.”

With school set to begin for all MCS students on Thursday, Superintendent Brad Lindsay urged the staff to focus on their mission as educators.

“Our students are why we exist,” he said. “There is no mission of education without students. They are our 'why.'”