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Many changes in store for students

From new principals at Brookhaven High School, Wesson AttendanceCenter and West Lincoln Attendance Center to major constructionwork at BHS, a lot of changes are in store for students returningto school today.

When considering this year’s changes, the most telling are atBHS, where many students will attend classes in double-widetrailers and a new principal takes the helm.

The certainty of larger classes in the future, plus an eventual280-300 additional students from the Mississippi School of theArts, forced Brookhaven School District into a major expansion ofBHS.

The school had to be enlarged and enrollment totals served as acatalyst for school officials to push for last year’s $7.5 millionbond issue. Bond issue money will combine with $3.5 million fromthe state for the fine arts students core curriculum instruction tofund the $11 million project.

Dr. Sam Bounds, Brookhaven Schools superintendent, said theconstruction would definitely cause some inconveniences to thisyear’s students and faculty, but the project has received anenthusiastic response.

“It’s going to be an interesting year with half of our staff andstudents operating out of double-wide trailers on the baseballfield,” he said. “It’s a challenge everyone’s going to go through,but the end results will be absolutely worth it.”

The math, science and band buildings will still host someclasses, he said, but nearly 50 percent of the students andteachers will be in the temporary educational buildings.

Roy Balentine, who is in his first year as principal of BHS, isexcited about the expansion.

“The first thing I’m looking forward to is the undertaking ofthe renovation project,” he said after being chosen as the newprincipal in June.

He remained optimistic Tuesday.

“There will be a few minor inconveniences,” he said, “but if wekeep looking ahead, it makes it all worthwhile.”

Balentine, who served as the principal at Pearl High School forseveral years, said the project is proceeding on schedule. Theyhope to begin moving in to the new facilities around the Christmasholidays of 2001.

Meanwhile, he said, the focus of the administration has been inpreparing for this year’s classes.

“We’re excited about getting classes started here and lookingforward to this year,” Balentine said.

A change in principals at Wesson Attendance Center heralded thechange of the entire administration. The principal retired in Juneand former Lincoln County School District Superintendent BillyBritt was promoted from WAC elementary principal to fill thevacancy.

Once he assumed his duties, Britt had to fill the position ofassistant principal and chose Ronald Greer, who will begin hisfirst year as an administrator. Greer had been working withstudents in grades seven through 12 and also coached the highschool football team.

Britt’s promotion left another vacancy which the district filledby transferring Larry Blalock, the principal at Crystal SpringsHigh School, to serve as WAC’s assistant elementary principal.

The new administration is bringing in a new philosophy and thatmeans change, Britt said. The former superintendent said thechanges won’t be drastic and some may not be immediate, but theywill occur.

“No two people probably do two things alike,” he said. “We’renot going to make a lot of wholesale changes, but there will besome changes made that I feel need to be made.”

Britt said the school held its first teacher meeting Tuesday andthe teachers all had very positive, cooperative attitudes. WACstudents start school Aug. 10.

“I’m very pleased with the staff and their attitude on the firstday,” he said. “If it’s any indication of the year, we’ll have agreat year.”

At West Lincoln Attendance Center, Monty Wilson is excited abouthis first year as the principal there.

“We’ve had students galore coming in to register. I told them wewould have a 3A school by the end of the week,” he joked.

Wilson said he is also excited about witnessing one of LincolnCounty’s first day traditions.

“I understand there’s a unique tradition here I’ll get to watchfor the first time and that’s the senior grand entrance,” hesaid.

The amount of school support from the community has been apleasant surprise to him.

“There’s more community support of this school than I’ve everbeen associated with,” Wilson said. “The community takes a greatamount of pride in this school. From what I’ve seen, it’s the heartand soul of this community and I intend to see it stays thatway.”

Wilson said he intends to use that support to really challengethe students.

“I have challenged our teachers to push these studentsacademically beyond where they’ve been pushed before to let themreach the goals they are truly capable of,” he said.