MUSKEGON, MICH. - Today officially marks the end of summer for West Michigan students. This year, a record number of school districts applied for, and received, waivers to start classes before Labor Day. But now, it is 'Back to School' for everyone.
"Just come in with an attitude of learning and be ready to have fun. Learning should be fun," said Justin Jennings, the superintendent of Muskegon Public Schools.
Muskegon Public Schools is home to about 4,600 students. Roughly 1,000 of them attend the high school. And, Jennings says the district is growing.
"In the past couple of weeks we've gained about 200 students alone here at the high school. So, that is a pretty big influx of students," said the superintendent.
"We have a lot of AP offerings here at the High School. I think that is enticing more students who would not normally be in the district.
Jennings took over the helm in January. This will be his first full year as superintendent, and he has had his hands full. Jennings is not only getting his staff, parents and students ready for a new 3rd Grade Reading law. But, he also had to delicately navigate two recent acts of racial hatred both on and near district property.
"We want to use that negative as a talking point to start conversation," said Jennings. "We hope our history teachers and social studies teachers can use that as a point of teaching history. A lot of times students don't connect history to themselves."
"But, this is something that is connected to them. Even myself, I wasn't born in the 60s so I had never seen a noose before. So, this was my first time," he said.
"We talked to them and said ''your generation is the generation that has to change this, because apparently ours didn't get it right and the one before me didn't get it right. Your generation is going to have to have that message of unity."
Jennings said community stakeholders getting involved is also key to the district's success.
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