MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — There was all the normal first day of school excitement in the Muskegon Heights school district early Monday morning. And some added excitement that only happens every 100 years.
The Muskegon Heights Tigers have now begun the district's 100th year of education.
The 2021-2022 school year in Muskegon begins with a return to in-person instruction and with a new top administrator, Dr. Arnetta Thompson.
"Just ecstatic to be in this moment right now," said Thompson, who greeted students as they entered the district's three schools.
The new school year starts with a renewed spirit of cooperation between the elected and charter boards governing the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System.
Trinell Scott, district board chair, and Chris Dean, charter board chair, expressed confidence in Thompson's leadership and agreed to put the needs of the Muskegon Heights Tigers students at the fore in every conversation.
"It is a time to reflect on our rich history and plot our course for a successful future," said Dean. "Leadership in the district welcomes the opportunity for a fresh start with our new superintendent, and we signed a statement recommitting ourselves to open, regular communications and a spirit of partnership."
The district enters the school year with a renewed focus on reading. Powered by a $5 million state grant program to train district teachers to become master reading instructors, Thompson said she anticipates the schools will soon see dramatic gains among the students.
"Reading is fundamental to all education," Thompson said. "Our new program helps teachers approach instruction considering the unique needs of students in our community. We've been training teachers all summer, and we're excited to put this program into play this year."
Scott said she looks forward to being engaged with the school operations more directly.
"With the state of Michigan officially relieving the receivership board, the district board is now the authorizer for this charter school," Scott said. "This is a unique school partnership, but we believe it can succeed for our students if the leadership throughout the district commits to working together."
"We're committed to providing a stable, supportive environment for our community's children to thrive daily and achieve a brighter future through education," added Thompson. "We're proud to mark 100 years as the hub and heart of this community, and looking ahead to a bright future of service to students and Muskegon Heights."
Students in Muskegon Heights will be wearing masks while at school except while eating in the cafeteria. Table dividers are in place to keep students three feet apart while eating.
Muskegon Heights students only had two weeks of in-person instruction during the 2020-2021 school year.
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