‘Together we shine’: Helena Elementary School welcomes back students

Published 3:01 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

HELENA – Teachers welcomed back their students with smiles and open arms on Thursday, Aug. 10 at Helena Elementary School.

Much like every other school in the county, Helena began the day with a brief rain shower that began to clear up as students eagerly made their ways to their classrooms.

For all of the students, it is their first day of a brand-new school year and for those entering kindergarten, it is the true start of their educational journey.

For Genet Holcomb, the principal of HES, it will be her third year leading the teachers of HES and Helena’s husky cubs into a new school year. This year will be the first that will see many of the guidelines put into place during the pandemic fully become a thing of the past, a natural evolution from last year, which saw such measures finally begin to roll back.

“Our school’s theme this year is ‘Together We Shine’ and I think we are all embracing the idea that we have overcome difficult things and we are back and strong, better than ever and are no longer feeling that we just need to get through, but we are thriving,” Holcomb said. “So, just that whole mentality has been embraced by our entire faculty and staff and that’s just super exciting to come in on such a high. Knowing, ‘Hey we’ve got this, we can do great things’, and we’re leaning on each other and supporting one another because we’re so much better together.”

This mentality was on full display in the hallways leading up to the start of classes as teachers happily guided students to their new classrooms, both sides beaming with excitement.

“It’s always so exciting to see a new year start,” Holcomb said. “Everyone is energized, eager and excited. It’s just one of those feelings you don’t always get in a regular job. But, we get it every year.”

HES also welcomed a new assistant principal this week when April Maner, who had served the previous year as HES’ administrative assistant, replaced Brooke Dunham following Dunham’s move to be the principal of Inverness Elementary School.

For the teachers, who have spent the past few weeks preparing for this morning, it is the beginning of a year that promises to be closer to the normalcy they remember. A feeling that is reinforced by teachers, students, parents and others in the community that are readying themselves to gather on Friday evening in a time-honored Helena tradition.

“Friday night (Aug. 10), in true Helena tradition, we’ll be doing a back-to-school bash up on the playground at 6 (p.m.) for families to gather and have some entertainment, with music and Mr. Larry doing some balloon art, food trucks and Kona Ice,” Holcomb said. “It’s just a great time for the community to come out and visit and be here on (the) school campus together.”

HES is hoping for a great turnout for the annual tradition, which has become a staple to the community and a true signal used to ring in the new school year.

“This is a community, a close-knit community, a close-knit school,” Holcomb said. “We just look forward to partnering with our new families this year, just to make this the best experience that our kiddos can have.”