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Laurel Schools - Academics, Arts and Athletics

There is something special about the start of a new school year. Excitement fills the air as students get ready for new classes, new teachers, new friends and new opportunities. I love the word opportunity. If I had to simplify the role of education, I would say that providing students with an opportunity to reach their fullest potential is our most important task. Opportunity leads to hope and when students feel hopeful, their confidence soars and their dreams become unlimited. This is the business of the Laurel Schools. We are in the opportunity business and we are so excited to open the doors for this school year.

Academics - Our business model centers around providing opportunities in the areas of Academics, Arts and Athletics. It is not an accident that I listed academics first. We want to provide every child with a first-class education. Our goal is simple – compete academically with the same enthusiasm as we do when we compete on the stage or on the field. This begins with quality classroom instruction and course offerings that challenge young people. We are very excited about our new Pre-Advanced Placement program being offered at Laurel Middle School. Academically talented middle school students will be pushed to read, write, calculate and reflect using the College Board's "Springboard" curriculum. We are also increasing our Advanced Placement offerings for high school students while working diligently to provide extra support in the area of ACT preparation. Laurel High School also continues to develop one of the top JROTC programs in the country with 173 cadets currently enrolled in this dynamic leadership program.

Arts - Speaking of opportunities, we are proud to announce that the Laurel Schools will start an elementary Speech and Debate League for fourth and fifth graders throughout the district. Teams from Mason, Maddox, Nora Davis and Oak Park will compete against one another in categories such as extemporaneous speaking, dramatic interpretation and expository speaking. The champion of our league will earn the opportunity to compete in Atlanta, Ga., to showcase their talents. Nora Davis Magnet School will be taking the performing arts to a whole other level. Students at Nora Davis will perform two Broadway-style musicals each year and will be given the opportunity to stay after-school for music and speech, as well as, Jazz, Ballet and Modern Dance lessons. Nora Davis students will also be given an opportunity to take violin and the show choir will become a competitive group that travels to competitions across the region. At the high school level, I can't say enough about our band and choir programs that were rated all-superior last year. They are such wonderful ambassadors for our community. Our mission is to develop future leaders and there is no question that children who perform on the stage and speak in front of audiences have a huge advantage over those who never get these opportunities.

Athletics - If you are going to prepare young people to compete in the 21st century workforce, you better make sure they understand the importance of teamwork, perseverance, hard work and integrity. There is no better training ground for these important lessons than the arena of athletic competition. The Laurel Schools are poised for another banner year in athletics. The 5-A defending state champions in football are preparing for another title run with a challenging schedule that includes playing Hattiesburg, Oak Grove and Petal in the first few weeks of the season. The basketball, soccer and track programs are coming off district-championship seasons and I see exciting things in store for our baseball and softball teams. Some people say schools put too much emphasis on sports. I say you can't put enough emphasis on building character, work ethic and leadership.

So, are you ready for another school year? The Laurel Schools are ready and we can't wait to see our kids come through the doors of opportunity. 

Dr. Chuck Benigno

Superintendent, Laurel Schools

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