COVINGTON — Though class wasn’t in session, the Newton County School System was still hard at work offering students, teachers and other staff several educational activities and opportunities during the summer break.

Approximately 145 rising sixth- through 10th-grade students participated in NCSS’ Camp Jumpstart at Veterans Memorial Middle, June 10-13. During the camp, a student-peer panel from the Newton College and Career Academy shared stories and expectations for students transitioning from middle to high school. The panel discussed tips for choosing friends, provided study tips and answered any questions campers had. Project AWARE staff members also spoke to ninth- and 10th-graders about Sources of Strength and handling stress. Lastly, motivational speakers Coach Kezia Conyers spoke to all groups about playing sports and winning at life. She encouraged students that having an inner circle should help one to achieve goals and help them to become a better student and person. Overall the camp included hands-on activities in math, art, robotics, dance, public speaking and taking a sense-able approach to learning.

Elementary school teachers and paraprofessionals attended the NCSS Summer Academy on June 17-18 at Newton High. Participants were able to learn more about social and emotional learning from an opening session speaker on both days. Then, participants were able to choose four professional learning sessions each day. Over 70 sessions were offered covering topics such as EL students, technology, emotional learning and customer service.

The NCSS Human Resources department attended the 2019 GASPA Spring Personnel Conference: Reimagining Retention. NCSS HR department was awarded the Gold award of Excellence for “Best in Class” in the area of Retention Practices and Recognition.

In June, the NCSS Nutrition program initiated its annual summer food provision plan for children. The Seamless Summer Program offers safe, nutritious meals to children who may experience a greater chance of hunger or poor nutrition during the summer months. The 2019 program operated from June 3 to July 3. Approximately 650 breakfasts and 1,000 lunches were served per day. Locations included B.C. Crowell Park, Eagle Point Community, Covington Housing Authority, the Nelson Heights Community Center, Community Resource Center and Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Lastly, the NCSS Student Services department attended the Georgia Safe Schools conference hosted by the U.S. Attorney General’s office, Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Georgia Department of Education. School resource officers, state and local law enforcement as well as school safety directors received valuable information on protecting the district’s buildings, students and employees. This year’s conference focused on the correlation between mental health and school violence. This was also the first year that the conference included a Social Emotional Learning strand. Amie Cumming presented “Building Student Relationships- A crash course for School Resource Officers.” This layer reinforced the concept that school safety requires a multifaceted approach and must go beyond simply planning for crisis.

“Ongoing summer programs and activities help keep the students and school staff involved and prepped for the new school year,” said Megan Murray, a teacher at Oak Hill elementary who attended Summer Academy.

To know more about NCSS initiatives and programs, visit www.newtoncountyschools.org/

Covington native and proud Valdosta State alumna, Hunter has previously worked with The Covington News and Valdosta Daily Times. She started working for Rockdale/Newton Citizen in June 2018.