Beacon JournalBechtel Community Learning CenterThe first day of school for all students at Akron’s Buchtel Community Learning Center on Friday turned into a celebration before the first bell could ring.“Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!” shouted Assistant Principal Erica Glover while connecting with students for high-fives and low-fives as they entered the front doors of the seventh- through 12th-grade school. Dean of Students Brian Turner chimed in: “Let’s go! Let’s go! Come on scholars. Hit that red carpet!”Buchtel students were welcomed back with a red carpet rolled from the front door to the end of the sidewalk and upbeat music played by two disc jockeys. As they walked the red carpet, they were applauded by administrators, parents and community members.As they entered the building, intervention specialist Kenny Smith also welcomed the students: “Good Morning! It’s going to be a great year! We’re happy you’re here!”Teachers and staff — who lined the hallway and staircase — clapped, cheered and danced to the music while greeting their students with handshakes, high-fives and hugs.“This is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like this before. I came to escort my two daughters in for their first day of a new year at a new school. They were surprised and excited to walk into a school where teachers really care about their students,” said Monica Cook. Her daughters, Armani and Nyairea Jackson, are in 12th and 10th grade, respectively. “This is beautiful. You can see the excitement on the kids’ faces. They are so appreciative and excited to be here.”The schools started what they call a “clap-in” last year to show students that they are needed and wanted. This year’s “clap-in” included some extras, like DJs, the red carpet at the school’s entrance and black carpet inside.“It was definitely bigger, louder and better this year. It feels good to show up on the first day and be welcomed like this,” said Dillon Henderson, a Buchtel senior. “One of the reasons I like being here so much is because the teachers and principals do everything they can to make us feel comfortable. I hope they keep doing this because it means a lot to the students, especially the new kids coming in.”Byron Hopkins, who is starting his first year as principal at the high school, said he is willing to do whatever it takes to help students excel. Buchtel is categorized as a new tech, project-based learning school that partners with local businesses and community members to prepare its students for one of four outcomes: a four-year college or university, a two-year vocational school, the military or the workforce.“Our instructors know that educating our scholars is about building relationships. They understand the importance of knowing each scholar’s story,” Hopkins said. “We are dedicated to meeting our scholars where they are and helping them acquire the tools and skills they will need to be successful in life. Today’s welcome was about celebrating their greatness.”More information about Buchtel CLC can be found at www.akronschools.com.Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or [email protected]

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