Students, parents ready for first day of school

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Tomorrow is the first day and many students will be dealing some big changes (KTRK)

Tens of thousands of Houston area students are preparing to head back to school. Today is the first day and many students will be dealing some big changes.

Seven-year-old Leana McGee and her twin brother Travis Junior spent the weekend getting their supplies ready.

"I like math because I'm very good at math and well that's it," Leana said.

Leana is a UIL Academic Champion and will walk with her brother into a new building tomorrow. The Sunnyside family was rezoned to Blackshear Elementary after Dodson closed at the end of last school year.

"I feel excited and most of the part I feel excited is because some of my friends are going too," she said.

But the decision was not as popular with some parents.

"As a parent when you tell your kids to do their best and their school is taken away from them," said Leana's father Travis McGee.

Her father Travis Sr. was one of many who fought to keep the school open in his community.

"We should not have to drive across town to a quality school. All kids deserve a right to a quality education at their own school and in their own neighborhoods," said McGee.

That's not the only changes the New Year will bring.

"Of course we are excited about having the kids back in the building," said Mark White, Director of HISD Office of School Support.

New graduation requirements will usher freshman into the plan your path program that came about through House Bill 5.

"It brings a new level of relevance to the high school diploma. Students can connect with what they plan to do after high school a little more effectively while they are taking their courses," said White.

Freshman will select one of five endorsements in line with their career interests and goals which White believes could keep some potential dropouts encouraged to stay in school.

Thirty-one schools will now have a dual-language program up from 17 last year allowing students to learn a second language early in their school career.

But for Leana, the eve of the first day back, the excitement is just building.

"I like packing up my bag when school starts and I like packing my lunch because I really like school and like to learn and everything," said Leana.

The old Dodson building will be used to temporarily house Energy Institute High School. On Monday, HISD's Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier and HISD Trustees will visit two schools Shearn and Sylvan Rodriguez Elementary Schools.
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