Unit 1 ready for a new school year, will start with a celebration
Ann Gill

Students in the Unit 1 School District are soaking up the last bit of summer fun as they are scheduled to return to school in just eight days.
Unit 1 Superintendent Dr. Kent Bugg is looking forward to the start of a new academic year and it begins with one of his favorite days—the opening day meeting with faculty and staff.
At that time, Bugg outlines the vision for the year and the message has and remains one of continuous improvement.
Bugg said the district has achieved a great deal of success in the past 10 years pointing to school designations, test scores and offerings including advanced placement courses.
“The key for us is to not get complacent. There is still room to continue to improve,” the superintendent said.
District staff will report for its first day on Wednesday, Aug. 14, and students will arrive on Thursday, Aug. 15, for a shortened day.
In the days leading up to the opening, the administration will be filling a last minute faculty opening and capital projects including a window replacement at the intermediate school and some parking lot patching will wrap up.
For the first time in several years there were no major capital projects undertaken by the district, nor will big changes greet students, staff and parents at the start of the year.
Last year the district’s school safety plan resulted in several changes to the way students entered school buildings. The safety plan remains in place and once again the district will be served by two school resource officers.
For the most part it will be status quo as bus routes are unchanged and start and end times remain the same.
The district is welcoming about a dozen new staff members and is expecting a first day enrollment of around 2,100 students.
One difference this school year is a change in the number of instructional days the district must meet to comply with state law. Previously it was 174 days now its 176 days.
The increase will result in some modifications to teacher institute and conference days, according to Bugg.
For now the focus is on getting the school year off to a good start. To celebrate a new academic year the Unit 1 Wellness Committee is hosting its second annual Back-to-School Bash on Sunday, Aug. 11, from 3 to 6 p.m., at Coal City High School.
“We are looking forward to another exciting event as we welcome our students and their families back to school,” Bugg said.
The free event is open to all Unit 1 students and their families. A number of activities are planned including kickball, relay races, dunk tank, bounce houses and bags. There will be music and a meal — hot dog, chips and water — for everyone in attendance.
A host of community partners including the Coal City Police Department, Coal City Public Library District, Parent School Organization, Morris YMCA, and local Boy and Girl Scouts will assist with event activities, as will a number of high school clubs and organizations including National Honor Society, Coalers with Character and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The bash is one of several back-to-school events planned in the upcoming week.
On Monday, Aug. 12, the school district will once again partner with Help for Hope to offer a back-to-school expo that will provide families with free school supplies; access to local service agencies, help organizations and churches; and provide access to an on-site food pantry.
The expo will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. at the high school. Enter through the events entry on the west side of the building. Questions can be directed to Help for Hope at 815-370-7817.
Also on Monday, orientation will take place at the elementary, intermediate, middle and high schools.
Sixth grade students are scheduled to be at the middle school from 8 a.m. to noon and the school's new student/parent introduction will take place from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Incoming freshman are scheduled to report to the high school at 8:30 a.m. with orientation continuing until 10:30 a.m. and later in the day the school will host its new student/freshman and parent meeting at 6 p.m. Fourth grade and new student orientation at the intermediate school will begin at 9 a.m. and new elementary school students are scheduled to report at 10 a.m.
The Early Childhood Center, elementary and intermediate schools will host back-to-school nights on Wednesday, Aug. 14, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., 5 to 6:30 p.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m. respectively. And, Middle School 101 is set for Tuesday, Aug. 20 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.