For students, staff and administrators at Mona Jain Middle School and Parrish Community High School, Monday signified not only the start of a new school year but also the beginning of new traditions, opportunities and relationships.
Mona Jain Middle School seventh grader Samantha Jessup, who was previously a student at Carlos E. Haile Middle School, said she’s excited about making new friends and being in a building where everything is new.
“There’s probably not gum stuck under the tables yet,” Jessup said. “And it’s all just a beautiful place. You’re going to see a bunch of kids you do know and some other kids that you may not know and you’ll make friends with all them.”
Jessup is one of the about 683 sixth through eighth grade students enrolled at the new middle school coming from Haile, Braden River and R. Dan Nolan middle schools.
More than 75 people attended a dedication ceremony Aug. 8 for Mona Jain Middle School to honor the school’s namesake.
“To have the presence of the namesake here at the dedication is very rewarding,” Principal Angela Lindsey said.
As people entered the school’s cafeteria, Jain’s grandson, Anant Agarwal, sprinkled rose petals on each person as a symbol of good luck and honored guests who donned green and gold stoles.
Lindsey said Jain can be an inspiration to young middle school girls to major in math and science when pursuing a higher education.
As the school year starts, Lindsey said she wants to continue positive communication and building relationships. She said with students and staff coming from different schools, the school is starting its own “Mona Jain culture.”
Seventh grader Megan Conley said she wants to have a tradition of encouraging students.
“For me, a lot of the kids, they just kind of lose track, and they lose focus,” Conley said. “So I think encouragement is a really big thing.”
School Board member James Golden said Jain has spent a lifetime creating environments that foster excellence in education, equity and more, and this school community will do the same.
“Yes, the school building is now complete,” Golden said. “But the building of this school is just beginning. It is just now beginning to feel its traditions. It’s just now beginning to build its history.”
At Parrish Community High School, Principal Craig Little said the school’s 535 ninth and 10th grade students and 60 staff members have one goal: excellence.
The community celebrated the opening of the school Aug. 6 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in which more than 150 people gathered to tour the campus.
Little, who was the principal of Lakewood Ranch High School last semester, said he wanted to take the helm of a new school because he has had friends who have opened new schools and told him, “It’s going to be the toughest job you’re ever going to love.”
“You really get to be bold and create the culture with the students,” Little said.
Little said being an administrator of Parrish Community High School won’t be too different than at Lakewood Ranch High School because “at the end of the day, the kids are kids. Students are your students.”