MARC VALERO/STAFF From left: Woodlawn Elementary fourth-grade advanced academics teacher Bethani Hanks welcomes Amy Ferguson and Ferguson's children, Riley, Caleb and Brady at the school's open house on Tuesday. Brady will be in Hanks' class.

SEBRING - The Jedi Academy welcomed its little troopers with a message to “Use the Force to Succeed,” along with music from the Star Wars movie.

The Jedi Academy is Woodlawn Elementary School teacher Bethani Hanks’ fourth-grade advanced academics class that welcomed students at the school’s orientation Tuesday evening.

Hanks asked one of her new students, Brady Ferguson, if he was ready for the new school year.

“Maybe,” he replied.

His mother, Amy, said they have completed their back-to-school shopping, which included items for Brady’s siblings, second-grader Riley and preschooler Caleb.

“I braved Walmart today [Tuesday] to finish up our school shopping,” she said.

The store had everything they needed, but they had to really hunt for the type of eraser that the school had on its supply list, Amy said. They asked for the type that goes on top of the pencil not the larger pink ones.

It is Hanks’ fourth year at Woodlawn Elementary and 13th year teaching with the School Board of Highlands County.

She has a roster of 24 students.

Following Hanks’ Star Wars theme, a poster on her classroom wall shows the “Growth Mindset, The Force” with Yoda versus the “Fixed Mindset, The Dark Side” featuring Darth Vader.

The Growth Mindset: embraces challenges, keeps going even when it’s hard ... .

The Fixed Mindset: avoids challenges, gives up easily when it’s hard ... .

Woodlawn Elementary Assistant Principal Jerry Lee Wright said, “This is the best part of pre-week for teachers. We work very hard. Our teachers come together pour lots of hours in to make the walls look colorful and lots of smiling faces and greeting our families that is what it is all about.”

Inside the cafeteria, students and parents received information on bus routes and stops, food service, signed up for after-school daycare and could check with the health clinic.

Also, many kids got a free back-to-school haircut thanks to barber and beauty shop employees who donated their services.

The secondary school open houses are scheduled today:

•Avon Park Middle School, 4-6 p.m.

•Hill-Gustat Middle School, 3:30-6 p.m.

•Sebring Middle School, 3:30-6 p.m.

•Lake Placid Middle School, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

•Avon Park High School, 5-7 p.m.

•Sebring High School, 4-6 p.m.

•Lake Placid High School, 5-7 p.m.

The first day of school is Monday, Aug. 13.


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