By Sam Inglot

“Excited” was the word of the day for Lansing School District officials leading up to the start of a new year

Thursday, Aug. 30 — Having been involved in education for 36 years, Lansing School District Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul said she gets excited whenever a new school year starts — but this year tops them all.

“I have to tell you, I’ve never felt more excited about a school year than this year,” she said at a press conference today. “We are all here because we care so much about the kids in the district. We want to make sure they’re successful. We want to make sure this district is successful. It’s the capital of a great state and we represent that capital city so we know there is a lot riding on our shoulders and we are anxious to move this greatness along.”

Caamal Canul spearheaded a district reconfiguration that shifted around building grade assignments, teachers and administrators including Eastern and Sexton high schools to include seventh and eighth graders.

Teachers and staff are just as thrilled to be starting a new year. Tuesday is the first day of classes.

“This is something that could have torn us apart, but it hasn’t,” said Jimmy Atchison of the Lansing Schools Education Association. “It’s drawn us together and there is a ‘new kid at school’ excitement amongst the staff. It’s an exciting new breath of teamwork.”

Myra Ford, president of the Lansing Board of Education, said she couldn’t remember being this “excited” about a new school year since she was a student in Lansing herself.

“Change can be a scary thing for everyone, but I think change can also be a very exciting thing,” she said, emphasizing that school officials are focused on the latter.

Ford urged involvement in the schools from parents, grandparents and members of the community.

“We can’t do it without you,” she said. “Every parent needs to be involved, every grandparent, aunts, uncles, guardians — whoever. Get involved, be there and support your children. If we do that, we can’t fail.”

The district is 100 percent complete with restructuring activities, said Brian Ralph, chief operations officer for the district.

“There were a lot of pundits out there who doubted they could reconfigure the entire district over the summer,” Ralph said. “We proved the pundits wrong.”

(The first day of school is Tuesday. Students will be greeted by a “Welcome Back” team of parents, teachers, staff and community members, along with a 12-minute video featuring Caamal Canul and school officials introducing the changes at each building within the district. You can see the video here.)

“On LSD” is City Pulse’s regular coverage of Lansing School District happenings.