With new classrooms, new teachers, new friends and new traditions to look forward to, Horizon West Middle School was abuzz with students and teachers excited about their brand-new space.
Classes are now in session in the newest West Orange middle school, and the Horizon West Hornets descended on their nest in droves on the first day of school on Aug. 12. Many students and parents arrived early to pick up schedules and ask some last-minute questions, and Principal Michelle Thomas was there to help.
“For the most part, (the first day) has gone very smoothly,” Thomas said. “I’m very excited. The parents have been great, the community has been great, and I’ve had a lot of help from the district and (the builders) Wharton-Smith. The team here has been great, so I think it’s gone very well.”
Tammy Forrester is the president of the HWMS Parent Teacher Student Organization, and her son, Deuce, is a sixth-grader at the school. She said she’s happy they now have a school that they can call home. Because of school rezonings over the years, her children have gone to multiple elementary schools.
“I think the biggest thing about it being the first day is just the excitement that’s around (having) a brand-new middle school,” Tammy said. “We’ve lived here for over eight years. We’ve been to three elementary schools, (but) never moved ... there will be no more movement (of schools) with the kids.”
Deuce said he was nervous about starting middle school at first, but that mood has since changed after his first day of school.
“It went really well,” Deuce said of his first day of middle school. “There was some parts that are very different — me going to different classes — but besides that, it was really fun. The thing that was different is that there wasn’t teachers following you everywhere — making you stay in line (or) be quiet. You have your own little freedom. It was really fun. I like having freedom.”
In terms of his classes, Deuce said his favorites so far are language arts, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and life science.
“I’m excited for them, because the teachers seem fun and the activities we’re going to be doing seem fun,” he said. “I’m most excited about interacting with my friends and having fun with the classes.”
This isn’t the first time Tammy has served as PTSO president for a new school. She was the Parent Teacher Organization president at Bay Lake Elementary when it opened in 2016.
“Being able to get the PTSO … up and running was a little easier this time, (because) we’ve already done that (at Bay Lake),” Tammy said. “It’s a little different than elementary school, because we’re not the one-man show (like) they are in elementary schools. Everybody is really trying to raise funds for their programs, which is a great opportunity for the kids to get involved.”