Thousands of Students Return to Classes Tomorrow

Polk District, Lake Wales Charter Schools Open Friday

 

Last updated 8/10/2023 at 2:19pm

Robert Connors

Dr Wayne Rodolfich, superintendent of Lake Wales Charter Schools, spent much of his summer engaged in his "Read 20" campaign encouraging parents to read to their children. His daughter Mila, a student at Babson Park Elementary, was along offering free books to each young person entering or leaving the store.

Thousands of area students will stream back to school tomorrow for an unusual Friday start to the new school year.

Seven schools operated by Lake Wales Charter Schools and several other area schools controlled by the Polk School District will draw in more than 5,000 students to face the new academic year with high hopes. Some students in the northwestern portion of the Lake Wales area will be assigned to a new elementary school in southeast Winter Haven, which has changed some of the elementary school district boundaries. The closing for reconstruction of Elbert Elementary in Winter Haven has added to those changes for Polk District students.

Students at Bok Academy North will enjoy several newly-built facilities, including a culinary arts kitchen and new garden and animal compounds for the agriculture program. Fundraising is underway to complete the adjacent 1919 school building to create 11 new classrooms, completely eliminating portable classrooms there.

At the county's McLaughlin School, a new Sophomore class will be added at the growing high school, which is expanding to serve up to grade 12 in annual steps. The campus has seen significant changes as well over the summer, with a large new parking facility completed, and a $15 million gymnasium project well underway.

Courtesy Polk School District

A new $15 million gymnasium will soon rise on the campus of McLaughlin Middle/High School, providing students at Lake Wales' second high school with some of the facilities needed to allow them to compete both athletically and scholastically. A new football stadium is also planned for the campus on South Fourth Street.

Lake Wales Charter School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Rodolfich has been busy this summer as well, using his free time to promote his active "Read 20" campaign in front of area stores and other public places. The goal is to encourage parents of young children to read to their kids for at least 20 minutes each day.

Reading "has a profound impact on their lives," Rodolfich told LakeWalesNews.net. "Our single greatest challenge is to be sure they are reading at greda level when they graduate."

Along with his deputy Dr. Julio Acevedo, Rodolfich has made 1.018 home visits over the summer, and spent many hours passing out free children's books at public locations. "That's the most I've ever done in a single year," he said, after having advanced the same program at his previous school district in southern Mississippi.

"Some parents who didn't finish school themselves come to have a better attitude about their kids' education," Rodolfich said.

 

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