Iola ISD starts off school year with annual senior sunrise

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 1:30 PM CDT
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IOLA, Texas (KBTX) - Around 500 students went back to school at Iola ISD on Wednesday, and for 33 of those students, today marks their last, first day of school at the district.

At around 6:30 a.m., the sun began to rise on a new school year, and the Iola class of 2022 gathered at the football field with their families to mark one final first day together.

The senior sunrise is a first day tradition in the district,

Senior football captain Clayton Stafford describes it as bittersweet.

“I think it brings the class together, a lot of the parents together,” said Stafford. “It’s a bittersweet moment for everybody, and it’s just celebrating the last first day of school. We are done after this. We don’t get another chance at high school.”

Sharing the moment with family and good food is what makes it special for senior Carson Carter.

“We get to see all of our parents, all the support groups, everybody coming out to for each other and just starting out the morning with some good breakfast and good people,” said Carter.

The senior parents are behind the food. The seniors said their favorite things were the biscuits and gravy and Tina Parra’s breakfast tacos.

“We did all of this through the senior parents,” said Parra, a parent of one of the seniors. “[The parents] came together and put this on through their students to get together and reminisce with them. I remember when they were small to Kindergarten all the way up to graduating this year.”

According to Iola’s High School Principal Brian Fowler, the most recent chapter for these seniors wasn’t easy due to the impacts of the pandemic.

“This is that group that has gotten to experience the last three years going through everything,” said Fowler. “They are a tough group. they are the group that keeps preserving.”

That makes this year’s senior sunrise mean more.

“You know the whole over-the-internet wasn’t my favorite thing, but being in person and getting to see one another is really what it is all about,” said Carter.

Leading Iola ISD on the first day is Interim Superintendent, Jeff Dyer. He said he is very excited to have students back in the district.

“We are very excited at Iola,” said Dyer. “We are excited that our kids are coming back. It’s our first day. Our teachers have been preparing their rooms for over a week now to welcome students back. Our cleaning staff is doing an excellent job of cleaning our building. We have sanitizer ready to go for our students.”

Dyer says a big goal for the district is bridging educational gaps. He plans to address these by using new staff.

“We’ve got some new teachers that have come in we’ve got some interventionists that we have with our secondary school to work with our students to close those educational gaps,” said Dyer. “And it’s going to be an exciting time at Iola watching our children flourish.”

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