PEARLAND, Texas - Students are returning to classes at several more Houston area schools, including those in Pearland Independent School District.
About 21,500 PISD students were back in school ready to learn Thursday. The district is welcoming some new changes for the 2019-2020 school year.
Welcome back, Pearland ISD
Pearland ISD will welcome not only 21,500 students but also 111 new Pearland ISD teachers. School officials said the students will come back to some changes, including a more relaxed dress code. School leaders said the students' presence was greatly missed.
"We're just really excited to get the students back into the building," said Kai Bouchard, principal at Turner College and Career High School. "The energy that they bring and the energy they provide is something that we've been missing around here for the last two months, so we're excited to get them back."
What else is new
This year, all 23 Pearland ISD schools have secured entryway vestibules. Tightening security at the schools has been Pearland ISD officials' goals for years. The design includes bullet-resistant glass and locks that create a physical barrier to stop any visitor trying to enter without permission. School safety and security professionals said the vestibules are an effective way to help stop an intruder from coming into the school. All guests need to present an ID and be buzzed in.
The entryways started being put into schools last year after the process was expedited due to the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shooting. Pearland ISD spokesperson Kim Hycott said this initiative has been years in the making and was funded by a 2016 bond.
Last year, 19 schools had the secured entryways put in. This year, the remaining four schools had their entryways completed, as well.
New Educational Wings at Turner
According to Hycott, staff members are excited to have students back and the district will be doing its best to help students get educated in a safe and nurturing environment. At Turner College and Career High School, 1,500 students had their first day of school. Pearland ISD has a partnership with Alvin Community College and in 2018, around 90 students graduated high school with an associate degree along with their high school diploma. However, the school offers 15 career paths for students to explore, many of which allow students to enter the workforce right out of high school.
The 2019-2020 school year will be the first time students will see the newly installed culinary wing. The wing has four kitchens, including a bakery. Students will be able to use all the tools inside, including a pizza oven. Officials said students will treat it as a working kitchen and restaurant. The students will be cooking for the Pearland Chamber of Commerce in September.
Students, for the first time, will also see the new welding wing at the school.
"Our students can come in and start learning how to weld in their freshman year and that's just one of the 15 programs we have," Bouschard said. "I think the mission here is to have as many doors open to our students as much as possible. Not all students are capable of going to school or college afterward. There are some situations where students can't do that. And, not all careers need a college diploma."
School officials said they hope that students will have an educational, productive and safe school year.
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