As summertime comes to an end, the Walton County School District is preparing for their students’ August 18 return. Faculty and staff are hard at work behind the scenes and will start in-class preparations next week.

South Walton High School Principal Alexis Tibbetts said she is excited about the upcoming school year.

“We have a lot going on at South Walton,” Tibbetts said. “It’s all about college readiness — that is key. We want to give our students the skills to be successful in post-secondary education, and we’re making some changes to ensure that.”

A big change for South Walton High is the new start time, 7:35 a.m., which is 15-minutes earlier than last year. This will help the bus schedules run on-time throughout the school year, as many of the schools share buses. South Walton is also getting rid of the SCAT, School and College Ability Test, and will implement a new assessment that requires more critical thinking. They also added a new computer lab this summer and will place more emphasis on hands-on technology.

“South Walton is also added about 10 new teachers this year,” Tibbetts said. “So we’re working on getting things ready for them and have a lot of training for our teachers next week. We’re really looking forward to the school year starting and welcoming our students back.”

Butler Elementary also has “exciting things happening,” as enrollment has been at a steady increase all summer. Assistant Principal Meredith Spence said the school is focused on integrating more technology into every classroom.

“We have just purchased mini iPads for our students to use,” Spence said. “We are so proud to provide this great learning tool. These kids are growing up using technology, so this is really speaking the language they use everyday. And having that at their fingertips, at school nonetheless, opens a world of knowledge.”

As Butler prepares for the new school year, Tibbetts said their overall goal is student success.

“We want our kids to enjoy coming to school,” she said. “We want them to be engaged in learning and be successful.”