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Mount Vernon City School District kicks off 2023-24 school year

Mount Vernon City School District kicks off 2023-24 school year

Students streamed into the school hallways, smiled, laughed and hugged their friends as they kicked off the 2023-24 school year. The first day of school in the Mount Vernon City School District was Thursday, September 7, 2023.  

Many students weren’t just excited to be back to school, but they were excited about getting back to learning. 

Two students outside of school.

“I’m glad to be back to school so I can see my friends, learn about new things and do more than what I did last year,” said Noel Ferrell, eighth-grade student at Benjamin Turner Academy. “My favorite part about school is learning new things. I want to learn more about math, geography, more history - I do love history.” 

“This year I really want to meet new people and keep up my grades,” said Miracle Walker, sixth grader at Mount Vernon Leadership Academy.  

Teachers were ready to get back into the classroom as well and excited to be making a difference in scholars' lives. 

“I’m most looking forward to the diversity aspect,” said Juliana Cervini, a special education teacher in her first year with the district. “I’m a special education teacher, so I’m excited to be addressing their needs and helping them with their education and improving academically and socially. Serving a lot of different students, addressing all of their different needs and learning styles and being able to help them in any way I can.” 

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Two students.

Schools throughout the district shared the plan to get back to basics and make learning fun with their students. 

“I am the proud principal of Mount Vernon Honor Academy,” said Principal Danielle Davis-Marrow. “I am thrilled to welcome back students. We are so excited to get back to the basics and make learning fun.” 

Even students were ready to have fun with their teachers and fellow classmates.  
“I’m most excited to see the teacher and share how I had fun this summer,” said Scarlet Garcia, fourth grader at Mount Vernon Leadership Academy. “My favorite subject is art because I like to paint and draw.”  

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Trustees, administrators and Acting Superintendent Dr. K. Veronica Smith were also out in school buildings welcoming back the students.  

Student smiling.

“It’s always about the kids and giving them a brand-new start for the school year,” said Dr. Satish Jagnandan, Director of STEAM. “My favorite part about the first day is just seeing the excitement in the parents and teachers. Sometimes we just don’t appreciate how much we need our teachers. Just to see the excitement in our teacher’s faces…It’s like Christmas.” 
While pre-K-8 schools went to their first classes, high schools held their orientations.  

Trustee Wanda White visited Rebecca Turner Academy and gave the students words of inspiration. 

 “I’m excited that children want to learn,” said Trustee White. “We have to meet children at their basic point, and we’re going back to basics and we’re going to really capture all the learning that children can put in their heads. I want kids to learn, and all kids can learn. They learn at a different pace, and we have to meet them where they are.” 

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Troy Newbey, the newly appointed principal at Rebecca Turner Academy, greeted his new students in the auditorium and motivated them to put in the work and walk across the stage at graduation. 
“I’m excited about receiving the students who have been struggling  and motivating  them to achieve greatness,” said Mr. Newbey. “My motto is ‘resilient students who are tenacious and fearless are going to fulfill their full potential.” 

Students making silly faces and at the table.

Benjamin Turner Academy students and parents were greeted by teachers, principals and assistant principals in the cafeteria to start the day.  

 “This is an opportunity to meet new students, for them to shine and for me to learn from them as much as they’re going to learn from me,” said Tanganyika Lindner-Brown, Assistant Principal at Benjamin Turner Academy. “Starting a new school year provides opportunities just to connect with teachers to find out their talents and how they infuse that in their class.” 

Pennington teachers were ready for their first classes of the year, which marked the beginning of the 10-month process of getting to know their students and helping them thrive.  

“I’m excited to get to know the children,” said Marlene Mazzella, second-grade teacher at Pennington School. “Every year it’s a fresh start. The district has some new curriculum, and I’m excited to implement it and to see how well it works with the students.” 

Students walking into school.

“I’m most excited about meeting my teachers and learning new things,” said Isabella Thompson, fifth-grade student at Pennington School. “I want to do some new sports here, and I want to read new books in the library.” 

Parent liaisons visited their schools and met families in the district. 

“Parent liaisons are here to help, and it was so nice to meet all the families today,” said Veronica Graham. “We are already off to a great school year.”  

As schools across the district began the new year, the energy and excitement in the air was consistent throughout all schools.

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Dr. Smith with two trustees and a student outside Mount Vernon Leadership Academy.
Students sitting at table together.
Students sitting at table together.
Students outside the school under the balloon arch.


3 students with new sneakers and Jude

Four deserving students left school with new pairs of sneakers thanks to a donation from Jude Sainjour, cofounder of Buttafly, a clothing shop in Mount Vernon. Mr. Sainjour traveled to Grimes School to personally give the students their new shoes on Friday, September 22, 2023.

Dad and daughter

Fathers gathered around the entrance of their child's school and children beamed with happiness as their dads got a chance to visit their school. Lincoln School, Mount Vernon Leadership Academy, Hamilton School, Cecil H. Parker School and Graham School held Dads Bring Your Child to School Day on Thursday, September 21, 2023.  

Brian Simmons

The Mount Vernon City School District Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department has announced that it will be offering emergency medical technician (EMT) training at Mount Vernon High School. The courses will be available for around 20 12th-grade students at MVHS and Rebecca Turner Academy (RTA).

Mr. Thomas, Dr. Pope, Ms. Naughton and students.

Two alumni of Mount Vernon High School spoke to a crowd of 11th graders and motivated them to excel in their studies and accomplish great things. Erica Naughton, assistant principal at MVHS, invited Dr. Gloria Pope and Steven “Butch” Thomas to show scholars the success that Mount Vernon graduates and residents can achieve. Mr. Thomas and Dr. Pope visited MVHS on Tuesday, September 19, 2023.

Logo for news post

Recently, some students in the region came across a concerning post on the popular social media platform TikTok. This post contained a generic threat that mentioned "open fire" on schools without specifying any particular school or district. It is important to note that such posts are not isolated incidents and are unfortunately prevalent on various social media platforms worldwide. Their intent is often to create alarm, annoyance, and disrupt the educational process.

Royce Russell

The Mount Vernon City School District welcomes In-House Counsel Royce Russell. Mr. Russell is an attorney specializing in employment (wrongful termination and discrimination), contracts, and civil rights violations. He will work with all aspects of the District, including legal, policies and procedures, and daily operations.