Summer is officially over, and school is in session at Belle Plaine Junior/Senior High School.  Students from seventh through twelfth grade filed into the building and were greeted by faces both familiar and brand new on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

But it wasn’t just the students who are preparing for their first day of school. Mindy Chevalier, the former assistant principal for the building, is starting this year as the head principal for the first time.

Chevalier, citing her 10 years of experience in the district, believes she and her staff have what it takes to hit the ground running in the 2019-20 school year.

“We’ve been prepping and planning since basically school got out,” Chevalier said, within the school’s commons area surrounded by incoming students. “To have the energy and kids back in the building is really exciting.”

In addition to a couple new faces on the staffing side, the junior/senior high school is set to begin their new social-emotional learning program, Move This World, on Friday, Sept. 6. Chevalier stated that the addition of the program, which will have students undergoing video and in-class programming geared at challenging them to understand and grapple with complex emotions and situations among other things, is an extension of the school’s effort to make students and teachers feel welcome in the school.

As she steps into her role as principal, Chevalier feels like the momentum is on her side, as well as that of the new assistant principal Margot Hansen and the rest of the staff and faculty members.

“I feel like [stepping into the principal role] is a natural progression for me and the people who have allowed me to lead along the way,” Chevalier said, “and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way our summer has gone with our different trainings.”

Just before 7:55 a.m., a student approached Chevalier for last-minute preparations for the day to start.

“Are the iPads in the office?” the student asked Chevalier through the sound of students’ socializing.

“They’re in the library, buddy,” she replied.

Another pair of basketball players Chevalier has coached, one junior and one senior, greeted the principal before making their way into a social circle.

In the office a pair of seniors were in a line of five or so students waiting to interact with the school secretary.

Lizzy Hilgers and Madison McGrane, who entered the building for their last first day of school, had a hard time believing Tuesday was the beginning of the end of their high school careers.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” McGrane said.

“I think once I hear the first bell, I’ll be like, ‘Oh, this is my last year,’” Hilgers added.

Both seniors are taking college classes through the post-secondary enrollment option program.

“[I want to] graduate by making it to first hour everyday,” Hilgers said with a smile.

“Oh yeah, that’s going to be a struggle,” McGrane added.

At 7:55 a.m., students began filing into the building as the faculty and staff greeted them with applause.

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