Bellwood-Antis faculty gearing up for new school year

Faculty and staff within the Bellwood-Antis School District are busy preparing the schools for the return of students in a few short weeks.
Superintendent Brian Toth said, “We’re gearing up for school to start in a few weeks.”
He added the first day for Bellwood-Antis students will be August 30.
Toth offered his compliments to the custodial staff, saying things look great. Preparations are two weeks ahead of schedule.
A new substitute calling system will be put in place and training will be held on August 23 and 24. According to Toth, those substitute teachers who were approved at the July and August board meetings will be able to participate in the training.
The new school year will also bring some changes to the high school staff, including principal Diane Williams and academic principal, Tom Otto.
Williams previously served as assistant principal at the school for 15 years.
“I’ve been a part of the achievement, success and traditions for 15 years,” she said of her time spent at Bellwood-Antis, “I think the challenge of being the leader is something I’m looking forward to.”
Williams said Bellwood-Antis is a very desirable place to work and she appreciated the involvement of the community, staff and parents.
“What’s especially desirable to me is that all of the effort is for the students and I really think they benefit.”
Toth said, “I think Diane is going to do an exceptional job, she brings many years of experience.”
Another new face that will be seen around the school is academic principal, Thomas Otto.
Otto is a Bellwood-Antis graduate and former basketball standout. He previously served as assistant principal at Keith Junior High School.
According to Toth, the role of assistant principal has been revamped. The job, now titled academic principal will expand its duties.
With the school year approaching, Otto said he continues to be very busy preparing for school to start. Otto also pointed out that sports practices begin this week.
Middle school Principal Robert Fisher and elementary principle Terri Harpster both shared their excitement about the upcoming school year and a new district-wide bullying prevention program that will be put in place.
A banner will hang in the elementary school reading BARK against bullies. BARK stands for Bellwood-Antis recognizes kids. At the middle school, students will receive a bracelet reading BAMS – bully free. Also, “bullying rules” posters will be laminated and placed throughout the district and students will recite their pledge to help stop bullying at Bellwood-Antis.
“This is just another thing we can do to raise awareness,” said Fisher.
When asked if she thinks there is a lot of bullying going on within the elementary school, Harpster said, “We have enough.”
She said it isn’t necessarily kids bullying others physically, but she said she has noticed an increase in cliques with younger students.
Harpster also spoke about the Summer Literacy Academy, which 14 students completed this summer.
“All of our students improved in most categories,” she said, “We were pleased for our first year.”