More Than 500 Students Start New School Year at New School at SouthPointe Elementary in Winter Haven
by James Coulter
Kathryn True escorted her two daughters, Aria, 8, and Layla LeDuc, 6, to the front door of their new school Friday morning on the first day of school.
Both of her little girls were dressed in their best clothes with their pastel-colored lavender backpacks and Aria with a pink cat ear headband.
Both girls, as with most children their age, were nervous about attending a new school, having transferred from Chain of Lakes Elementary two miles down the road, but their mother was relieved they would finally have room to learn (and breathe) in a proper classroom.
“The Chain of Lakes is overcrowded,” Kathryn said. “My daughter spent four years in a portable. So, we are looking for a fresh start. We are expecting good expectations with this being a Cambridge school.”
Aria and Layla were two of the 500 students who attended the first day of school on Friday at SouthPointe Elementary in Winter Haven. At approximately 127,000 square feet, the new school has the capacity to serve nearly 1,000 students.
Located at 9525 State Highway 653 in Winter Haven, the campus is built at the southernmost point of Winter Haven near Bartow, hence the name, SouthPointe Elementary. Their school mascot is the osprey.
SouthPointe Elementary cost approximately $47 million to construct and features state-of-the-art amenities such as interactive white boards. It also includes science labs, a TV studio/classroom, media center, two playgrounds, and a paved play area.
The school was built to help meet the needs of a growing community. Polk County is quickly becoming the fastest-growing county in Florida and the seventh fastest-growing in the country, according to a study by the Givewell Community Foundation.
The neighborhood across the street from the new school has 500-plus homes. With so many new people moving into the city and county, the new school will help facilitate new students, explained Principal Dart Myers.
The principal previously served at Frostproof Ben Hill Griffin Jr. Elementary. He will be serving alongside Assistant Principal Maude Frazier, who previously served at Horizons Elementary in Davenport, and was the 2021 Polk County Teacher of the year.
Myers’ main priority is ensuring the safety and security of his students. He hopes they will have a routine day with everyone arriving at campus, going to their classrooms, having breakfast and lunch, and leaving later that day and arriving at their homes safely.
“That is our main objective for today, as well as for the teachers to bring the children together as a family in the classroom with positive relations through all our procedures and routines,” Myers said.
“Our expectations for the new year, as a new school, as we implement new routines and procedures, [is that] we will be flexible and fluid, and some of those things will need to be tweaked as we see how things are operated,” he further elucidated. “Other than that, [we] welcome the kids and help them to learn to get ready by the end of the year for the next grade level.”
For more information, visit their website at: https://southpointe.polkschoolsfl.com/