When the Cherokee Elementary morning bell rings at 8:10 Aug. 15 for the new school year, Principal Marissa McCoy and the teachers hope students are in class and ready to learn. And they hope that good habit continues all year.
McCoy – who comes to Cherokee this year from Sequoyah Elementary – said teachers will make a special effort to have students at school on time.
“One of the other things that is very important is tardiness. When we say school starts at 8:10, that means they need to be in their rooms at 8:10,” said McCoy. “Anytime a student comes in late, [he or she] misses out on instruction, and a classroom of 20 students also misses out, because the teacher has to stop teaching and help the tardy student settle into class.”
McCoy doesn’t want to see tardiness become a habit for any Cherokee Elementary student. If a habit does form, and it’s necessary, the school resource officer will be provided with the details, and parents may receive a visit from the officer or even end up in truancy court or face a fine. But McCoy hopes it never gets to that point.
“We’re definitely looking forward to a new year, a great year,” said McCoy. “Our staff is fantastic, a fantastic team that will go above and beyond to meet the needs of all students. Our front door is always open, and we love for parents to come in and volunteer and feel they can always come to us for any reason.”
School days begin at 8:10 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m., though students who participate in the after-school Boys & Girls Club program will be on site until 5 p.m. Breakfast will begin daily at 7:30 a.m. and end when students are being dismissed to classrooms at 7:55 a.m. The cost for breakfast is $1 per student, and lunches cost $2 per student.
“Students can be dropped off as early as 7 a.m., and go straight to the gym,” said McCoy.
Access to the building will be available through only one door – the main entrance on the west side of the campus – for visitors and parents. Visitors can access that door by traveling east from the intersection of Oklahoma and Goingsnake onto Beth Harrington Avenue, a one-way street west of Cherokee Elementary. Children who ride buses will be dropped off and picked up on the south end of the school.
“No one else will be allowed in that door; it’s only for bus riders, so no parents should park there,” said McCoy. “On the first day of school, a lot of parents will bring their children in, so they should just park in any empty parking spot [along Beth Herrington Avenue]. Or they can just drop off at the door, and we’ll have teachers there to assist students.”
All doors, excluding the main entrance on the west side of the school, are locked during the day.
“Every person who walks in the building will check in and get a visitors pass, and if they sneak past us, we’ll hunt them down,” said McCoy. “And for the safety of all children, parents need to keep us updated on any custody changes or any changes on who can or can’t pick up their child.”
McCoy said that information should be provided at the Cherokee Elementary office. That’s also where parents will start when they need to check a child out of school for any reason.
“They just need to come in the front office and tell us who they need. We check to make sure that person is allowed to pick them up,” said McCoy.
Because of the district’s rezoning and shuffling of staff this year, students will see several new faces at Cherokee, including many new teachers. McCoy said the site also has counselors, resources officers, a DHS worker and others on-site to assist when needed.
“If you have any issues, you can start by talking with me, our parent liaison, or your classroom teacher, and we will use every resource we have to make sure that we get them what they need,” said McCoy.
Cherokee Elementary will hold a signup for the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization Monday, Aug. 13, during the school’s summer social, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
“We would love to have new members that could help us,” said McCoy. “PTOs meet once a month, and there’s a $10 membership at Cherokee for a family membership.”
For more information on enrollment at Cherokee, call the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education office at (918) 458-4100, or call Cherokee at (918) 458-4110.