Not surprisingly, 2013 was year of growth in the Northwest school district. By the time the 2013-14 school year began in late August, enrollment in Northwest, one of the state’s fastest growing districts, had topped 19,000 students – and growing.
To keep pace with the escalating enrollment, work began on the district’s third comprehensive high school, V.R. Eaton, which will open in Roanoke in 2015 to ease growth that would otherwise have the two existing comprehensive high schools, Byron Nelson and Northwest, over capacity within a few years.
The future new high school wasn’t the only campus construction going on. The district in August opened its 17th elementary school campus, Wayne A. Cox, in Roanoke. An official dedication ceremony for the campus was held in November.
"It was great," Cox Principal Debbie McCune said in August after the first day of school. "It was a great day. Kids and families were so excited."
Another Northwest elementary, Kay Granger, received a prestigious honor in May when it was named a National School of Character by the Character Education Partnership. Granger, which was among 29 schools and districts across the nation to receive this honor, was recognized for its commitment to character education and for fostering a positive environment for social and academic learning.
May was also when voters selected Anne Davis-Simpson and Judy Copp to fill two seats on the Northwest Board of Trustees. Copp, who has been on the board since 2012, ran unopposed for Place 4. Davis-Simpson was elected to Place 3 with 62 percent of voter approval. Also on the Place 3 ballot were Kyle Morris and Edward R. Mergenthal, Jr.
"The Northwest Board of Trustees in collaboration with district administrators, faculty, staff, and community members have worked diligently to chart a path of greatness for our students in Northwest ISD," Davis-Simpson said after being elected. "It is a privilege to serve as a part of this great team and continue the work."
For Northwest, 2013 was also a year of innovations. The district in August fully launched its new online registration that now allows parents to get on the Internet to register their new or returning students to Northwest school district. Online registration replaced back-to-school packets students formerly received on the first day of classes.
But the most impressive innovation might be the mobile application the district launched in October. The app gives users quick access to district news, school calendars, faculty/staff contact information and more. About 2,600 users downloaded the app in the first week it was available. A second phase will launch in January that will give parents access to grades, attendance records and school lunch account information.
"Our app is completely customized and designed for our school district with features we know our parents, teachers and community will use," said Emily Conklin, the district’s director of communications when the app launched.