The clamor of an old-fashioned school bell marked Lakeview Academy students’ first day of the school year Tuesday.
Lakeview Academy Headmaster Jim Robison rang the bell at the start of the private school’s third annual convocation ceremony.
All first- through 12th-graders filled the stands of the academy’s Walters Athletic Center to watch teachers and faculty outfitted in caps and gowns march in to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance."
Robison said the convocation marks the beginning of the circle that ends with graduation. He said the most important aspect of the convocation ceremony is the upper school students’ signing of the honor code register.
In preparation for the signing of the honor code register, middle school students review the honor code with their advisers.
Carol McClendon, mother of two daughters who attend third and seventh grades at Lakeview Academy, said the values and integrity that Lakeview Academy folds into its everyday learning approach drew her to enroll her children in the school.
"I think one of the most important things is that students sign the honor code, agreeing not to lie, cheat or steal, or approve of those who do," McClendon said. "The administrators take it very seriously, and they impress that upon the children, and that’s a good thing."
In his address to the more than 500 students in attendance, Robison encouraged students to step up to the challenges of the honor code. He also encouraged students to begin the school year with a courageous and kind attitude.
"When we say have a heart, we mean kindness. When we say take heart, we mean have courage," Robison said. "I challenge you to be courageous and kind. Take heart and have heart."
The convocation ceremony wrapped up as students lined up to shake the hands of the teachers they will be seeing every school day between today and the last day of school on May 22.
Robison said Lakeview Academy started a new tradition Tuesday in which students in the entry levels of the lower, middle and upper school ring the bell as a sort of initiation into their new school. And on senior awards nights during May, students will ring the bell again for the fourth and final time.
"We have this bell tower here and it seems to me to be an awful waste not to be able to ring it," he said. "School bells go back hundreds of years, and I think it’s important to give them a sense of the tradition they’re a part of."
Robison said Lakeview Academy is celebrating its 39th school year this year.
Sondra Berry, communications director for Lakeview Academy, said the convocation officially ended with ninth-grade students proceeding to the bell tower to ring the school bell.
Robison said first-graders rang the bell later Tuesday morning and sixth-graders rang the bell on Monday at their orientation. He said the bell-ringing idea started on senior awards night in May, with students of the class of 2008 ringing the bell in celebration of their pending graduation.
The school is also in the early stages of expanding facilities for its 596 students. The school recently completed the expansion of its cafeteria, doubling its capacity to 400 students. Robison said the $1.5 million cafeteria expansion at the lower school is just the first stage of the schools’ estimated $7.5 million expansion project.
"Our lower school is bursting at the seams right now," he said.
With half of Lakeview Academy’s students enrolled in the lower schools, Robison said the school hopes to raise funds to build 15 new classrooms in the lower school to provide a total of 21 classrooms in the lower school. He said presently, the lower school is using six modular classrooms.