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Parents say Gainesville High open house is a winner
Gainesville High School Red Elephant cheerleaders lead a cheer before parents and students are dismissed to their respective classrooms to meet teachers during an open house Sunday at the school. For the first time, the school held its open house on a Sunday to give parents who work a better chance to attend. - photo by SARA GUEVARA


Martha Hokayem, parent of a Gainesville High School senior, Louis, talks about her hopes for the upcoming school year.

Gainesville High School parents filled the school Sunday afternoon, retracing schedules followed by their children since school started Aug. 7.

"We want to be aware of what’s going on and meet the teachers," said Martha Hokayem, mother of senior Louis Hokayem. "We’re excited about this school year. I like the administration and how everything seems to be exciting and organized."

School administrators kicked off the open house with a program in the school’s Performing Arts Center, encouraging parents and students about the coming year.

"We encourage you to take a high focus on your child’s education," said interim principal Chris Mance. "... We have a great faculty and a great student body."

The GHS cheerleaders also presented a few cheers.

Parents then fanned out across the campus at 830 Century Place.

Mance said that previously the school’s open house had been held during the week.

"I wanted to do this on a Sunday and remove the excuse of work from parents," he said. "High school parents sometimes don’t feel like they should be involved anymore."

The school’s PTA also tried to drum up more parent participation.

"We want to keep the PTA alive at this level," said president Jody Cooley, who sold red-and-black GHS spirit wear in the lobby. "We think that is very important."

Hokayem and her husband, visiting with son David, a fifth-grader, didn’t have Louis Hokayem tagging along, but that didn’t stop them from checking out classes.

"Teachers are going out of their way to be helpful to the parents, (with) open invitations to call ... if you need anything," George Hokayem said. "... We’re looking forward to a great school year."

The Dean family made an outing of the open house. Alesia and Michael Dean brought their daughter, GHS junior Mickale Dean, and son, Davade Dean, a seventh-grader at Gainesville Middle, to check out Mickale Dean’s schedule.

Alesia Dean said this school year will be one of "getting down to the nitty-gritty," with Mickale Dean taking key exams — such as the Georgia High School Graduation Tests — and looking more seriously at college.

"No more playing," she said. "We have to get prepared for what’s next."

Mickale Dean is excited. The 16-year-old is a member of the band’s color guard and the school’s student council, among other organizations.

"I think it’ll be a fun year," she said.

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