By Kathy Kreag Richardson Indiana State Representative, District 29
Noblesville schools recently welcomed students and teachers back to the classroom, while Hamilton Heights and Hamilton Southeastern schools are gearing up to begin classes this week. And we can't forget about all of the college students starting a new semester. If you follow Facebook, it is always fun to see all of the kids in their back-to-school pictures, ready to learn and start the new school year. The first day of class can be stressful, whether you're going to school for the first time or are preparing for your senior year. However, a new school year brings a fresh start, time to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, chances to learn and other exciting opportunities. With a little organization and preparation, we can help our children have a successful year.
Here in Hamilton County, we have some of the best schools in the state. Our teachers are passionate and committed to student growth. A child's success is very much a team effort, and with support from home and at school, students will be better prepared to meet the challenges they may face. Parents and teachers are also good people to talk and turn to for help in difficult situations such as bullying.
Outside of the traditional classroom, after-school activities offer students opportunities to learn new skills, get involved in their community and socialize. For example, members of the Noblesville Marching Millers band have worked hard all summer, practicing for this season and successfully competing in contests. I am looking forward to seeing them perform this fall at home football games in Noblesville. Whether joining the marching band, competing with the debate team or participating in a play, extra-curricular activities can help students become well-rounded individuals with a better understanding of the world around them.
In addition, maintaining a proper sleep schedule and healthy diet are also important. According to the National Sleep Foundation, in order to perform to the best of their abilities, children ages 6 to 13 need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. School-aged teens, 14 to 18, need between 8 and 10 hours. Eating a nutritious lunch is beneficial to keep your child focused and supply them with the energy needed to fight off common illnesses as we approach cold and flu season. It is also a good idea to check that your child is up-to-date on his or her shots, which you can find by visiting the Indiana Department of Health's MyVaxIndiana portal.
Students heading back to school also means more buses will be back on the roads. To keep our kids safe, please be mindful of students entering and exiting buses to avoid any accidents and injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 134 people die in school-vehicle-related crashes each year. We can hopefully prevent similar tragedies by following laws established to protect our students.
When a school bus makes a stop to pick up or drop off children, all motorists must stop. Watch for school buses with their stop arms extended and red lights flashing, which means drivers from all directions must stop, unless the roadway is divided by a physical barrier.
Speed limits in school zones will also be in effect, and be alert for increased pedestrian traffic around schools. The Indiana State Police offers more school bus safety tips and resources online at www.in.gov/isp to help keep children safe.
I wish all of our Hamilton County students, educators and staff the best as they head back to school. Take advantage of this fresh start with a new school year. Do your best, be active, learn as much as you can and make the memories last.
Kathy Kreag Richardson is a Republican State Representative from District 29, which includes Noblesville, and has served in the legislature since 1992. She also is the elections administrator for Hamilton County. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.