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West County has first day of school

Lots of loyal West County Bulldogs showed up for the first day of school Wednesday morning in Frankclay, their parents taking photos to document the moment for posterity. (Dan Schunks)

Dan Schunks,

An enthusiastic Superintendent Dr. Kevin Coffman assessed the opening of school at West County, as he begins his last year as Superintendent of West County Schools:

“This is the best day of the year! The buildings are ready, the kids are anxious and enthused, and the teachers are ready to go!  The rooms look great! This is the best place to be!”

Coffman may be retiring, but you would never know it from his positive, energized demeanor on Wednesday morning.

Coffman said he expects a district-wide enrollment of approximately 980, which would be an increase of about 30 students over last year.

See more “first day” photos at Daily Journal Online Photos – Daily Journal Online

Students come from Leadwood, Irondale, Terre du Lac, Frankclay, Mitchell, Wortham, Hickory Grove and surrounding areas in St. Francois and Washington counties.

The energy was obvious at the elementary school, with children beaming in anticipation of a new year.

Students with new school clothes and backpacks were greeted by teachers with smiles and sincere welcomes of “glad to see you back! We’ve missed you! We’ll have a great year!” One could see the relief flood over many students’ faces as they saw a familiar and friendly face among the adults.

While summer vacation is over, students and teachers alike appear to be eagerly anticipating the new school year. Now, several years past COVID-19, things finally are beginning to return to normalcy.

There are several administrative changes this year in the West County district. Levi Rawson is now the deputy superintendent. Replacing Rawson as high school principal is James Abel, and taking over as elementary principal is Steve Voyles. Ms. Lindsey Jackson remains as the middle school principal.

Coffman commended the staff for their diligent work in preparing the buildings for the new school year and particularly recognized the work of David Fritchley, the district bus mechanic, for his careful and thorough preparation of all the buses for their routes.

This year there are about 80 teachers among the West County faculty, 24 in the high school, 23 in the middle school, and 36 in the elementary. There are 10 new faculty members joining the staff this school year.

Last year, the district had 958 students with 296 in the high school, 252 in the middle school, and 410 in the elementary. Early projections show an increase this year of 20 students in the elementary, bringing total enrollment there to 430.

The school calendar for the year shows no classes on Labor Day, Sept. 5. The end of the first quarter is scheduled for Oct. 14. Parent-teacher conferences are set for Oct. 25 from 3-7 p.m. and Oct. 27 from 1-6 p.m. Oct. 27 will be a half day for students and no classes will be held Oct. 28 for a Professional Development (PD) Day for faculty. There will be no school Nov. 23-25 for Thanksgiving. Second quarter will conclude Dec. 20 and Christmas break will run from Dec. 21-Jan. 3.

Teachers will have a PD day on Jan. 3 with classes resuming for the second semester Jan. 4. There will be no school Jan. 16 for Martin Luther King Day and no school Feb. 20 for President’s Day. The end of the third quarter is March 10. Easter break will be from April 6-10. Graduation is scheduled for May 12 with the last day of the 2023-24 school year scheduled for May 18. May 19 will be a teacher work day.  Summer school will begin May 22 and run through June 15.

New friends being made, old friends reuniting, old routines abandoned, new routines established, plans for the future being made, with dreams hovering on the horizon, and, oh yes, learning renewed. It is a special time of life filled with all the joys and travails of growing into their adult selves. It’s a difficult time for kids and parents, but it is also an important time. They’re heading down the highway of life. Let’s hope they have a safe trip and reach the destination of their choice.



  1. Victoria on August 25, 2023 at 1:22 pm

    Love all the back to school photos!

    • Sarah Haas on August 26, 2023 at 6:11 am

      Thank you! We like taking them for you all.

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