Walking the halls of Dorothy P. Adkins Elementary School in Lantana Monday on the first day of classes seemed familiar to its namesake, a longtime Denton teacher and former school board member.
Dorothy Adkins, 93, began teaching school in 1939 and was one of a group of women who worked together to help the integration of Denton campuses in the 1970s. Adkins also served as a school board trustee in Denton from 1993 to 1999.
“She’s been a strong advocate for civil rights and men’s and women’s rights,” said Sharon Cox, spokesperson for the Denton Independent School District, adding it was one of many reasons her name was selected for the new school.
It’s an honor Adkins says she never expected: “It’s absolutely overwhelming and awesome.”
Walking from classroom to classroom, Adkins greeted teachers and students alike.
“One of the reasons I have the school named after me is I taught students for so many years,” she said to a class of first graders. “I used to teach students just like you and I loved it.”
An estimated 300 students and their parents arrived at the campus on Simmons Road off FM 407, many excited to get the school year started.
Shannon O’Brien and her mother, Carolyn Carlisle, were among the parents and grandparents escorting their little ones to school.
“We’ve been driving by every week to watch it [being built],” O’Brien said, adding that the day before, she attended a blessing of the school organized by Argyle United Methodist Church.
Inside the school, Thea Wood and several other moms manned the “Yahoo! Boo Hoo!” breakfast table where parents could grab a bite to eat. Planned by the Adkins Parent-Teacher Association, the breakfast was sponsored by North Star Academy.
“I don’t think there were many tears,” Wood said. “I think everyone was pretty excited.”
Denton County Sheriff Will Travis arrived early, donning a safety vest and helping with the traffic and crosswalk. He said deputies were assisting at campuses across the region to help ensure the safety of students in area school districts.
Dr. Jaime Wilson, superintendent of Denton ISD, stopped by as he does at each of the district’s campuses on the first day of school.
Tori, 7, and her mother, Heidi Garrett of Lantana, were among the early arrivals. Wearing cowboy boots along with a new dress, Tori arrived ready to start second grade. “She’s a little scared,” her mother said. “She’s excited about being first in a new school.”
From hugging new students to greeting parents, Emily McLarty darted from group to group offering greetings to the campus now under her administration.
“I have been waiting for this moment for months,” she said, adding that it takes a lot to get a new school ready.
Pointing to the hallway lined with green and blue tack boards ready to showcase student’s work, McLarty told Adkins as they walked down the hallway of Adkins Elementary that she’d been hurrying in recent days to get everything measured, cut and looking just right.
Adkins, nodding, said, “I remember what it was like. It looks good.”