When it comes to size, the Goochland County school system is certainly on the smaller end of the spectrum.

And yet, in this case, small is most definitely mighty.

Popping into Goochland High School last week for an interview with two new teachers (see story, page 5), it was hard not to feel a palpable sense of excitement as the first day of school drew near.

I’ve been fortunate to cover a number of school districts as a reporter, and I have always maintained that Goochland schools just to seem to have a certain special “something” that sets them apart. It is difficult to put a finger on it, but it is glimpsed in the enthusiasm of the teachers and staff, the attitudes displayed by the administration officials, and the way that the students seem to embrace the educational opportunities offered to them.

Of course, every school system has its challenges, but GCPS under the guidance of Dr. Jeremy Raley appears to be offering the kind of educational experience — caring but not coddling, intensive but not impossible to manage — that any parent would want for their child. 

Through programs like Goochland Tech, the division is able to reach students who don’t feel compelled to follow the high school-to-college-to-office track. Thanks to these offerings, hundreds of young people have graduated from Goochland High School ready to take their place in the workforce and lead happy, self-sufficient lives.

Much has changed since many of the people reading this column (and the person writing it, for that matter) spent the first week back at school readjusting to a routine and catching up with friends we hadn’t seen in months.

Gone in many cases, I suppose, are the smell of freshly-sharpened pencils and the heft of a backpack stuffed with 30 pounds of well-worn textbooks (note to students in 2019: count yourselves lucky).

The catching up is probably somewhat of a throwback as well, given social media’s ever-present tug.

What still remains, however, particularly in the Goochland schools I’ve had the pleasure to visit, is a focus on developing students into the best possible version of themselves, into people who are excited about learning and not intimidated by academic challenges.

As this new school year kicks off, we here at the Gazette wish all the students, teachers and administrators who make up GCPS much success.

We can’t wait to see what the future holds, and all that will be accomplished in the coming months.

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