HALLSVILLE — Hallsville ISD welcomed its staff back Friday and celebrated the new school year that will begin officially when students return to the classroom Wednesday.

The district’s hundreds of staff and teachers joined together Friday at a convocation to get mentally pumped up for the 2019-20 school year.

Part of the morning was spent celebrating the district’s accomplishments and its employees.

The Hallsville ISD Education Foundation gave 35 teachers each a $100 bill — money that will go to help them prepare their classrooms.

Hallsville ISD Superintendent Jeff Collum served as Friday’s speaker and reminded the teachers and staff of this school year’s theme, “You Raise Me Up.”

“We need to raise our students up; we need to raise each other up, and we need to raise this community up,” Collum said. “You never know what your students face before they get to your classroom — hunger, fear, sadness or happiness.

“Kids will show up Wednesday, ready or not. Raise each other up. Love your job. Find passion in what you do. The 2019-20 school year is upon us. Let’s have an outstanding year.”

Community Outreach Coordinator Carol Greer was given the district’s first ever Purple Heart Award for her nearly 50 years of service as a teacher, the district’s first spokeswoman and her work with Hallsville Western Days, the Miss Hallsville pageant and the Hallsville ISD Alumni Association.

Collum said that on Jan. 16, Greer was recognized for outstanding service in public education on the floor of the 86th legislative session. Greer is a 1964 Hallsville High School graduate, and 2019-20 will be her 50th year as a Hallsville ISD employee, the longest serving in the district.