MILTON — Avalon Middle School, located in the mid-point between Milton High School and Pace High School and serves as a feeder school between the two, hailed in a new year Monday with smiling faces and laughter as students and staff geared up for their 2019-2020 school year.

The school, which celebrated earning an "A" ranking last year and will celebrate its 20 year anniversary this year, commits to providing a positive, literacy-rich environment that challenges all students to develop as critical thinkers, excel academically, and believe in their own potential, said Principal Tonya Shepherd.

This year's theme for the school is "Level U," said Rosylyn Curtis, the Avalon Middle School's assistant principal, with the addition of #ittakesgrit.

"We added the hashtag because we are not content," Curtis said. "We are going to continue to excel as much as possible."

Curtis said she expects great things this year and for the students and staff to "level up and get gritty." She said this year the school will be implementing more awareness to the students of high expectations in the classrooms and making sure sure the students meet their academic goals. 

"We are trying to make sure that our students are not only college ready but career ready as well," she said. "Whatever plan or pathway they choose."

Students were also expecting great things from the coming year.

Seventh graders Micailla Park and Zeke Maxwell said they both were excited for the upcoming year and looked forward to seeing their former teachers and meeting new ones.

"I'm prepped and ready for school to start," Maxwell said. "I expect greatness from this school. It is just an awesome school."

Park said she was nervous about meeting her teachers, but knew that they will be there for students if they need them.

"(The teachers) are pretty good about what they do," Park said. "They are pretty caring."

Park said one of the things she is most looking forward to this year is her theater class.

"I heard it was an option and I just had to take it," she said.

Maxwell's mother, Molly Maxwell, teaches eighth grade science at the school. She said she enjoys having him at the school.

"Avalon is a great school," Molly said. "We are busting at the seams. We have a lot of great kids."

With her son being at the school, Molly said she never feels the urge to walk by his class and check up on him because she feels he is always on top of it and the teachers are always supportive if they do have questions.