In just a few short weeks, Mansfield High School will welcome its students for another school year. When those students return, they will notice the many changes that have occurred to their school since they left in May for the summer vacation months.

Among the significant changes for MHS this year will be the new faculty members who will be part of the school’s instructional staff. Ms. Lindsey Hester will replace Mrs. Bridget Freeman in 9th and 11th grade English. Ms. Hester is from Hartford and holds a degree in English from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. She is also currently enrolled in the masters of arts in teaching degree program at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

Dr. Meredith Akins will join the staff this year as the school’s biology and environmental science teacher. Dr. Akins will replace Kathy Reeves who will accompany her husband to Thailand where the couple will serve as part of a church mission group to that country. Dr. Akins holds a bachelor degree in biology from Austin College in Texas, as well as a PhD in interactive biology from Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. She is a native of Fort Smith and a graduate of Fort Smith Southside High School.

Mr. Tim Cothran has recently served as an assistant football coach on the Greenwood High School football staff during some of its most successful seasons. Coach Cothran will teach U.S. History and will assist new head football coach, Brandon Elmore, during the upcoming football season, as well as assist in baseball during the spring.

Ms. Lucretia McAlister will replace Wanda Foresberg in special education at MHS during the 2013-14 school year. Ms. McAlister is a graduate of Waldron High School and holds a bachelors degree from Arkansas Tech University. Ms. McAlister will bring 21 years of experience in education to her students at MHS.

Assistant coaches Brandon Elmore and April Howell have been promoted to head coaches in football and volleyball, respectively. Brandon will replace Jason Gill who has joined the football staff at Greenwood Jr. High School, and April replaces Brent Reeves who has joined his wife Kathy on a mission trip to Thailand. Coach John Mackey has transferred back to MHS from Mansfield Middle School where he previously taught physical education and will return to the Algebra 1 classroom at MHS this year. Keith Dake, who taught in the school’s alternative education program last year, has been promoted to head senior girls’ basketball coach for the upcoming season. The Lady Tigers softball team will be coached this year by new head coach Kyle Lem. Coach Lem will be assisted by Lex Mickle.

MHS has a new principal this year; he is Dr. Jim Best, who for the past two years, has served as the district’s curriculum and Federal programs director. Mrs. Tina Smith, who has served as MHS principal for the past eleven years, has swapped positions and is the new curriculum and Federal programs director for the district.

"The most significant changes that our students will notice this year, in addition to the new faces on the faculty, will be a new daily bell schedule that will be highlighted by two lunch shifts, a Wednesday schedule that will include a home room period, and the change of detention hall being moved from lunch to mornings before the start of the school day. The new schedule will give all students more time to eat lunch each day. Students enrolled in vocational classes at Fort Smith will now be able to eat during the first lunch shift and still leave in time for classes in Fort Smith. A salad bar is being added to the menu offerings in the MHS cafeteria, and we believe the combination of the menu changes and the lunch schedule will be welcomed changes for our students", according to principal Dr. Jim Best.

"The move of detention hall to 7:35 a.m. will hopefully improve our student discipline each day, helping us to focus on daily instruction."

MHS will host "Parents’ Night" at the school on Thursday, August 15, from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Students’ class schedules will be available at that time for pick-up. "Parents’ Night" is a great opportunity to pick up class schedules and to immediately meet the staff, especially in light of the many new faces that will be on the faculty this year. Students will have the opportunity to pay any textbook or library fines that are owed to the school. Students must be cleared from the school’s fine list before a new schedule or the previous year’s report cards will be issued. Student parking passes will also be on sale during Parents’ Night, as well.

Students may also pre-pay their school lunch accounts during Parents’ Night on August 15. Applications for free and / or reduced-price breakfast and lunch will be available for pick-up. We strongly encourage all parents to fill out a reduced-price application.

Classes begin on August 19. The first bell will ring at 8 a.m., and students’ first period classes will begin at 8:05 a.m.

Families who would like to register new students at MHS for the upcoming school year can do so Monday – Friday by visiting the school between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The school is located at 2500 Highway 71 South in Mansfield. Parents can also contact the school by calling 479-928-1105 for more information.

Another highly anticipated change in the Mansfield school district is the opening of the new school-based health center. Although the facility is located on the district’s elementary campus, it will be available to MHS students. The availability of medical, dental, vision, and mental health care on campus distinguishes Mansfield from other school districts statewide. The clinic will be an asset for both routine care and in the event of student illness during school hours. The grand opening of the clinic is slated for September. More information will be available in the coming weeks.

The Tigers’ 2013-14 senior athletic seasons will kick off on August 20 with a Red / White volleyball game at 6 p.m. in the MHS gymnasium. The team’s first match will be on the road at Siloam Springs on Thursday, August 29. The senior football team will open the season on Friday, September 6 at Waldron. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Students, parents, and patrons are encouraged to visit the district’s website at The MHS website can be accessed from the district page by clicking on the "schools" tab, and then on "high school" The high school page will contain school calendar and announcement information throughout the year.