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School back in session

System sees more than 3,330 students on first day

POSTED: August 15, 2012 4:00 a.m.
Chelsea Thomas Dawson Community News/

Daisy Alexander, center left, meets classmate Amber Phillips, right, on their first day of kindergarten Thursday at Black’s Mill Elementary. Page Galbreath, left, and Lily Alexander, third-grader, look on.

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With backpacks stuffed with sharpened pencils, crisp notebook paper and shiny folders, more than 3,300 children fresh from summer break poured into Dawson County schools Thursday.

"The first day is fun, exciting, anxious all rolled into one. They are so excited and they love it," said Leslie White, kindergarten teacher at Black's Mill Elementary.

White, who has been teaching for 12 years, said the first day of school is exhilarating, perhaps more so for kindergartners.

While waiting for the doors to open early Thursday, some kindergartners held their parents' hands, shooting nervous glances at other students.

For some the morning held tears and heartache, although for most it was new and exciting.

"Sometimes I think it is harder on the parents than it is the kids," White said.

Black's Mill Principal Cindy Kinney agreed, citing the worried faces that fill the school halls that first day.

"We see the parents more in tears than the kids," she said.

Yet by the time the children move on to middle school, the tides have usually changed, officials said.

Riverview Middle School Principal Bill Zadernak said it's "a transitional time" for sixth-graders, but "the seventh- and eighth-graders know what to do."

"We have made a little bit of a time schedule adjustment and tutorial change from last period to first period, but otherwise our kids know what our bells mean, they know their schedules," he said.

Many students balance conflicting emotions on the first day.

"You always have a mix ... half the kids are so excited to be back because they get to see their friends, see their teachers," Zadernak said. "Then you have the half thinking sorrowfully that the summer is over."

Ryan Franklin, father of a kindergartner, had his own conundrum Thursday. While happy for his son to start school, he was also sentimental.

"I am looking forward to watching him grow up and further his education," he said.

Yet for high school students the start of a new school year often kicks off with less concern and more anticipation. With school back in session, athletics, extracurricular activities and social events are in full swing.

Still, academics for all students remain the central focus, one that teachers try to make appealing the first week of school.

"We teach kids that school is the vehicle to get them where they want to go," Zadernak said.

"We give them learning skills so if they want to be a mechanic they can be a mechanic, if they want to be a teacher they can be a teacher, if they want to be a stockbroker they can be a stockbroker... School is the vehicle to get there. So we try to get them to enjoy being here and being in school."

According to Superintendent Keith Porter, the system has 3,378 students enrolled so far, which is a slight increase from last year. He said enrollment will continue to rise until after Labor Day, when it tends to level out.

The last day of classes for the 2012-2013 school year is set for May 24. Christmas break will run from Dec. 21 to Jan. 8.

 

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