08/03/04 — Start of school brings life to summer's empty halls

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Start of school brings life to summer's empty halls

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 3, 2004 2:01 PM

Lucy Lawrence, Jessica Willing and Heather Creameans have been friends since second and third grade.

Today, the first day of sixth grade, they reunited outside Greenwood Middle School and discovered another thing they have in common.

"We all have the same haircut," Lucy said. "We didn't know that until today."

They were among many clusters of students waiting outside the building for the bell to ring.

Inside the office, seventh-grader Kyle Sticklen leaned against a counter waiting to ask a question while a line formed outside.

Doris Overton tried to keep up with son Dorrian Washington, a sixth-grader, with daughter Kiera, a third-grader at Meadow Lane, in tow.

"I'm a little nervous," Ms. Overton said about the first day of school. "But I know it's a good school and he's a smart boy."

Upstairs in the school's annex, Sharon Bell prepared her classroom for the new arrivals. This begins her 17th year as an educator. She says the thing that brings her back with the same zeal each year is simple: the students.

"I love middle school," she said. "I'm excited about the first day, the new kids. It's a whole new ballgame."

She says she tries to make math and science fun for her sixth-graders.

"I do a theme every year to get me pumped up," she said. This year's theme will be "believe in yourself." She said she planned to play the Aretha Franklin song "Respect" this morning to motivate them.

Greenwood Principal Larry Dean said teachers like Ms. Bell have worked very hard to get ready for a new school year.

"They've been getting textbooks out, bus routes," he said this morning as the buses outside began to unload. "We've got the usual transportation problems, parents not knowing where to go. But things seem to be running smoothly."

He said he expects a full house at the school, sixth grade in particular.

"We're looking to be at our class limit, with 29 in every class," he said.

Olivia Pierce, the schools' executive director for community relations, said the school system will look at any situations of overcrowding or the need for additional teachers once school has gotten under way.

Typically, the enrollment shifts several times in the first few days. The schools wait for the 10th-day enrollment numbers before determining what changes to make in regards to class size.

She said opening day for the school system went well. Most of the opening and closing times remained the same, with only slight variations.

Kindergarten students attend this week on a staggered schedule to acclimate to the new setting. Small groups attend each day through Friday.

And for some, testing begins right away. Third-graders will be given pre-tests on Wednesday as a benchmark for the end-of-grade tests in math and reading.