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Students settle in for new year

August 25, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Ashley and Katlyn Hughes were not thrilled with the start of school Monday because they might have to go through it all over again today at a different school.

Melissa Hughes, 27, of Salem Avenue, said she had sought special permission allowing her daughters to attend Bester Elementary School since that was the district where their baby sitter lived.

After school on Monday, Hughes said school officials told her Ashley and Katlyn would today have to start attending their district school, Winter Street Elementary.

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Such baby sitter arrangements are legitimate reasons for Washington County Board of Education officials to allow students to attend an out-of-district school, said Jeanette Kaufmann, a pupil personnel worker.

Bester Principal William Wright said he did not talk to Hughes on Monday, but would look into the matter.

The Hughes children were two of 20,224 students who were expected to start pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in Washington County public schools on Monday.

Mom was more excited about the first day of school than her two young daughters.

Four-year-old Katlyn cried a bit before her first day of kindergarten began Monday afternoon, but managed to have a bit of fun. She came home with drawings to color and some candy.

Ashley, 8, said she would rather have been swimming than attending her first day of third grade in Nancy Weirich's class at Bester.

Ashley's classmate, Bradley Moats, 7, also wasn't excited about the first day of school, but that will probably change as he gets older, said Bradley's older brother, Phillip.

Phillip, 11, rode in-line skates over to Bester to pick up Bradley after he got out of sixth grade at E. Russell Hicks Middle School and made the traditional soda stop at Hartle's Confectionery on South Potomac Street.

Phillip was pumped about the first day of middle school.

"I get to do higher math," said the pre-algebra student.

Bradley also likes math.

"I like to do it because I know a lot about it," said Bradley, who already had received his math and science books.

Another big math fan is Melissa Blantz, 11, of Chambersburg, Pa. Melissa said she was a little nervous but excited about making the move from elementary school to Chambersburg Middle School this year, where she's in sixth grade.

Her younger brother Jeffrey Jr., 7, learned how to write a sentence in second-grade English class at King Street Elementary School.

Jeffrey also drew two colorful pictures that immediately took their places on the refrigerator at his East Queen Street home.

"That's popcorn all over the road," Blantz said, pointing to one drawing.

The Blantzes were two of nearly 21,000 students in six public school districts in Franklin County who attended their first day of school Monday, with most administrators reporting a smooth opening and few surprises.

"In years this is the easiest first day I can remember," said Robert Pratt, assistant principal at Waynesboro Area Senior High School where 1,400 students reported for the first day of school.

In the Chambersburg Area School District, where 8,000 students are enrolled, officials said the first day went well overall.

"It was a smooth start. We're pleased," said district spokesman Lynn Lerew.

There are always a few problems each school has to deal with on the first day, mainly accepting new students who weren't previously enrolled and dealing with unexpected bus route complications, he said.

"Those things all begin to settle down within the first few weeks," Lerew said.

When there are 10 to 12 identical yellow school buses lined up in front of the school at the end of the day, it's not uncommon for a few elementary students to get onto the wrong bus their first time, said Lamar Hollar, Chambersburg's transportation director.

"I think we have everybody home now," Hollar said, chuckling.

Public schools in the Eastern Panhandle open today.

Only one Washington County school bus experienced a problem on the way to school, overheating en route to Boonsboro middle and high schools, said Chris Carter, director of transportation. A spare bus was sent out to pick up students on bus 365 to get them to school on time, he said.

Helping to make the first day of school go smoothly were the area crossing guards.

It only takes her one day to learn all the new faces at her crossing in front of Bester Elementary, said Pat Carpenter, who has been a crossing guard for 21 years.

Carpenter, Shirley Moore and Marion Reno got plenty of hugs and hellos on Monday from returning students.

Moore and Reno, who guard Locust Point, said they take hugs where they can get them, preferably on the sidewalk where it's safer.

"I'm glad to be back. We love the kids. The kids keep us young," said Reno, 59.

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