First day of school is 'smooth as silk'

September 01, 1998

First Day of ClassBy MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer [enlarge]

Students returned to classrooms across Washington County Monday as the 1998-99 school year began, and educators reported that the first day went fairly smoothly.

Dave Reeder, principal of North Hagerstown High School's 1,270 students, said Monday that he and his staff were nervous about a change in schedules from seven periods a day to four in a semester format.

Rick Akers, North high assistant principal, and the counselors worked late nights and Saturdays on the schedules, Reeder said.

Reeder said there were few problems the first day.

"We started our day as smooth as silk," said Thomas Ingram, principal of Lincolnshire Elementary School in Halfway.

Ingram heads the newly-remodeled elementary school that this year will hold between 520 and 530 students.

A new Head Start program with 18 more students also began this year under Lincolnshire's roof.


On Monday morning, some last-minute enrollees arrived with their parents. "But we were handling it," Ingram said.

Ingram said the youngsters were excited as they looked around at the improvements that have been made to classrooms, the gym and other parts of the school.

"The renovations have uplifted us all," Ingram said.

Jill Burkhart, Clear Spring Elementary School principal, had a different spin on the start of her school year.

"We're still waiting for our renovations which will begin next summer," Burkhart said. "With 430 students, we are managing but some of our classes are as big as 25-28 children."

She said the first day dawned bright and warm, a bit of a problem for the school, which won't get air conditioning until those renovations are done next year.

"But we're off to a good start ... there were a few criers but we took care of them quickly," she said.

Springfield Middle School Principal Roger Stenerson said the biggest challenges on the first day of school tend to be the noneducational ones - getting everybody fed at lunchtime and acclimating the new sixth-graders to their new surroundings.

"So far, our newest students have made three class changes and we haven't lost one yet," Stenerson said.

"We are up to almost 800 students but even so, there has been overwhelming calm this morning," Stenerson said of the school in Williamsport.

This year, all Washington County schools have been divided into sections, with an administrator assigned to visit each school in his or her section Monday, said Donna Messina, spokeswoman for the Washington County Board of Education.

They got together Monday afternoon to see where the problem areas might be, Messina said. Problem areas could include class sizes, transportation or any of a number of concerns.

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