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Classrooms full in Eastern Panhandle

August 28, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

EASTERN PANHANDLE - Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II said the first day of classes Monday was "a very good day."

"It's almost frightening," Arvon said with a laugh.

But not until after Labor Day will school officials know just how many additional students will be tallied, Arvon said.

The superintendent previously projected an increase over last year to range from 500 to 700 students.

Regardless, Arvon said that one fact could be garnered very quickly after the first day of class.

"We don't have any empty classrooms," he said.

Nearly 30,000 students returned to the classroom Monday at dozens of schools in the Eastern Panhandle counties of Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan.

Arvon said he commended the school system's department of transportation, particularly the 175 or more bus drivers for their work on the first day to get the estimated 17,000 students to and from class.

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"I am so impressed with our transportation department," Arvon said of the department's internal communications, which he said are not readily visible to the public.

All but the most minor of exterior renovations to Martinsburg South Middle School were completed in time, Arvon said.

That could not be said for Martinsburg High School's turf project, which Arvon said could take more time.

"If that's the only thing we have to worry about, it'll be a good year," Arvon said. "When it is completed, I think it's something the community will be proud of."

Jefferson County

In Jefferson County, about 210 more children showed up in classes compared to last year, said Superintendent of Schools Susan Wall.

The 8,275 students who showed up for classes represented about a 2.5 percent increase in the student population, Wall said.

"We're full, but it was a good day," Wall said.

Enrollment probably will increase because parents moving in from other states sometimes do not enroll their students until after Labor Day, Wall said.

School started again as work continued on a multi-million dollar renovation of Jefferson High School. A new gym is finished at the school and workers are converting the old gym, which will include features like a new weight room and dance studio, Wall said.

The renovation is expected to be completed this year, Wall said.

Combined with the Ninth Grade Center next door, Jefferson High School is considered the biggest high school in the state, Wall said.

Morgan County

Morgan County Schools had an easy transition back to school Monday.

"It went very smoothly," said Joan Willard, Morgan County's assistant superintendent.

All buses arrived safely Monday at the eight county schools that serve 2,653 students, she said.

No problems occurred "to my knowledge," Willard said.

Staff writers Dave McMillion and Trish Rudder contributed to this story.

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