Schools open in Franklin County

August 28, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The first day of school is a relief to some parents and a moment of melancholy for others who, like Stefanie Pensinger, were sending a child to school for the first time.

"Today's his first day, and I was upset about it," Pensinger said, sitting outside the newly opened Fayetteville Elementary School with 5-year-old Jason and her other son, 18-month-old Jacob.

"He's fine with it," said the stay-at-home mom. "It was a big reality check for me."

Jason Pensinger did appear perfectly fine after his first day in kindergarten, munching on a small bag of chips. Perhaps predictably, he said he enjoyed recess.

Thousands of children in Franklin County shouldered their backpacks Monday, bidding farewell to summer and nervously or happily headed back to class.


"I think the children really adjusted well for the first day," said Carol Stewart, a learning support teacher at Fayetteville. "I didn't see any tears at the end of the day."

"Right now, I'm giving a sigh of relief," Principal Barbara Wolf said at the end of a hectic first day on the job. "We're trying to see how we can make it run smoother."

There were a few glitches and things to finish. Chambersburg Area School District Superintendent Joseph Padasak said there was "a bit of a traffic jam" with the school buses at Fayetteville.

"I actually did traffic control this morning," said Kevin Weller, the district's construction projects manager. There were some "phone issues," a few doors that did not close properly and computers still being hooked up, he said.

Elsewhere in the district, Chambersburg seniors who attend the Franklin County Career and Technology Center are going all-day, all-year for the first time, something that sophomores and juniors did in 2006-07.

The district, with approximately 8,500 students, is also breaking in a lot of new faculty, Padasak said.

"We have 234 nontenured teachers out of just under 600," Padasak said of the number of teachers who have fewer than three years with the district.


In the Greencastle-Antrim School District, it has been administrative musical chairs, according to C. Gregory Hoover, the former director of Elementary Education and now acting superintendent following the retirement of P. Duff Rearick.

Three of the four buildings have new principals with Ed Rife at the high school, Mark Herman at the middle school and Angela Singer at the primary school, the exception being elementary principal Chad Stover, Hoover said.

"We have a lot of new faces administratively and in the teaching staff," said Hoover. The district's student population, he said, is "bordering on 3,000."

Hoover's big concern as the end of the day approached was making sure everyone got on the right bus. In the morning, young students get off the bus and walk in the door.

At the end of the day, Hoover said, "there's 10 buses waiting for them and we paint them all the same color."

Back at Fayetteville, Wolf's staff was dealing with the one girl out of nearly 600 students who did not have a bus assignment. The girl did not appear bothered by the mix-up.


"There were a few children who got on the wrong buses, but they're all at home or day care and accounted for," said Tuscarora Superintendent Rebecca Erb.

Erb said the first day of school went smoothly, with few glitches. She expects the point of sale system in the cafeteria will take a few days to function effectively.

Erb visited the Mercersburg, Pa., district schools and enjoyed an exchange with one excited boy at Mountain View Elementary School.

"He said, 'We have homework!'" Erb said.

The boy and his classmates were thrilled to make flash cards, Erb said.

Waynesboro Area

The school year's beginning in Waynesboro Area School District went well, according to Assistant Superintendent Gloria Walker, who visited every school.

Construction continued at Waynesboro Area Senior High School, which is in the midst of a $46 million renovation and expansion project.

Staff writer Jennifer Fitch contributed to this story.

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