Students, staff chalk up first day of school in Eastern Panhandle

  • A Tuscarora Elementary School student pauses before entering class Monday.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer,

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --The first day of public school in the Eastern Panhandle went very well, officials reported Monday evening.

Jefferson County Board of Education President Peter H. Dougherty said enrollment was up about 250 from last year based on first-day attendance.

Official enrollment figures will not be released until October, but Dougherty said the apparent increase is substantial considering the housing market.

"The first day of school went very well," Dougherty said.

That included classes at Sam Michael's Park, where students expected to attend the yet-to-be opened Driswood Elementary School, are being temporarily housed.

The new school is set to open next week.

In Berkeley County, Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II said Monday was "a wonderful opening day."

After speaking with a majority of the school principals, Arvon said everyone was pleased.

Dougherty and Arvon both said no major transportation issues arose on the first day, which is especially critical for kindergarten students who are new to the bus system.


"They just did an outstanding job," Arvon said.

While no new schools opened, school officials did have to adjust to the transfer of about 250 third-graders to Eagle School Intermediate where a wing was added to the building for them. Eagle School now has about 750 students, Arvon said.

The space made available at Tuscarora and Opequon elementary schools by the transfer is being used for pre-kindergarten classes.

Morgan County

The first day of school in Morgan County went well, assistant superintendent Joan Willard said Monday afternoon.

"It went smoothly," she said.

"(Schools' superintendent) Dave Banks and I went to all the schools but Paw Paw (W.Va.) and Pleasant View Elementary," Willard said.

"A lot of work goes into making the first days go smoothly so routines are established," she said.

Warm Spring Middle School has 570 students this year, said Gene Brock, who began his seventh year as school principal.

"It was a good day for us - a very smooth day overall," Brock said.

Brock said he greeted the students Monday morning as they got off their buses, and met with the sixth-grade class first and then the seventh- and eight-graders in the school gym to welcome them and to acclimate them.

Each student was given a copy of the student handbook, Brock said.

Extra care was given to acclimate the 165 sixth-graders that are new students from the intermediate school, and to the roughly 25 new students to Morgan County, he said.

"The new year is exciting for me, the teachers and the students," he said.

Brock monitored the arrival of the buses Monday afternoon, which must be in place before the students who ride those buses are allowed outside.

He said for safety reasons, all the buses must be parked and ready for the kids to board before the students are released from their classrooms.

"Kids feels safe when they know their routine," Willard said.

By the numbers

Students by the thousands returned to classes in West Virginia's three Eastern Panhandle counties. The approximate numbers of students in public schools are growing, according to school officials:

Berkeley County Schools: An increase of 100 to 200 students over last year's total of 17,446

Jefferson County Schools: An increase of more than 130 students over last year's total of 8,595

Morgan County Schools: About the same as last year's 2,600 students

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