Students, teachers head back to class with some new changesPublished 11:16pm Tuesday, September 7, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
With their pencils sharpened and their backpacks full, Niles area students kicked off the start to another school year Tuesday.
Classrooms were back to hitting the books at all Niles area schools, including at Ballard Elementary, where vehicles filled the parking lots and even lined the front lawn as the day started.
Lucille Ryman, a parent of two Ballard students this year, talked to the Star shortly after kindergarten orientation concluded. Her youngest son, Nathan, will have his first full day of school Wednesday.
“Everything was fine,” Ryman said. Though she observed a few “communication” issues in regard to buses, she said she didn’t think transportation had anything to do with how the school was operating overall.
Buses were lined up at the back entrance to Ballard in the early morning hours on Tuesday and school officials seemed to be trying to get all students off each bus in accordance to grade as quickly and efficiently as they could.
The increase in traffic could be attributed to the influx of students coming from the now closed Eastside Elementary School combined with many parents who were present for kindergarten orientation, like Ryman.
“Everything went smoothly,” she said. “We did a scavenger hunt to find the library and the gym and the office and the bathrooms … I think at least he has a general idea, even if I’m not there, how to find anything.”
The orientation lasted two hours.
“They were very thorough,” she said.
Ryman’s older son, Zachary, started his first day of third grade Tuesday.
The first day of school can be a hectic one for any parent, to say the least, as many of them get reacquainted with early mornings and afternoon homework.
“It’s confusing,” Ryman said, “but it all works out. And both of my children were very excited to go to school this year, that’s a plus.”
Ryman guessed though things were pretty crowded and busy Tuesday morning, it would eventually even out in the parking lot and in the classroom.
“It’s more crowded but I don’t think it’s going to be that crowded,” she said.
Some of the new things awaiting parents and students this year include all-day, every-other-day kindergarten and modified bus routes.
Ryman said her kids were excited to have the opportunity to ride the bus where they did not before, and the change in kindergarten schedule will make it easier for her work schedule.
“I could never work on a half-day before and still be the primary caregiver for my child,” she said. A nurse, Ryman said she can pick up shifts she couldn’t before and schedule herself around Nathan’s class times.
“We’ve been very happy with Ballard and I hope that everybody that transitions from Eastside or wherever are also very happy,” she said. “And I’m pretty sure they will be. It’s very efficiently ran.”
Over at Brandywine Elementary School, Principal Tim Bagby said the first day is always an “exciting” one.
“Things are going great,” Bagby said, adding enrollment was up at the school and the building is now home to one new teacher due to the increase in size of its fifth grade class.
Also new to Brandywine’s elementary students: a transplant from the district’s Merritt Elementary School, Debbie Carew will now act as a reading specialist for the school. Bagby said school administrators and teachers would be “using data to improve our reading instruction.”
For students, the first day begins with hops on and off the bus, a search for their locker or desk or classroom and a sit down at the bell.
For teachers, the day is just as momentous.
“Most of the time it’s a very exciting time because it’s kind of a fresh start,” Bagby said, adding each year is a “new opportunity” for teachers and students.
“I saw a lot of smiles today,” he said.