City schools run well on first day

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Most Cartersville City schools reported no problems Wednesday as students in pre-K through 12th grade headed back to the classroom after their 10-week summer break.

District spokeswoman Vicky Durham said 4,168 students reported to class on the first day of school — 130 for pre-K, 908 for the primary school, 897 for the elementary school, 1,008 for the middle school and 1,225 for the high school.

“As a system, everything went great,” she said.

Kids and Co., the school system’s pre-K program, had an “awesome” first day of school, Site Director Denise Osborn said.

“We have some very mature students who are ready to learn, showing great independent skills at 4 years old,” she said. “We had very few upset students, which is usually expected since, for many, it is their first experience away from their parents. We had a few more tears at nap time because they thought they were staying the night and not getting to go home and a few who would have liked to have slept a little longer.”

Osborn attributes the successful day to the school’s “terrific” open house, “which was new for us,” last Sunday night.

“... We had two scheduled sessions, allowing the parents, teachers and students a calm and relaxing first interaction,” she said. “We are lucky to have an experienced staff of assistant teachers that have been with Kids and Co. pre-K for many years as well as some experienced and well-qualified lead teachers that made this transition as hassle-free as possible.”

As for first-day problems, there was “nothing that we have not encountered before,” Osborn said.

“Traffic is always our biggest obstacle — dropping off and picking up, especially on the first day of school,” she said. “We have outlined some very specific procedures to keep all students safe, not block the flow of traffic on Erwin [Street] and respect the rights of our surrounding businesses. These procedures take about two weeks for parents to fully understand. We will be a well-oiled machine by the end of the month.”

Osborn said the school was at full capacity — 130 students — on its first day of the new year.

New Cartersville Primary Principal Gina Bishop said the school’s first day was “amazing.”

“The students, teachers and staff were extremely excited to begin the 2016-2017 school year, and the parents left happy, knowing that their child was going to have a great day,” she said. “[There were] no problems. Each student arrived safely to their class.”

Bishop attributed the smooth beginning to organization.

“CPS runs like a well-oiled machine,” she said. “The teachers make it happen, and they are always happy to do whatever it takes to make it work. We learn from our mistakes and attempt to make changes so that the first day of school runs smoothly.”

Though she didn’t have the exact number of students enrolled on the first day, “it’s around 908,” Bishop said.

“It is approximately the same as last year,” she said.

For the new school year, the school developed CPS Schoolwide Expectations, Bishop said.

“The students will be rewarded with Canes Cash when they are seen portraying the schoolwide expectation,” she said.

The school also is looking for a new motto.

“While our school goal is ‘to provide a safe and academically challenging learning environment where all students are engaged,’ we are asking the CPS families to help us create a new motto for our school,” Bishop said. “We want our motto to be three words and to stand for C.P.S. The individual family who creates the winning motto will have a plaque made for them, which will be hung in the front hallway.”

Bishop said she also created a CPS Facebook page called Cartersville Primary School @WeAreCPS “so follow us there to stay updated and in the know.”

Next-door, Cartersville Elementary School also had a “fantastic first day,” according to new Principal Melissa White.

“Teachers and staff were well-prepared to greet their students this morning and provide a solid foundation for our new school year,” she said. “Our new third-grade students participated in tours of the school and practiced important procedures to make their transition as easy as possible.”

White added she is “happy to report CES had no problems during the first day of school.”

First-day enrollment for CES was 897 students, according to White.

“This is less than the end of last school year, but we anticipate an increase over the next few days,” she said.

As for what’s new this year, the school has added a staff member that will benefit everyone there.

“Students and teachers at CES are excited to have a new instructional technologist to assist teachers and students with technology in the classroom,” White said. “This correlates well with our school’s focus to increase STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — activities and resources for our students.”

Cartersville High Principal Marc Feuerbach — the only principal in the system to not change schools — said the Purple Hurricanes had “an awesome first day back.”

“Everything went smoothly,” he said. “Our teachers and staff were ready to help students find classes or assist with schedules, and because of that, it was a great first day. I am extremely pleased and wish every back-to-school day were this easy. We didn’t have any problems.”