Originally created 08/15/98

School's back in session



The moods of Richmond County students ranged Friday from those who lost sleep in nervous anticipation for the first day of classes to those who dreaded the end of summer break.

Some students were excited to see their favorite teachers, while others were disappointed that their favorites didn't return.

Some parents couldn't wait to get the children out of the house, while some wanted the summer break to last a little longer.

At A. Dorothy Hains Elementary School several students ran from their parents toward the open school doors.

"I was ready to come," 4-year-old Chad Hewitt said, pointing out the new sneakers he picked out for the special occasion. "I want to stay in school to learn."

His grandmother Kathryn Sousa smiled approvingly.

"He was at my house at 7:30 this morning saying it's time to go," Mrs. Sousa said.

Amanda Web-Braddy, a fifth-grader at Hains, recognized most of the names posted on her homeroom teacher's door. Still, she'd rather have been home.

"School is boring," she said, holding onto the pink backpack that matched her shorts outfit.

Her mother, Melissa Braddy, said she enjoyed having her two children home for the summer.

"I work second shift and don't get to see them much except during the summer," Ms. Braddy said.

A broken leg dampened the spirits of 10-year-old Jeremy Fryer, a Hains fifth-grader

"I was ready to come back to school until I broke my leg Wednesday after jumping on a trampoline," Jeremy said. "I won't be able to take P.E. or have recess but I can do just about everything else."

Jeremy also was disappointed that one of his favorite teachers retired, but he said he will make the best of this school year.

"I plan on having a good time this year like I did last year," he said. "I had fun last year because Ms. Wade and Ms. Davis made learning fun."

Outside of Hains, Esmond Jones, a teacher's assistant, had worked up a sweat before 9 a.m. He was directing traffic.

"It's a madhouse," he said as buses pulled up to the front of the school and parents stopped to ask him questions. "Well, not truly a madhouse. I'm just trying to make sure no one gets hurt in the excitement and confusion of the first day."

Not far from Hains, parents at Spirit Creek Middle School had a bone to pick with the school's transportation department.

Bus drivers missed a group of children in a new subdivision on Brookstone Road.

The mishap made Faye Holmes glad she took the day off.

"You just never know what will happen on the first day," Mrs. Holmes said after getting out of a packed car that carried her daughter, nieces and neighbors.

Mrs. Holmes and her family just moved to Walton Hills subdivision. She said about 20 other children also had to be brought to school.

The missed bus was added pressure to Mrs. Holmes' bunch. Spirit Creek was a new school for the four students.

"They have nervous stomachs," Mrs. Holmes said of the three sixth-graders and seventh-grader.

"I'm nervous because of the bigger kids," said 11-year-old Claireesa Gamble, Mrs. Holmes' daughter.

"I don't know my way around," 11-year-old Juan Leach added.

The nervous bug went beyond middle school as some "bigger kids" admitted the first day was intimidating.

"I have to make new friends, I don't know my teachers or where my classes are," said Elaine Thompson, a freshman at A.R. Johnson High School. "But I was ready to come back, summer was boring."

Students who weren't so bored this summer decided to start their school day Monday. School officials aren't sure yet how attendance was affected by starting classes on a Friday, but some principals saw a difference.

"Attendance seemed a little low for the first day but we had enough to have school today," said Ronnie Harrison, principal of Spirit Creek. "Things are going great. The students seemed eager, excited and ready to come back."

Dr. Charles Larke, superintendent of Richmond County schools, said the first day ran smoothly and he expects to have an attendance count Monday afternoon.

Cartina Harris, guardian for her brother, Di'Angelo Garrett, a ninth-grader at T.W. Josey High School, wished school had started earlier in the week.

"I wish they could go all year round," Ms. Harris said. "Now that school is back in, he's got homework and no time to get in trouble. I love this day."

At Forest Hills Elementary school 400 of the expected 485 students showed up. This is the first year Forest Hills and Lake Forest Elementary schools operated as a joint school.

In addition to the added group of students, Forest Hills Principal Ruth Ann Vericella said the school had about five sets of twins.

"Elementary school is the best place to be," Mrs. Vericella said. "The kids run up and hug you because they haven't seen you all summer. You get your hugs and kisses every day."

Eight-year-old Alysa Hugine, a third-grader at Forest Hills, had a hug reserved for her favorite teacher -- DeRee Smith.

Alysa wrote Mrs. Vericella a note last year to make sure she was in Mrs. Smith's class.

She wasn't disappointed. Mrs. Smith called Alysa on Thursday to tell her she was in her classroom.

"When I heard her on the phone I was so excited that I didn't fall asleep until midnight," Alysa said. "We have lots of fun in her class."



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