Originally created 07/31/05

Staff prepare for pupils' return



When Columbia County children return to classrooms Wednesday, some will be the first pupils in a new school, and some will be the last class of an old school.

Construction workers added finishing touches to the new River Ridge Elementary School last week, readying it for about 525 pupils.

"They've got the grass and the landscaping done," said Karen Ribble, the special projects coordinator for the Columbia County school system. "It's looking more and more like a school. Most all of the furniture is delivered, and the classrooms are set up."

School and political officials will hold a dedication ceremony for the school Tuesday, one hour before its open house at 6 p.m.

"(U.S. Rep.) Charlie Norwood is going to be there," Ms. Ribble said. "He's going to present a flag that has flown on the Capitol building."

Open houses for all of Columbia County's elementary schools will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Middle school open houses will be held Monday from 6 to 8 p.m., and high school opens houses are the same day from 7 to 9 p.m.

On the day of his school's open house, Evans Middle School Principal Michael Johnson plans to take teachers on a school bus tour of the Evans Middle zone and to the site of the new school.

Mr. Johnson said he hopes the tour will intrigue teachers about the prospect of a new building, which is scheduled to open August 2006.

"Our zone is growing by leaps and bounds, and we're busting at the seams," he said. "A lot of my teachers are really excited to get into a new facility."

Some teachers are a little reluctant to say goodbye to the 50-year-old campus, which was purchased for more than $4 million in 2004 by developers planning to create a shopping center, Mr. Johnson said.

"There are some mixed emotions," he said. "Some of the veteran teachers that have been here 20 years are excited about the new school, but they kind of hate to see the old building get torn down."

Reach Donnie Fetter at 868-1222, ext. 113, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

Columbia County School Facts
- The elementary school day is from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Middle school runs from 7:35 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. High school hours are 7:40 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., with the exception of Lakeside High, which starts and ends five minutes later.
- The Columbia County school board has made changes to the attendance and dress code policies. Pupils are allowed only five excused absences in a semester without a doctor's note. After 10 absences in a semester, excused or unexcused, a pupil can be referred to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. The dress code now allows pupils to untuck their shirts, but it bans tattoos and many body piercings. The new policies can be viewed at www.ccboe.net.
- The school board has incorporated bus rules into the student code of conduct that all parents and guardians sign.

Special Section: Back to School

Visit the special Back to School section for everything you need to know about the upcoming school year - including bus routes, school events, menus and a guide to Columbia County Schools.