First day of school successful for Concordia students

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 4, 2003

&uot;Smooth&uot; was the word Monday in Concordia Parish for the first day of school.

It was if they had rehearsed it, as many teachers, principals and assistant principals described their first day of the 2003-2004 school year the same way.

At Vidalia Lower Elementary, new principal Paul Nelson, a transfer from principal at Vidalia Junior High School, said Monday was more of an orientation day for students.

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Second-grade teacher Una Knapp, of Vidalia Lower, said it was a typical first day of school Monday. The day was filled with a tour of the school, establishing rules and expectations and letting the students know the routines to expect for the year. Knapp said she would continue to drill the expectations &uot;until they know it.&uot;

And one of the biggest helps for such a &uot;smooth&uot; first day of school, Knapp, Nelson and Doris Polk, Vidalia Lower assistant principal agreed, was Parents Day.

With Parents Day held last Friday, many students and parents already met their teachers and some brought school supplies early. Nelson said the 30 teachers at the Vidalia Lower probably averaged about 10 parents each.

&uot;That’s a big help,&uot; Nelson said. &uot;The transition is there.&uot;

Not only did the students have to transition, but Nelson did as well, moving from an environment where the students were independent and few parents would usher students in to a school to a place where many parents helped crowd the halls on the first day.

But as for tears, &uot;I didn’t actually see as many as I thought,&uot; Nelson said. &uot;Now I saw a few moms that were teary-eyed.&uot;

Nelson said he met a few parents Monday and ushered some &uot;little chaps,&uot; as he said his grandmother used to call them, to find their way to classes, as well as popped his head in classes to check on everything.

It was a little different scene Monday at Ferriday High School, where it was a bell resounding through the school, not a teacher, that directed the students when and where to go next.

New Ferriday High School principal Debra Harris, another transplant moving from Ferriday Junior High, spent much of her day on the go. From bus duty in the

morning to peeking in on students at lunch, Harris said her job is all about staying visible.

Many students at Ferriday High School were new to the building, mostly because they were freshmen.

Harris said this freshman class was pretty large, and, of course, some had to be directed where to go Monday.

Parents Day also was help to Harris’ &uot;smooth&uot; day.

Many students knew where to go because they picked up their schedules and met teachers with their parents Friday.

But the day started with an assembly where Harris welcomed the students and congratulated them on their improved test scores.

Then, the students spent about 20 minutes in each of their seven classes, meeting their teachers and getting acquainted with the rules and expectations of each individual class.

English I and fine arts teacher Virginia Robertson said the first day is all about stressing the expectations and procedures in the classroom.

&uot;Once you outline the expectations, you don’t have problems in the school year,&uot; Robertson said.

At the end of the half day, when all of the students were ushered to buses or pick up at Vidalia Lower, they were easily shown the right direction by a new edition to dismissal for this year’s first day &045; stickers on their shirts with their bus name, address, or pick up written on them.

While students went home early, teachers did overtime Monday with grade level meetings and a faculty meeting at Vidalia Lower after the children went home.

Harris planned a faculty meeting Monday afternoon too.

&uot;So how did it go today?&uot; Nelson asked his faculty and staff Monday afternoon. But no one reported any problems.

The staff at Vidalia Lower was getting ready for the school year, going over some housekeeping issues, but there and throughout the rest of the parish, the preparation began for next day, another day at school.