Parish students start school year

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; Vidalia High&8217;s students know their principal isn&8217;t a smiling man. But right around 6 a.m. Wednesday morning he had to have been fighting at least a little grin.

Three weeks ago, Rick Brown&8217;s school was a disaster zone. Construction had the front hall torn apart, the power off and the phones down.

But contractors kept their promises, completed the job and rolled out.

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All that was lacking Wednesday morning were the desks in one renovated classroom. But they came just in time &8212; about an hour and a half before the first students began arriving.

&8220;You wouldn&8217;t have ever known it was like it was three weeks ago,&8221; Brown said of the school Wednesday. &8220;It was ready to go when the kids walked in. We knew it was going to be tight, and it was. The janitors worked late into the night and into the weekend. It surprised the devil out of me.&8221;

With floors waxed and new rooms complete, the first day of school at VHS went smoothly, Brown said. The news was the same across the district.

&8220;We had a great first day,&8221; Superintendent Kerry Laster said. &8220;There were a few little snafus, but that&8217;s the first day.&8221;

Vidalia Lower has a few crowded classes, Laster said, and the VHS ninth-grade class is about 50 students larger than last year&8217;s, Brown said.

Class size is something administrators will watch for the next two weeks, the superintendent said.

If needed, they&8217;ll make changes.

&8220;We have to wait and let the numbers level out,&8221; Laster said. &8220;If numbers are up, any place that we are over we&8217;ll do some shifting.&8221;

First the district will see if some schools have smaller enrollments and can afford to lose a teacher. If that doesn&8217;t work, the district can use some specialized money to hire class-size reduction teachers.

The state maximum for a kindergarten through third-grade class is 26. Fourth-grade on up can have up to 33.

Vidalia Upper Elementary fifth-grade teacher Tanya Anderson said her math classes were a little crowded, but other than that the day went smoothly.

&8220;I think (teachers) get as excited as the kids do,&8221; she said. &8220;It&8217;s just not knowing what to expect.&8221;

Anderson is teaching her son William this year, something he predicted is going to be &8220;perfect.&8221;

At Vidalia Lower Lois Dawson had 24 first-graders, but they seem to be a good group, she said.

&8220;There were lots of hugs and kisses and lots of relieved moms that school has started,&8221; Dawson said.

The first day of school was a half-day focused mainly on rules, teachers said. But the real work starts today.