Teachers, principals take charge; first day goes smoothly

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, August 11, 2009

VIDALIA — It was a scene that played out in ways that were different but ultimately the same all across Concordia Parish — the first day of school.

Ridgecrest School’s first through third graders sat waiting at cafeteria tables, their parents lining the walls around the cafeteria, excited, nervous tension filling the room.

In the main hall, the fifth through eighth graders stood leaning against the wall, sitting on the floor, acting cool and pretending not to care to be there.

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When Principal Nancy Anders called everyone into the cafeteria to start the school year, she had to interrupt herself briefly to direct students to seats.

Finally, everyone was seated or standing in their appropriate place.

“So, did everybody have a good summer?” Anders asked.

And with that, the sorting began. First the first grade, then the second, and so-on made their way out of the school’s multi-purpose room and to their classrooms.

In Joanna Bernard’s first-grade classroom, the 11 children who made it were the youngest students in the school.

Because Ridgecrest starts with the first grade, the students were all already veterans of the school system, having gone to kindergarten in Ferriday and elsewhere.

“I was kind of nervous that I was going to be at a new school,” 6-year-old Geronimo Mills said.

Sitting across the table from Geronimo was his opposite in the form of 6-year-old James Pretty, whose energy and extroversion could hardly be restrained by a mere school desk.

“I think I am going to like coming here and learning, and coming here and behaving, cause I don’t want to get in trouble, ‘cause that’s bad,” Pretty said.

Across the room at another table, 6-year-old Savanna Anders was also soaking in her new environment.

“I am excited because my brother is here (at Ridgecrest),” she said.

And Savanna Anders’ new classmate Erica French, also 6, said she had been excited long before Monday.

“I run my mama nuts ‘cause I was ready to come to this school,” French said.

The system experienced a few hiccups, but on the whole the first day of school went very well parish-wide, Superintendent Loretta Blankenstein said.

One of those hiccups included allowing a special dispensation for several students to enroll in classes even though they didn’t have all of the shots mandated by the state.

“There were some new vaccines mandated this year, and Friday we got a call from the health department that they had run out of (the vaccines), so we went ahead and got permission for those students to start,” Blankenstein said.

The school district also had a few students whose parents didn’t know they had to register and meet the district’s residency requirements, Blankenstein said.

Without the proper proof of residency, the students couldn’t be placed in a class because of the desegregation order the U.S. Justice Department has placed over the school district.

“We had supervisors out at the schools, and they didn’t come back with reports of any problems happening,” Blankenstein said.

“We saw a few parents at the school board office about that later, but the good thing was today (the students) were able to leave at 12:30 p.m., so even though they were not present at school today, hopefully they were able to get what then need lined up and will be in class tomorrow.”

School also began for students Trinity Episcopal Day School, Adams County Christian School and Huntington School Monday.