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Students adjust to new school, new faces

NATCHEZ — The first day of seventh grade is a breeze before the bell.

Jakerria Rogers, Jounetta McCoy and Sabrina Anderson sat around a cafeteria table at Robert Lewis Middle School Thursday morning eating Cocoa Puffs, commenting on each other’s accessories and feeling giddy about the first day of school.

The public schools and Cathedral School started school Thursday.

“When I got up I was so excited. My brother wouldn’t even sleep,” Anderson said.

“It’s just a bigger and better school,” Rogers said.

Rogers pulled out her schedule and read “world history” as her first-period class.

“What is that?” Anderson asked.

“It’s kinda like social studies,” McCoy said.

The three girls were close friends at Morgantown Elementary.

But when the 8:10 a.m. bell rang and a voice said, “You will be tardy when the next bell rings at 8:15,” the reunion was over.

All three girls looked anxiously at the P.A. system.

“I’ll be nervous when (my friends) leave me,” Anderson said.

But a minute later, the three friends braved the halls alone and surrendered themselves to a brand new teacher and room of less familiar faces.

Seventh grade language arts teacher Berthenia Rose Jackson welcomed her class.

“The first thing we’re going to do is see if everyone belongs here.”

Jackson promised her students she would never mispronounce any name she called out wrong after the first roll call. She said she has a hard name, too, so she understands.

After calling roll to a class much quieter than those in the hall a few moments ago, Jackson asked her class if they were “happy to be here.”

“I’m happy to be alive,” one student said.

“Well that’s a good start,” Jackson said.

Robert Lewis Middle School Principal Sekufele M. Lewanika said the first day of school went more smooth than usual.

He said the Day in the District and two orientations helped cut down on the paperwork confusion that often gets in the way of the first day.

“Nervousness is a normal thing (on the first day),” Lewanika said.

Lewanika said teachers usually spend the first day getting to know the class and going over rules.

“There’s some excitement (on the first day). Hopefully, we’ll keep it going,” Lewanika said.

Cathedral Elementary School Principal Shannon Bland said the first day went well.

Students enjoyed seeing the classrooms that their teachers decorated for the year’s theme — “Around the World.” Each classroom was decorated for a different country.

One of the classroom destinations included a picture of The White House, and Bland said a 4 year old asked if it was where Santa lived.

Bland said decorating the classrooms is a good way to teach students about the world in their own environment.

Despite the arrival of rain showers at dismissal time, the McLaurin Elementary School carpool went over like a successful military mission.

Principal Alice Morrison said the carpool system deploys with three “convoys” that include 37 busses in addition to the “riders” who are picked up by car.

Fourth grade Jada Richardson sat on the floor waiting for the first convoy to arrive to take her home.

She said she liked the first day of fourth grade, but it is not much different from third.

“It’s really not much difference, you just learn bigger stuff.”

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