As the sun rose over Sampson County Monday morning, thousands of eager minds arose from their beds with an eagerness to begin the next chapter in their lives — the first of 180 days in a new school year.
A total of 161 buses began rolling bright and early Monday, making the first of their many routes for the new year.
Buses and bus drivers weren’t the only ones hitting the roads this morning, as Dr. Eric Bracy, superintendent of Sampson County Schools, and Stuart Blount, superintendent of Clinton City Schools, made their way around the different schools within their respective systems to welcome the smiling faces as students returned.
As Bracy was making his way around to the various schools, he said, “things looked great.”
According to Bracy, things were running very smooth Monday morning and off to a very good start. Sampson County Schools services about 8,600 students total, covering four different districts.
Blount made it to all five schools within Clinton City Monday morning, acknowledging in the afternoon that Monday had been a very smooth opening.
“We opened without any incidents. There were no transportation issues, either, making for a good first day. I really appreciate the parents and students helping us to make it such a smooth transition,” Blount said.In every school he visited, the superintendent said, excitement was in the air. “When I walked in I could feel the excitement level was high, and I am hoping that excitement will continue throughout the year. I’m confident it will.”
And school was under way he said, with students listenting intently as educators talked about their expectations for the new year. “I just left each school with a strong feeling that this was going to be a great year.”
Blount attributed the smooth transition to both orientations, held late last week, and a consistency in administrators and staff that allowed for familiarity.
“I was very well pleased with everything I saw today. It’s a great way to start a new school year,” Blount said.
For both systems, the 2014-15 school year seems to have begun without any complications.
According to Vanessa Brown, principal of Butler Avenue School, things went great Monday, as she saw the new second-grade students coming in and the returning third-grade students. Brown was excited to see her numbers grow, and now she is looking at a total of 501 students at her school.
“It was exciting seeing all the new faces,” Brown said.
Brown said the staff at Butler Avenue held assemblies this morning to start things off. For the second-grade students, Brown said the expectations, processes and procedures of the school were given to the students. For the third-grade students, it was a gentle reminder of what was expected in their new school year.
“At this point,” Brown said, “everything is done and calm. We are headed into lunch now and we’ll see how that goes.”
For the second year in a row, Dr. Linda Jewell-Carr, principal at Union Elementary School, said the Million Father March was a huge success.
“It was very encouraging and exciting to see so many dads and moms, entire families, come out to bring their children to school,” Jewell-Carr said.
Enrollment wasn’t any different at Union Elementary. Jewell-Carr said several new students came in Monday morning and enrolled and the enrollment numbers were up.
“It’s been a busy morning,” Jewell-Carr exclaimed. “But we are excited for a new year and that we are continuing to grow.”
Last week, both systems held open houses allowing students to come in and acquaint themselves with new teachers and possibly the surroundings of a new school.
Bracy said these open houses are a big help, allowing families to come in and see what the student’s new year will be like. He added that students can come in and learn what supplies they may need, while at the same time, learn the routines and procedures for their school.
“It’s especially good for students going into a new school or coming into the system for the very first time,” Bracy said. “So, yes, open house is a great idea.”