First day of school a success

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Moffat County School District administrators are knocking on wood in the hope that the remainder of the school year goes as smoothly as they report the first day did.

An estimated 2,250 students started school today, and by all accounts, traffic congestion was the worst problem faced at schools.

"Staff were organized and ready for the day," Super-intendent Pete Bergmann said. "School was back in session without a hitch."

Craig Intermediate School Principal Don Davidson said there's a learning curve for parents as well as students as he watched the cars lined up on both sides of Ninth Street and overflowing onto some side streets.

Last year, a "kiss and go" zone was created at the school, providing a loop parents could drive to drop off and pick up their students.

Davidson said getting new parents to use the zone is likely just a matter of learning it's available.

Ridgeview Elementary School is implementing a similar program. Principal Julie Baker said several close calls last year prompted the decision to make the east end of the school a drop-off point for cars and allowing only buses to unload at the south side of the school.

Parents were notified of the change today, and Baker hopes that will ease traffic in front of the school as well as make it safer for the students.

Six-year-old Kyla Pogline started kindergarten today, during which she made a butterfly clip and a memory game and decorated a cookie. Today was Family Connection Day for kindergarteners. They spent an hour in their classrooms with their parents in an attempt to ease the transition into school. Tomorrow will be the first full day for kindergarteners.

Pogline is ready. She said she'll be sad to leave her mother, but she's excited to do something she's watched two older siblings do -- go to school.

Craig Middle School took an unusual approach to the first day of school. Instead of following their regular class schedule, seventh- and eighth-grade students followed a special schedule where they learned about the rules and acceptable behavior by watching teachers and paraprofessional actors model them.

According to CMS secretary Beth Gilchrist, teachers learned at a behavioral workshop this summer that students shouldn't be expected to know what was expected of them -- that it should be modeled.

Students toured the school learning what behavior was inappropriate in classrooms, the halls, during lunch and on the school bus.

"It was way nontraditional in relation to what we used to do," she said.

Students were given the opportunity to try their lockers and tour the school Thursday. Gilchrist said two-thirds of the incoming students attended, making the first day a smooth transition.

"All the paperwork and all the jitters were gone," she said. "It's been a really nice day. This might be a fun year. The group coming up seems really positive."

Moffat County High School Principal Jane Krogman also reported no problems on the first day.

"It has been an excellent start," she said.

She said there was the "normal first-day craziness," which includes scheduling changes and a few lost freshmen, but that there were no incidents of hazing reported.

"It was truly one of our best days ever," she said.

High school students will have an advisory period during lunch each day this week to go over school policy and rules. Sophomores will schedule their extension periods.

"It was smooth from everything from food service to transportation," Bergmann said.

Transportation director Jim Baptist said a few students got on the wrong buses but said the problem was quickly sorted out and that otherwise, "so far, so good."

Principals will make their back-to-school reports at Thursday's board of education meeting. Updated enrollment numbers should be available by then, he said.

Students also reported an event-free first day. Fifth-grader LaTana Riley's fears of not being able to get into her locker were groundless, and she said lunch was so crowded that she and a friend had to share a seat.

She was OK with the concession, though. She joined up with a friend from elementary school, whom she was separated from when her friend transferred to a different school.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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