'Best' first day kicks off school year

From left: Chapman Hill, a third grader at South Side Elementary; Lindsey Hill, a senior at West Point High School and Charles David Hill, a fifth grader at Fifth Street School.  
DTL Staff
Staff Writer

West Point's 3,200 students returned to the district's five schools Tuesday in what many educators called the "best first day" in years, despite some significant changes at two buildings.

It went well, very well. Just the usual few problems you have with people getting adjusted.

"But the kids were excited, the teachers were excited, it was a very good opening day," said Schools Superintendent Burnell McDonald.
"It was the best first day of school. Everything was organized and most kids were very prepared at drop off and pick up thanks to the help of parents," echoed Casey Glusencamp. The principal at Church Hill Elementary which is home to first- and second-graders.

Traffic and getting parents and teachers on the same page for pick-up and drop off usually are the biggest headaches the first few days of school.

"There's always a little learning curve with the car-riders and the bus-riders. And that changes some after the first few days or weeks," McDonald said. "It takes a little time."
And the rest of the community needs to pay special attention in school areas.

"People need to remember we have more traffic around schools now that classes are back in. Leave a little extra time or pick another route if traffic is a bother," he noted. "Safety is our biggest concern for everyone. We just ask people to be patient and work with us."

The biggest changes this year came with the closing of historic Central School due to concerns about the safety of its foundation.

With it closed, fifth- and sixth-graders were shifted to Fifth Street School where they joined seventh-graders.
Instead of being at Fifth Street, eighth-graders were moved to the North Campus at West Point High with ninth-graders.

But even those shifts went off with minimal problems, McDonald said.

"You had the usual cases of someone just registering or not sure of a class but other than that, nothing unusual, it went well. Again, the biggest issue is the traffic at the start and end of school. And that will get better," he stated