Summer vacation finally ends for Hereford Middle School students

September 22, 1994|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Sun Staff Writer

Two full turns of the dial to the right. One full turn to the left. And another right turn. Holding her breath, Caroline Ameringer, 11, lifted the locker handle.

It was the sixth try and the door still wasn't budging for the Hereford Middle School sixth-grader, who released a frustrated sigh. She was finding out the hardest part about the first day of middle school was getting her locker open.

Shouts of glee amid a few groans were heard from 840 students yesterday as they started the first day of school at Hereford Middle School.

Other Baltimore County schools started Sept. 8, but Hereford Middle students enjoyed an extended vacation after delays in building improvements postponed the opening for almost two weeks.

"I'm so glad it started, because now I get to meet friends and have fun," said Caroline, who opened her locker on the seventh try. "It was getting really boring at home."

And even better, students will not have to make up the missed days.

Students weren't the only ones excited. Included were parents like Peggy Shemonski, who was "ecstatic" to see her two boys go back.

"I was excited to see that they were so happy to go," said Ms. She monski, president of the school PTA. "When you live in a rural area like northern Baltimore County, the kids are usually spread out so they don't get to see their friends often."

After two extra weeks of planning during the delay, teacher Helen Chenoweth was eager to get started.

"I think [students] are more eager to be here than they normally would because they've been out for so long," said Ms. Chenoweth, a physical education and health instructor.

Principal Judith Scheper welcomed students over the building's speaker system: "We were beginning to wonder if we were ever going to see you again."

"The staff is very relieved and excited that we're back," Ms. Scheper said after the announcements. "We have a very experienced staff here, and they've been using those days off to coordinate plans to get their students back on track."

Lance Woodward, an English and language arts teacher, wasted no time getting his sixth-graders through an orientation.

"I wish it had started on time, but it really gave me a chance to get organized a little better," said Mr. Woodward, who took his students on a tour of the building.

The school's late opening had its genesis in the bad winter.

"Those ice and snow storms really threw a wrench in the plans," Ms. Scheper said. "Things do not always go smoothly with construction, but we wanted to make sure our school was safe and passed inspection before our children came back.

"If we couldn't open, we had a plan where our students would be taken to Hereford High School. Oh my golly, you just don't know how glad we were that that didn't happen. There's enough anxiety about starting middle school for the first time."

Students went through their classes seemingly oblivious to the activity outside as construction crews worked on an addition that when finished in March will increase the school's capacity to 1,100 students.

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