Back to school

Students get ready `to turn off summer mode'

Orientation, welcome sessions help prep for first day of class

August 26, 2007|By Arin Gencer | Arin Gencer,Sun Reporter

With excitement or mere resignation, Carroll County students - and their parents - have been gearing up for the 2007-2008 school year, which starts tomorrow.

During this past week, and in weeks to come, the school system's elementary, middle and high schools opened their doors and welcomed the familiar sounds of footsteps, shouts and ceaseless chatter into their halls.

Students bought school-themed clothing, picked up schedules and planners and learned their new routines for the next several months.

But the orientation and welcome sessions are also intended to ease those first-day jitters, particularly for newcomers at each level.

"It's just that last piece before the start," said Jeff Alisauckas, principal of East Middle School.

For sixth-graders coming to his school, he added, the orientation helps "to ease any anxiety they have so that when they wake up Monday morning ... they're ready to go."

About 28,500 students and 2,300 teachers are expected to resume their places in classrooms countywide tomorrow, school officials said.

For some parents, the start of school brings joy; for others, anxiety.

And while students look to summer's end with dread, several said they were ready for the year ahead.

Those mixed feelings were evident at Century High last week, as Principal Drew Cockley addressed freshmen and their families in the school's auditorium.

"I want to welcome you ... . I can tell that everybody is just ready to go," Cockley said. "School is starting Monday."

He received a smattering of applause in response to the last statement.

"OK, that was more parents," Cockley said, as laughter filled the room.

"I'm so ready," said Janice Magee, one of the clapping parents. "Mom is the happiest person."

Magee's daughters, Lauren and Jillian, will attend Century; Lauren as a senior, and Jillian as a freshman.

"I'm kind of excited to be back," said Lauren Magee, 17, who was one of the many upperclassmen who was a tour guide for the new arrivals.

Jillian, 14, shared that sentiment, and said she looked forward to having more independence as a high-school student.

"I'm excited and nervous at the same time," she said.

Nervous excitement was palpable at East Middle, too, where the parking lot overflowed with sixth-graders and their families attending the school's new student orientation, and forced many to search for spots on nearby patches of grass or other lots.

"School is an awfully quiet place during the summer, and this building isn't designed to be quiet," Alisauckas said, by way of introduction, to the large group inside the gym Wednesday night. "I really look forward to Monday morning."

Alisauckas, teachers and staff members spent the evening explaining the schedule for the school year and describing available intervention programs and the reward system for good behavior, among other things.

While Jared Sharp, 11, said he looks forward to having more "special" classes, such as band. He also expects more homework. "That's what happens when you get older," said Jared, who was accompanied by his parents and siblings Alex, a fourth-grader, and Geena, 6, who will go to Charles Carroll Elementary School.

Even though Jared looked to tomorrow with anticipation, his parents expressed a little apprehension as they walked through the halls that are expected to fill with about 720 students this week- especially when they recalled the "close-knit" community at Charles Carroll.

"It feels like home," Valerie Sharp said of the elementary school, as her family made its way to a sixth-grade team meeting on the middle school's lower floor.

At Century, Cockley warned his students about how swiftly time will pass for them, too.

"Four years is going to go very quickly. You're going to make a lot of plans," Cockley said. "Today is the day to get started. Start to turn off summer mode, and get ready for school."

Ready or not, the first day has come.

arin.gencer@baltsun.com

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