Jackeline Luna, center, waves to Scarlet Davenport, far right,… (Jed Kirschbaum, Baltimore…)
Anne Arundel County began the local school year Monday, with students and parents sharing some excitement — and a bit of nervousness.
The county's first- through fifth-, sixth- and ninth-grade students marked the opening wave of what county school officials say is a record enrollment: more than 75,500. Most of Anne Arundel's remaining students will return Tuesday , including those at more than a dozen campuses that had delayed starts because of construction.
"I'm looking to do better in school than I did last year," said Tyrek Thornton of Glen Burnie, who is entering the sixth grade at Corkran Middle School in Glen Burnie.
For parents, the first day at Corkran meant walking alongside their children, who are making the jump from elementary to middle school.
"I'm excited about him going into middle school," said Pamela Thornton about her son, Tyrek. "And I'm preparing him for the things that could happen and the things that he could be focused on and doing."
The Anne Arundel students returned ahead of many of their local counterparts. Schools in Baltimore City and in Carroll, Harford, Howard and Baltimore counties open next week.
Superintendent Kevin Maxwell said that for many students, particularly middle-schoolers like those at Corkran, the year presents opportunities to learn inside and outside the classroom.
"Kids learn other things as well," he said. "Their social skills improve, and they start having the opportunities, in middle school and in high school, to participate in more organizations. It's a big growth opportunity for them."
There were some students present who were not going to Corkran.
Melissa Hutchins of Glen Burnie dropped off daughter Audrey, a sixth-grader who catches the bus to McArthur Middle School. A magnet school, MacArthur is among several county schools offering the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program, which provides classroom instruction from a global perspective.
Hutchins' younger daughter, Melody, is entering first grade at Jacobsville Elementary in Pasadena.
Hutchins said that first days of school are familiar when one's children attend the same school. "When they switch grade levels from an elementary to a middle school, then you get nervous again."
Both of her daughters said they had an eventful summer vacation, with Audrey adding that she didn't think about the coming school year until earlier this summer, "ever since I was told I was going to wear a uniform." MacArthur is one of nearly two dozen Anne Arundel public schools where students wear uniforms.
The newcomers at Corkran expressed their flair for fashion with everything from colorful T-shirts to NFL player jerseys. They comprise about a third of a school that has more than 600 students. Shortly after entering school, they attended an assembly — which included the Pledge of Allegiance — that was led by the new principal, Jolyn Davis.
Then they headed off to their classrooms, with a few students needing directions along the way. Davis and Maxwell applauded the help of about three dozen eighth-grade students who helped newcomers navigate their way through the school.
"The goal of today is that sixth-graders feel acclimated to the building, they feel comfortable, they know where they're going and they know what to expect," said Davis. "It's real low-key; there are only about 200 kids here today. They're able to have that interaction with more adults."
Opening day for local districts (may not include all students)
Baltimore: Aug. 30
Baltimore County: Aug. 30
Carroll County: Aug. 31
Harford County: Aug. 30
Howard County: Aug. 30