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Johnson City administrators deem first day of school a success

Rex Barber and Nathan Baker • Aug 6, 2013 at 7:07 AM

Monday was a day of firsts in Johnson City, as thousands of students returned to school for the first day of the 2013-14 academic year.

Sharon Pickering, principal of North Side Elementary School, always enjoys seeing the enthusiasm of Kindergarteners each new school year.

“They’re just so excited,” Pickering said right before school dismissed Monday morning. “Everything’s new to them, and the backpacks are bigger than they are usually. They’re either running in wanting to start, stay all day or they’re hung on to their mom and daddy’s leg not sure what’s going on.

“That new enthusiasm for learning is always contagious around the school building, so we love it with our Kindergarteners.”

Older students were excited to show Pickering everything new they had for the school year and to see how things would shape up for the 2013-14 school year.

“The kids had their new backpacks, showing me their new shoes and their new outfits and they’re excited to find out their new teachers and what they’re going to be doing.”

Preliminary figures show enrollment at the 11 schools in the district was virtually unchanged from last year.

Director of Attendance Cindy Lawson said first-day enrollment this year was 7,691 students, only a slight uptick from last year’s 7,673.

Districtwide attendance for the abbreviated day was 7,259, Lawson said, compared to 7,168 children on the first day last year.

Director of Secondary and Student Services Janie Snyder said those enrollment figures altered capacity percentages slightly at a few city schools.

“At Cherokee and Town Acres Elementary schools, where we took on some tuition students this year, we’re a little closer to capacity,” Snyder said, noting that the numbers were very preliminary. “Others have pretty much remained the same from last year.”

Indian Trail Intermediate School opened eight new classrooms this year, dropping the percentage of capacity from near 100 to approximately 86 percent, Snyder said.

As far as principal Pickering’s job is concerned, she was busy making sure everything was going smoothly the first day, that each student knew where they were supposed to go, the classrooms were ready and that everyone was comfortable.

“So far though everything’s been really calm and we’re all happy,” she said.

On the first day it’s all about procedures. For instance, everyone must know where their desks are, when it is time for reading, when it is time for math, when lunch is served — all the important things required for successful study.

“But they’re really getting to know each other — the teacher, the student — and everybody’s really quiet and happy. It’s a great day.”

Lawson said the day was a success.

“It sounds like everything went smoothly,” Lawson said. “We had a few first-day glitches, but that’s to be expected. Overall it was an excellent first day.”

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