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First day goes smoothly for East Texas schools

By Angela Ward
Aug. 27, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Kindergartners at J.L. Everhart Elementary School greeted the first day of school with everything from grins to tears as school began in most East Texas districts on Monday.

Gaby Martinez was clinging to the hand of her father, Bernie Martinez, as they walked into the school cafeteria to wait for her teacher, Kori Thompson. Gaby seemed disinclined to share her thoughts on the first day of school.

"She's been really excited about it, but now that she's actually here, I think she's a little overwhelmed," Bernie Martinez said.

Brenna Moore, one of Gaby's classmates, was a little more enthusiastic.

"I'm five and I've got a new backpack and sparkly hair things," Brenna said.

Principal Kim Marshall shared Brenna's enthusiasm.

"Our enrollment is up," Marshall said. "Everybody is so excited and we have such a beautiful campus that I'm sure it's going to be another great year."

This is Marshall's second year as principal of the school. She said enrollment was about 725 when school ended in May and is about 766 now.

Kindergarten teacher Kori Thompson greeted each student with a smile, helped them find their cubbyholes and name tags, then got them settled at tables of four or five with books to look at.

"When you finish your book, you can trade with somebody else at your table," Thompson told her students.

"I love teaching kindergartners," Thompson said. "They're so excited about learning and it's fun to watch the 'light bulb moments' throughout the year as they grasp new concepts."

Overall, the first day of school went smoothy for the entire Longview Independent School District, public information officer Adam Holland said.

John York, principal of Foster Middle School, said things went very smoothly at his school.

"Special thanks to all the parents for helping to make this a great first day of school," York said.

Spring Hill Independent School District and Hallsville Independent School District also began school on Monday, as did East Texas Charter High School. Pine Tree Independent School District begins classes today, while several private and parochial schools within the city began this past week.

The flashing lights on school zone signs throughout the city weren't functioning Monday morning, but the problem should be fixed by today, said Keith Bonds, director of public works for Longview.

"It was a programming problem," Bonds said Monday afternoon. "We're working on it now and expect to have it fixed within the day."

Wes Jones, Superintendent of Spring Hill, said things went extremely well on Monday.

"Traffic flow was good for a first day, even though we had more drop-offs than usual," Jones said. "We still had some that were late registering, but all in all things went well. Our staff did an excellent job preparing parents for the first day. We are still trying to work out some of the split busing schedule with younger students, but I'm sure we can all work it out."

Jones said enrollment seemed to be up in the district, based on pre-registration, but he didn't have exact numbers on Monday.

"There were no surprises or problems," Jones said. "We're off to a good start."

Hallsville ISD had an excellent first day, said Carol Greer, public information officer for the district.

Brandon Jones, principal of Hallsville Junior High School, said the first day of the school's new three-grade format went well.

"Moving to a new building and adding a grade level have been challenges that our team met with excitement," Jones said. "The first day has been a resounding success and we are looking forward to an outstanding school year."

Vickie Echols, public information officer for Pine Tree ISD, wanted to remind parents that if they didn't re-register their children for school during the spring or summer, they need to accompany them to school today.

"We didn't do the automatic re-enrollment this year, because we wanted to clean up our database," Echols said. "Even if students attended Pine Tree schools last year, they may not be enrolled in classes if the parents didn't re-register them over the summer."



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