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Gloom out of place on first day of school

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:08 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

Whipping rain and dark clouds failed to stop thousands of Columbia children from attending the first day of school Monday.

While official numbers won’t be available until late next month, unofficial statistics from the Columbia Public Schools show that 16,404 children attended school the first day, which is 193 more than last year.

New friends at West Boulevard Elementary

The syncopated squeaking stalled as children neared the front door.

Hypnotized by the view of relentless rain, students dragged their drenched shoes along the hallway floor and resigned themselves to reality: No outdoor recess today.

On the first day of school at West Boulevard Elementary, the weather was not ideal. But starting Monday, additions to the school’s curriculum were supposed to be model.

In April, West Boulevard Elementary was pegged to restructure itself as a model school for the district. As a model, the school will extend both its hours and school year for faculty to give students an increased opportunity to learn, said Principal Vickie Robb.

Despite the changes, students might not be able to tell the differences in the curriculum immediately, Robb said.

All changes weren’t in place on the first day, school officials said. They will be put in place over the next few months.

Fourth-grader Aliyah Holmes said her first day of school went as expected. She played games in class, learned how to be quiet in the hallway and made nine new friends.

Hunched over a school lunch of pepperoni pizza, green beans and fat-free chocolate milk, the 9-year-old Holmes pointed to her pink and grey tennis shoes. She said she was geared up to hit the playground on her first day of school.

“You aren’t playing outside,” fellow fourth-grader Mercedes Houston said, referring to the rainy day. “Trust me, you’re not playing outside.”

— Jenny Lim

Alexis begins her first day

Parents with cameras and students with brightly colored folders and book bags waited outside U.S. Grant Elementary before the first day of school began. Some students awaited their first day in a new environment. Heather Mejias arrived early to take pictures of her daughters. Her daughter Alexis began her first day of kindergarten.

“She is my youngest, so it’s making me kind of sad, but I am excited for her,” Mejias said. Alexis’s older sister Domynique is in first grade.

“I am going to learn what my sister learned,” Alexis said. Both girls said they were excited for school to start. They had prepared by painting their nails light blue and sparkled pink.

Returning students were also anticipating the first day. Jackson Bartholow entered second grade at Eugene Field Elementary. He said he plans to work hard this year, study math and learn a lot. His mother, Amy Brotherton, helped him carry in school supplies on his first day.

She said he is happy to be returning to school. “He likes school; he really likes reading and writing,” Brotherton said.

— Emily Peurrung

Growing from student to teacher

New students began school Monday, as well as new teachers. Michelle Wahl will be a this year at Blue Ridge Elementary. Wahl is a senior majoring in elementary education at MU.

“I am excited to be in the classroom instead of taking classes about being in the classroom,” she said.

First semester, Wahl will begin in a kindergarten classroom, and observe up through fifth grade. She will spend three days observing, one day substitute teaching and one day taking classes at MU.

Second semester, she will pick a classroom and spend most of her time teaching. Wahl will manage the classroom as well as plan lessons and write tests.

In the past, Wahl has done field observations at many elementary schools in Columbia, but she said she is excited to begin student teaching.

“It is a whole different thing going from field experience to actually teaching in the classroom,” she said.

— Emily Peurrung

Sophomore’s typical day

As rain fell on Columbia on Monday morning, students at Hickman High School began their first day of the school year.

Many of the sophomores had mixed emotions. Although they were glad to no longer be in junior high, they were a bit apprehensive about their first day at their new school.

Sophomore Megan Jones found her first day at Hickman to be typical.

“It’s just a different school, with different kinds of people,” she said.

Sophomore Amanda Sims said her first day at Hickman was “not as bad as I thought.” She said the biggest difference from junior high was that the hallways were more crowded, which she thinks was due to students’ confusion in trying to find their classes.

William Shim said he liked his first day but thought it was boring. He thinks he will enjoy the longer classes at Hickman because they will be more intense and will allow more time for discussion.

Senior Joseph Tumulty took his first day of school in stride. He said that although his first day was “kind of mixed up” because he had to meet with his counselor to work out some schedule problems, he was amused by the new students constantly asking for help in finding their classes.

— Jenny Beausang

Sophomore’s wishes

Hickman students are looking forward to a variety of things this upcoming school year.

Schim hopes to be able to drive to school this year and is excited about playing for the Kewpies football team as a running back. He thinks the team is going to have a good year.

Sims is looking forward to her acting and theater class. One of the first plays the students will be doing is “Hamlet.”

Tumulty is excited to be a senior and is looking forward to his senior prom.

— Jenny Beausang


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