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Enrollment up again as students flock to first day of classes

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Columbia Public Schools welcomed students back for their first day of classes Thursday.

“There were lots of smiling, happy faces and people happy to be back,” district spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said. “We’ve got new faces and seasoned faces, and so it was just a really good start.”

Official enrollment numbers will not be unavailable until late September, Baumstark said, but first-day enrollment was 19,288. That's up 228 students, or about 1.2%, from a year ago.

Baumstark said she anticipated enrollment would be higher compared to previous years, especially in the southern part of the district where there has been an increase in new neighborhoods.

The district is taking several steps to accommodate its growing population. Cedar Ridge Elementary School opened in fall 2018, and will host students from Locust Street Expressive Arts Elementary for the 2019-20 school year, while the Locust Street building undergoes renovations.

Construction has also begun on a new middle school on Sinclair Road, and there are plans to add on to Rock Bridge Elementary in the coming months.

Along with the new additions, the district will have two anniversaries this year. Mill Creek Elementary will celebrate its 30th anniversary and Gentry Middle School will celebrate its 25th.

The district, which is one of the largest in Missouri, includes an early childhood development center, 21 elementary schools, six middle schools, four high schools and a technical school. The district did not experience any major issues during the first day, Baumstark said.

Meanwhile, the Missourian sent reporters to several schools to talk with children on the first day of classes. Here were there answers to some of the reporters' questions:

What are you most looking forward to learning about?

Zora Schatz-Mitchell, 7, Grant Elementary School, second grade

Zora Schatz-Mitchell, 7, Grant Elementary School, second grade

“Science, because if you mix M&Ms with water, the M&Ms become white.”

Tommy Schweikert, 6, Cedar Ridge Elementary School, first grade

Tommy Schweikert, 6, Cedar Ridge Elementary School, first grade

“I want to learn what’s 17+84.”

Cameron Purdiman, 5, Cedar Ridge Elementary School, kindergarten

Cameron Purdiman, 5, Cedar Ridge Elementary School, kindergarten

“I want to write colors.”

Brandon Western, 8, Blue Ridge Elementary School, second grade

Brandon Western, 8, Blue Ridge Elementary School, second grade

Brandon is most excited to read and learn about “other cool stuff” this year. He thinks second grade might be hard. This summer he got teeth surgery and his tonsils removed, which meant he got to eat a lot of ice cream.

Peyton Boyer, 8, Ridgeway Elementary School, second grade

Peyton Boyer, 8, Ridgeway Elementary School, second grade

“I have no idea! My favorite subject is probably P.E. and art."

William Boukari, 6, Ridgeway Elementary School, first grade

William Boukari, 6, Ridgeway Elementary School, first grade

“I want to play with my friends and learn math.”

Kaydence Townsend, 8, Benton STEM Elementary School, third grade

Kaydence Townsend, 8, Benton STEM Elementary School, third grade

"Dinosaurs."

Younique Townsend, 11, Benton STEM Elementary School, fifth grade

Younique Townsend, 11, Benton STEM Elementary School, fifth grade

"Cursive writing."

Amia Ming, 10, Blue Ridge Elementary School, fifth grade

Amia Ming, 10, Blue Ridge Elementary School, fifth grade

Her favorite subject in school is science, and she is most excited to learn about renewable energy resources this year. The coolest thing she did this summer was go roller skating with her uncle in Arizona.

 

What do you think school will be like?

Brady Hardesty, 6, Ridgeway Elementary School, first grade

Brady Hardesty, 6, Ridgeway Elementary School, first grade “I expected to have fun today and make new friends.”

Shenni Byrne, 8, Grant Elementary School, third grade

Shenni Byrne, 8, Grant Elementary School, third grade

Shenni Byrne, 8, Grant Elementary School, third grade “Fun, but I wish my friend was in my class.”

Hayden Goebel, 8, Grant Elementary School, second grade

Hayden Goebel, 8, Grant Elementary School, second grade

“Boring, because I don’t like school.”

Nola Hayes, 6, Grant Elementary School, first grade

Nola Hayes, 6, Grant Elementary School, first grade

“I think it’s gonna be fun because almost all my friends are here.”

Atlas Porter, 6, Grant Elementary School, first grade

Atlas Porter, 6, Grant Elementary School, first grade

“I don’t really like school. I like to sleep.”

Luna Henggeler, 6, Benton STEM Elementary School, first grade

Luna Henggeler, 6, Benton STEM Elementary School, first grade

"A little same and a little different."

 

What was the most fun thing you did this summer?

Adam Gingrich, 10, Grant Elementary School, fifth grade

Adam Gingrich, 10, Grant Elementary School, fifth grade

Adam Gingrich, 10, Grant Elementary School, fifth grade “I went to Italy. We saw the David and other sculptures.”

Noah Whitacre, 8, Benton STEM Elementary School, third grade

Noah Whitacre, 8, Benton STEM Elementary School, third grade

Q: What was the most fun thing you did this summer?

A: "Probably just staying inside, playing video games, 'cause it was just a scorcher out there."

Aison Jenkins and Aidrey Jenkins

Left: Aison Jenkins, 10, Blue Ridge Elementary School, fifth grade

Right: Aidrey Jenkins, 7, Blue Ridge Elementary School, second grade

Aison is most excited to learn about math this year because it is his favorite subject. The coolest thing he did this summer was spend time with his dad. Aidrey wants to learn how to write stories this year, and the coolest thing she did this summer was go swimming with her Nana.

Kylee Bealmear, 7, Blue Ridge Elementary School, second grade

Kylee Bealmear, 7, Blue Ridge Elementary School, second grade

Her favorite subject in school is math, and she’s excited to learn about multiplication this year. This summer she got take care of her family’s rescue puppies.

Sovryn Byndom, 9, Benton STEM Elementary School, fourth grade

Sovryn Byndom, 9, Benton STEM Elementary School, fourth grade ”My dad came home from Texas.”

Brooklyn Griffith, 9, Cedar Ridge Elementary School, fourth grade

Brooklyn Griffith, 9, Cedar Ridge Elementary School, fourth grade

“Jamaica. We went rafting and we went swimming a lot and stayed at a huge hotel."

Asher Marshman, 11, Cedar Ridge Elementary School, fifth grade

Asher Marshman, 11, Cedar Ridge Elementary School, fifth grade

“Probably get my bearded dragon"

Missourian reporters Ziye Kelsey Tang, Aiman Javed, Gaby Morera-Di Núbila and Helle Andreassen contributed to this story.

  • I am a first year Graduate Student at University of Missouri's School of Journalism. I'm especially interested in news concerning Missouri politics and public policy.

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