Nearly 33,000 Hall County and Gainesville children reported back to class Monday morning, beginning the 2013-14 school year.
“It has been a very smooth opening,” said Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer. “The students and parents seem relaxed and ready to begin school.”
It was a sentiment agreed upon by school leaders in both systems.
Riverbend Elementary School Principal Debra Smith sat at the front desk at the end of the school day. She said it was one of the best first days she’s experienced as a principal.
But with parents walking their children in for their first day of classes, the new security check-in system in Hall County schools did cause a bit of a backup, at least for Riverbend.
“Every adult that comes in has to scan their ID,” Smith said. “So they were lined up. But the parents were so excited when they found out what the system was.”
Wood’s Mill Academy Principal Daryl White said that most parents walk their children in on the first day.
“I don’t blame them,” he said. “I did the same with mine. So that stalls traffic a little bit.
“By the third day, it’s all getting right around to where it’s going to be,” White added. “By the end of the week, everything’s smooth.”
Also attending the first day were Hall County fire and emergency units, welcoming all elementary school students as they walked into school.
Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said it was all about having a “friendly presence” at the schools as students began their year.
He shared a story about a young student at White Sulphur Elementary who was scared to leave the car and enter the school.
“One of our firefighters walked over and asked the girl if she wanted to get out, and he would walk her to her classroom,” Kimbrell said. The student jumped out of the car with her very own firefighter escort.
“We’ve heard a lot of good compliments,” Kimbrell said. He added that the units plan to make this an annual event.
Most students seem to be excited to be back to their school-year routines, school leaders said.
“It’s a fantastic new group of students,” said Ley
Hathcock, assistant principal with North Hall High School. “They’re really, really impressive.”
Hathcock said he was particularly excited about the school’s addition of the new Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics wing in the building.
Attending class on Monday were 25,767 Hall County students and 7,141 Gainesville City students. It’s expected those numbers will increase over the coming month.
“We don’t think all of them are here,” said LaCrisia Larkin, Gainesville High School principal. “We’re expecting more to show up.
“Our kids came in excited to be back, and we’re excited to have them back,” she added.
Gordon Higgins, director of community relations for Hall County Schools, said the reported county numbers are 3 percent below the projected enrollment.
“This is consistent with years past, which (have) shown a steady increase (of) enrollment for the first month of school,” he said.
The first holiday for students comes in just three weeks, Labor Day on Sept. 2. The last day of school for both systems is set for May 23, 2014.