Students begin new school year

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Al Key/DRC
Borman Elementary School preschool teacher Bonnie Diaz gives 4-year-old Hiroya Fukuchi a crayon to color with as she tries to cheer him up on the first day of school Monday in Denton.

The first day of the school year brought excitement for several area school children.

Before Borman Elementary School officially opened Monday, students peered in glass doors where school staff waited inside to greet them.

A pre-kindergarten teacher made her way to the door with a box.

“Someone’s coming,” a child called out.

As the teacher entered the school, a student eager to get inside attempted to walk in behind her but was asked to wait outside until the doors officially open.

The child stood there holding the handle of a locked door.

Outside the same door, Kristin Logue waited with her daughter, Lizabeth, who had arrived with a Hello Kitty backpack and a lunch bag to match. The new school year brought about a new beginning for them — Logue returned to college Monday at North Central Texas College while Lizabeth was on her way to school full time.

The first day, she said, was nerve-wrecking but also exciting.

“It’s like a turning point, a new phase, she’s not a baby anymore,” Logue said. “It’s a new phase for both of us.”

Lizabeth said she’s “really happy” about school starting. She looked forward to science and learning about animals, she said.

“It’s the first day of school, and I want to know what I do here,” the kindergartner said. “It’s gonna be exciting.”

On Monday, the Denton district welcomed 24,920 students to the start of the 2012-13 school year. According to district officials, that’s a 944-student increase from school’s first day last year.

The district anticipates enrollment numbers to increase between now and the first two weeks of school.

District transportation officials reported a smooth opening with 6,500 students being bused on the first day. They expect to transport about 7,500 most school days.

Superintendent Jamie Wilson visited several of the district’s schools the first day and said school got off to “a great start.” The district reported no major problems.

“We had an extremely smooth start for the first day,” Wilson said in a district statement. “Many parents and community volunteers were engaged on our first day, which is what we need for our students to have a successful year.”

Though the first day was exciting for many, Monday was not without its jitters and tears.

Pre-kindergartner A.J. Mendoza latched onto his mother, Guadalupe Gurrola, not wanting to let her go, as she attempted to leave his classroom. School staff attempted to calm the crying boy.

“A.J., be brave buddy,” teacher Bonnie Diaz said. “We’re going to have lots of fun.”

Gurrola said she also has a daughter who is entering sixth grade at McMath Middle School. She was excited to see her children return to school, particularly for A.J. to learn his alphabet.

For other students like A.J., Rosie, the school’s therapy dog, strolled the halls the first day. The 3-year-old West Highland terrier seemed to enjoy the attention she got from tearful students who walked her down the hall on a leash or stopped to pet her.

“Every child’s heart melts when they see a puppy, and it helps calm their fear,” Borman Principal Robert Gonzalez said. “Puppies, they have a way with calming everyone’s fears and anxiety. Once they [students] feel comfortable, Rosie the dog walks them back into the classroom and back where we need them.”

Monday also marked the first day of school for several area public and private schools.

Officials in Argyle, Aubrey, Krum, Lake Dallas, Ponder and Sanger all said things ran smoothly the first day.

Argyle Superintendent Telena Wright said the school district started the year off with 40 more students than what the district finished last school year with and expected to have more students coming over the next couple of weeks.

Aubrey also reported an increase over last year, and Ponder reported a slight decrease.

Chelbie Birdwell, spokeswoman for the Krum school district, said work on a turning lane at FM1173 was recently completed and made the morning traffic and drop-off for families smooth.

At the middle school, she said students didn’t have the typical first day. Using their own technology devices, some students participated in a scavenger hunt, while others wrote down things they believed they “can’t do” and buried those things.

“It’s been a great day, and I’m sure it’s going to be a great year,” Birdwell said.

Sanger Superintendent Kent Crutsinger said he’s never seen a first day run so smoothly.

“There were a few tears, but everyone seems pretty happy with the first day,” he said.

Over the next few days, the Sanger school district will look to monitor class sizes and student-teacher ratios.

Crutsinger also said monitoring transportation and traffic flow will also be priority.

“We changed several of our start and end times, so I expect it will take time for parents to get used to that,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll work out any kinks we face early on rather than later.”

John Harden contributed to this report.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is btabor@dentonrc.com .


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