• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Students, teachers begin 2019-20 school year


The first day of classes in Woodford County Public Schools began last Thursday morning, Aug. 8, with few issues other than making sure students were getting on the correct buses, schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins said. He said transportation challenges are not uncommon when the school year begins, “but overall it was just a really, really good first day.” Woodford County High School students began the year with a new principal, Jason Arnold, and two experienced assistant principals, Kevin Faris and Jennifer Forgy. “It’s always great to have experienced people because (they) kind of know what to expect and what to be prepared for, and I think our folks were really well-prepared” for the start of school, said Hawkins. Southside Elementary’s new principal Jeremy Reynolds was not an unfamiliar face to students, parents and teachers on the first day. He was Southside’s administrative dean for the last two years, and was a teacher there for eight years before that. Southside students ate lunch in a cafeteria about twice as large as last school year, after an addition was completed this summer to reduce the length of time when lunches are served. New tables had not arrived for the added space so tables and chairs were borrowed from Woodford County Middle School until the new furnishings arrive, probably at the end of this month or at the start of September, Hawkins said. Food Service Coordinator Courtney Quire stood alongside cafeteria staff as students began arriving for lunch around 11 in the morning. It was all hands on deck as kindergartners came through the lunch line and needed help opening milk cartons and other containers. School Resource Officer Patrick Shryock talked and gave high-fives to students, and longtime custodian “Miss Sue” – Sue Manley – sang “Happy Birthday” to a kindergartner, while urging her reluctant classmates to chime-in with the traditional, “Cha-Cha-Cha” as she sang. Huntertown Elementary welcomed more kindergartners than anticipated, Hawkins confirmed. “We try to look at trends and base our projection on that trend,” he explained. “Obviously, we’ll look at the numbers over the first few days.” If the numbers hold steady (80-plus students), Hawkins said a fourth kindergarten teacher will be needed at Huntertown, which already had a classroom ready for the additional students. Principal Elaine Kaiser said she welcomed six new teachers to her building. “Our veteran staff has embraced them, helped them get their rooms set up,” she said. Also, new teachers received binders with information that they can refer to as needed. “I’ve been in their classes today, and everything is going very smoothly,” said Kaiser. She said new teachers bring a lot of excitement and many ideas to a school. Huntertown Elementary fifth-grade teacher Noel Endicott, who did her student-teaching at Southside last school year, described having her own class as “really exciting.” “I actually really love this age group,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to teach intermediate – fourth- or fifth-grade – because … of the discussion you can have with them and you can go a lot deeper with the content, and just the personalities … you can … have great conversations with them.” Ryan Asher began his 14th year as Northside Elementary’s principal, and described the start of a new school year as “fantastic.” “It helps that I have 13 years under my belt, and a lot of veteran staff that know how to get things ready,” he said. First-grade teacher Megan Tracey began her first year at Northside, but has been teaching for nine years, including eight in Fayette County schools. Having moved to Versailles with her family three years ago, she said, “I’m so excited to be here.” One thing Asher said he and his teachers can always count on when a school year begins “is the energy (students) bring. That was very evident this morning. All the smiles and energy they pump into this place. It brings it to life.” Art teacher Sara Brooks helped students get to know one another while playing “Art Room Hunt Bingo” on the first day of school at Simmons Elementary. Second-graders in Faith Duke’s class asked their classmates: do they like drawing people, love the color blue or enjoy painting? “There is nothing like the first day of school in an elementary school,” said Simmons Principal Tiffany Cook. “I stood in the parking lot this morning and forgot all the preparations – forgot everything and just saw the smiles on the kids’ faces, them running to us, giving us hugs. There’s nothing like it.” When students return to school, Cook said they remind her why she does what she does. “It makes it worthwhile when they’re here,” she added. School Resource Officers are again in the middle and high schools as well as all four elementary schools. They are there for the safety of students and teachers, but also “jumping in and helping with whatever is needed,” said Hawkins. He and other central office administrators began their morning on Aug. 8 at schools to provide additional support, and to greet students, teachers and staff as a new school year began.

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