Back to School in York County

First day back for York County schools - more than 60 photos

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comAugust 21, 2013 

At the back door of India Hook Elementary School, art teacher Gina Santucci stood and watched as school buses pulled up to the curb and students came bounding off. They’d stop by her, at the door, many waving at her or reaching up for a hug.

She split the group into two lines: those who eat breakfast at school and those who don’t, then ushered both lines into the building.

“Have a great day!” she said as they passed her. “Welcome back!”

Wednesday morning marked the first day of school for thousands of students across York County, who made their way to schools by bus, by car and by foot, despite foggy conditions and some typical first-day glitches.

At India Hook Elementary, parents were allowed to walk their kids to their classrooms if they wanted, although some left Mom and Dad at the door.

“She didn’t even hug me,” said Michael Mathes of his daughter, who started kindergarten. “She ditched me.”

Crystal Richardson and Travis Colbreath told a similar story about their son, Ty’rique, who was enthusiastic about his first day.

“He was singing, ‘It’s the first day of school!’ the whole way here,” Richardson said, although she admitted she was a little nervous herself.

Colbreath said it felt great to have Ty’rique in kindergarten.

Other kindergartners weren’t quite as brave, clinging to their parents’ hands as they were ushered through the doors and down the hall. In one India Hook kindergarten classroom, though, all the students seemed content and distracted by the containers of Play-Doh waiting for them at their tables.

At the back door by Santucci, fifth-grader Trevor Millington was all smiles as he waited to walk to his classroom after getting off the bus.

“It’s going to be fun, for the most part,” he said. “Today will be good, since it’s the first day.”

In Kim Hallman’s second-grade classroom, Conner Cook unpacked his backpack, which was full of new school supplies. When asked how he felt about the first day of school, he just gave a smile and two thumbs up.

His classmate, Armoni Lloyd, 7, said she had a hard time falling asleep Tuesday night.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I stayed up late.”

At Sullivan Middle School, parents were allowed to stay for a day of orientationlike activities, including following their children to classes. More than 100 parents registered, Principal Michael Waiksnis said, and many who had not registered stayed anyway.

“The main goal is to make them feel welcome,” he said.

Many parents have a misconception about middle school, Waiksnis said, and this day can help ease some of their fears.

Angie Russel stood in line inside the Sullivan gym with her sixth-grader, Ian, waiting to pick up his schedule. She said letting the parents stay gives them a sense of calm when it comes to such a “huge transition” from elementary to middle school.

“I’m going to stay as long as (Ian) lets me,” she said.

Before they left for their classes, friends Dalton White and Joe Goldstein sat on the bleachers of the gym and compared schedules.

“I’m a little nervous,” said Dalton, 11, of his first day of middle school.

After the parents were taken to their welcoming session, the students dispersed.

The sixth-grade students were led to their homeroom classes, where they learned the basics of the building and tried to master the art of the combination lock.

“It’s fun, exciting and scary,” said Dawn Hinnant, food services manager at Sullivan.

The first day of school is always busy for everyone, she said, but it can be especially tough for sixth-graders, because the adjustment from an elementary school to a much larger middle school can be difficult.

Across town at Rock Hill High School, despite some glitches, Assistant Principal Beau Modla said the first day was going well. By this point in their lives, he said, most of the students know the drill.

“The older kids are fine,” Modla said. “The ninth-graders are the ones you’ve got to watch.”

Rock Hill High’s enrollment is more than 2,000 students, much larger than the middle schools that students attend before moving up to high school.

Austin Orr, 14, just moved to the Rock Hill school district and started his freshman year Wednesday at Rock Hill High. When asked what he was looking forward to in high school, he said, “graduating.”

Another student, Shannon Norman, 17, said she was excited about being a senior.

“I’m ready to get out of here,” she said of her last first day of school. “It feels good.”

Rock Hill High was experiencing some difficulties on Wednesday morning. The system used to adjust students’ schedules was down, so students lined up outside the guidance office to make changes. Some students missed the bus to take them across town to the Applied Technology Center.

Little issues like this are typical of the first day, Modla said, but everything, for the most part, was going smoothly.

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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