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Bristol Warren welcomes more than 3,400 students back to school

By   /   August 29, 2013  /   Be the first to comment

Students filed into Rockwell Elementary School Wednesday for their first day.

Photos by Rich Dionne                                                                       Students filed into Rockwell Elementary School Wednesday for their first day.

Nervous. Overwhelmed. Anxious.

They’re the first-day-of-school jitters, and Lisa Davis had them.

Walking the expansive hallways of Kickemuit Middle School, she wasn’t sure she’d remember where her classroom was.

But once that bell ran, signaling the start of the 2013-2014 school year, she began to relax, just a little.

“The best advice I’ve been given has been to be strict at first, and then relax a little or they’ll walk all over you,” said Ms. Davis.

This was Ms. Davis’ first year teaching at the middle school, and as a profession. The 42-year-old former science researcher changed career paths shortly after having children. Now, she’ll be teaching seventh-grade science.

“I just knew I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I didn’t do any part-time subbing. I knew that when the time was right, and I went back to work, I wanted to be around people and I knew I wanted to teach.”

Ms. Davis’ felt more at ease as the day progressed, with her colleagues dropping by to “make sure she was still breathing,” she laughed.

The Bristol Warren School District welcomed its 3,418 students back to school Wednesday, and for the most part, said Schools Superintendent Melinda Thies, it was a smooth process.

“We did have a delay in terms of the release of students on buses,” Ms. Thies said, “which happens on the first day of school. It’s kind of a traditional pattern, making sure all the students are on the right buses.”

Students at Colt Andrews Elementary School experienced an hour-long delay on their return home.

“As of 4 p.m., the buses had not gotten to the school,” Ms. Thies said.

Since all schools within the district are serviced by the same buses, start and dismissal times are tiered. Colt Andrews is the last school on that tier, and as a result of any delay experienced earlier in the day, those students are most effected.

“We don’t leave until the last student is brought home,” Ms. Thies said, assuring parents that her office doesn’t close until all students have been brought home.

Beth Hayes, principal at Kickemuit Middle School, stood amidst more than 700 students filing out of the former Warren High School building, flooding the parking lot to board their buses.

“There’s just so much information on the first day of school for sixth-graders, that they forget their bus number,” she said. Buses start their afternoon drop-off schedule at the middle school.

Dozens of students poured in and out of the office, crowding the front desk in search of their bus numbers. Secretary Liza Olson delved out routes to confused students, all while transmitting straggler information to Ms. Hayes via walkie-talkie.

“I’ve got a Bristol kid here,” she hollered into the walkie-talkie.

“Where is the bus, which bus are we holding,” answered Hayes, with a somewhat urgent tone.

On any other day, student release takes about seven or eight minutes, Ms. Hayes said. On Wednesday, it took a little more than 15 minutes.

“By the end of this week, things will settle down and get into a routine,” Ms. Thies said. “Everything will run smoothly.

The first day is also an emotional one, not just for students, but for parents too.

“I was up super early to get ready for a day like today,” said Mike Leamy, whose daughter was starting kindergarten at Rockwell Elementary School. “I had coffee, tried to calm my nerves and got to the school an hour early.”

Thinking of his little girl starting school for the first time hit an emotional chord with Mr. Leamy.

“It’s nerve-wrecking,” he said, holding back tears. “I hope there are nice kids, nice teachers, all that good stuff. It’s a big step, a milestone. I wish her the best. She’s a good kid.”

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