Thursday was like Christmas Day for Carla Smith. She couldn’t wait to see what the day offered.
Smith is the principal at Yukon’s Skyview Elementary School. Thursday was the first day of classes for the 2018-19 school year.
“The first day is better than Christmas Day in some ways. It is a new start, a new chance. Every student here gets a fresh start, and it is exciting for everybody,” she said.
Smith said the teachers have worked hard throughout the summer to prepare for the new year.
“The teachers have worked hard, we (the administration) have worked hard, and I know the kids are ready,” she said.
The school added two new teachers and two new speech pathologists this year. Otherwise, the same staff is in place.
That is important, Smith said, because it allows the school’s staff to jump into the new year.
“The teacher teams have already worked with each other, and they know the strengths and weakness of each other … We don’t have to do a lot of the team building. It is already in place,” Smith said.
Skyview has about 580 students, but Smith said that number is likely to grow over the next several days.
The theme this year is “Mission Possible, Agents of Change,” she said, as Henry Mancini’s theme from “The Pink Panther” played in the background.
She said the theme lets students know that nothing is impossible to achieve.
Smith said the teachers have been working throughout the summer preparing for the new year.
“Emotionally and energetically, teachers have been making everything look new. It’s that personalization,” she said.
In addition, there have been planning meetings to discuss new, fresh ways to teach students, she said.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said things went smoothly for the first day.
“It was beautiful,” he said.
That was in despite of changes to bus routes and some school starting times.
“This was the best starting day for our transportation department since I have been here. … The parents were super cooperative,” he said.
Simeroth said parents and children were lined up and waiting as buses arrived.
“They understood. It was very nice.”
Meanwhile, Simeroth said there were the normal first-day issues. Small children who were starting school for the first time had some tears, as did some of their parents.
But the district’s teaching staff was prepared.
Simeroth said many of the teachers have creative themes and are doing things to help students get more involved, such as using alternative seating.
Meanwhile, the district did have a few moisture problems.
“We had a little dampness from the rain. There were small leaks, but when you get a decade-high rainfall, there is that possibility,” he said.
He also said there were minor air conditioning issues at a few schools, but those will be repaired quickly.
“There was nothing that stood out as a major collapse in any kind of equipment,” he said.
The district welcomed Sodexo as the school’s food service provider. Simeroth said that worked out well, although they are following the menu of former provider SFE for the first three weeks. After that, Sodexo will incorporate its menu, as well as adding to the options at all school levels.
Much of Simeroth’s day Thursday and Friday was spent visiting as many schools as he could.
“I try to get to every classroom. It is a long two days. But I love it,” he said.
Simeroth said he didn’t have first-day attendance numbers.
Officials said earlier that they believe about 9,050 students were enrolled in the district. Final enrollment numbers won’t be known until after Oct. 1.