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McDuffie students head back to the classroom

Steve Schell was all smiles as he walked out of Maxwell Elementary School Monday morning.


Sharon Baker, art teacher at Norris Elementary School, reads to students on the first day of school in McDuffie County.

He had just dropped his son, Hunter, off at pre-k - and the 2006-2007 school year had gotten off on the right foot.

"He woke up this morning and said 'I'm going to big school today. And tomorrow, I'm going to go to big school. And then the next day, I'm going to go to big school,'" Mr. Schell said with a proud laugh. "If we can keep that attitude going, we'll be OK."

McDuffie County's 4,300 students hit the classroom Monday, and across the system, school leaders were thrilled from the start.

"It's been absolutely smooth and wonderful," said Norris Elementary Principal Steve Rhodes. "I hope tomorrow goes as well as today."

McDuffie County School Superintendent Mark Petersen said it was "the finest opening that I've had in 26 years. Very smooth. We had all the people in place, we had students who were ready to come back to school and teachers who were ready to be there."

In some cases, like Thomson Middle School, there were adjustments to be made. Students and teachers had to get used to classes that are 15 minutes longer this year.

"I think it's great," said Melissa Fogarty, language arts teacher. "I don't feel like I'm rushing through my lesson."

But some students would have preferred to rush.

"It's longer and more boring. I didn't like none of them," said Danielle Johnson, an eighth grader.

Danielle wasn't alone in feeling a little off kilter on the first day.

"It's fun 'cause we get to play," said Thomson Elementary Kindergartener Jam'hia Washington. "But I wanna go home."

Back at Thomson Middle, Bryan Chambers wanted just a few more days of summer.

"I wish summer didn't end," he said. "I wish it lasted all year."

Across town at Thomson Elementary School, first-year principal Anita Cummings said she was all smiles as she talked about the cooperation between parents, students and staff.

"We are off to a wonderful start," she said. "Everybody has pitched in where needed."

In Pictures: Back to School

Click on images for more photos

Web posted on Thursday, August 3, 2006

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