Schools experience ‘smooth’ first day

Published 11:04 pm Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Heat may have been the only enemy for teachers and students returning to school Monday. Principals at area schools reported no major problems with students as bells rang to begin the 2010-2011 school year for Escambia County schools.

David Nolin, principal at A.C. Moore Elementary, said the first day of school at the third and fourth grade facility went well with very little trouble.

“Everything went really well for our first day,” Nolin said. “The parking lot and down the street was filled with cars with a lot of parents coming into the school with their children. We had a great day and had only a few issues with new students registering for school.”

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Nolin said only about 260 of the expected 295 students came to school on the first day of class.

“We know that not all of our students have made it in yet,” Nolin said. “That seems to be typical of the first week or so of school.”

The same is true at Huxford Elementary with more students expected on campus in the coming weeks.

Donna Silcox, principal at Huxford said enrollment at the school is at the highest level she has seen in her four years at the post.

“Right now we have around 319 students enrolled,” Silcox said. “That’s the highest number of students we’ve had since I’ve been principal. We had around 300 students on our first day.”

The number of students expected at Huxford is somewhat of a concern as far as space limitations at the school, Silcox said.

“I’m concerned about growing any more,” Silcox said. “We have limited space and we don’t have much room for growth.”

Silcox credits a diligent maintenance staff with the school’s facility being sufficient for current enrollment.

“Our maintenance department people work really hard for us,” Silcox said. “They have done an excellent job of fixing up and keeping up this old building. They have always been willing to do what it takes to make this school a good place for children to learn and grow. They are part of this family we have at Huxford.”

Susan McKenzie, principal at Rachel Patterson Elementary School, said the first day of classes went smoothly with well-organized teachers and students making the day a good one.

“We had a great first day of school,” McKenzie said. “The students came in ready and seemed happy to be here. Our teachers were organized and eager to get the school year started. I made it to some of the classrooms on Monday and found some of the teachers already getting into a routine with the students with reading and instruction.”

McKenzie said the enrollment at the school should balance out in the coming weeks as some students withdraw and others enroll.

“We always have a fluctuation in our numbers during the first few weeks of the school year,” McKenzie said. “We had some students to withdraw and had some new students register. I think that as we move forward our numbers will probably balance out and the enrollment will be what we expected.”

Currently Silcox said class sizes are at a reasonable ratio for students to teachers.

“We are running around 19 or so in our fifth grade classes and around 17 students in one of our sixth grade classes,” Silcox said. “Some of our classes have higher numbers with as many as 27 per class. A lot of our classes have 20 or more students per teacher. With the wonderful teachers we have that number really shouldn’t be a problem. We are just a big family here and that is a big plus for us.”

A.C. Moore Elementary added two new teachers to the faculty roster this year, Nolin said.

“We have a new third grade teacher and a new fourth grade teacher on staff this year,” Nolin said. “Cindy Scott is teaching fourth grade and Karie Jo Richburg is teaching one of our third grade classes.”

Silcox said her school faculty roster did not change for the 2010-2011 school year.

“We have the same teachers we had last year and that’s a big plus for us,” Silcox said. “We are excited about this school year and are happy that we had the best first day I’ve ever seen at this school.”

At Escambia County Middle School, Principal Linda Shuford said the day could not have gone smoother.

“Everything went as smooth as silk,” Shuford said. “We didn’t have any problems at all during that first day.”

Shuford said the 575 students who filled the classrooms on the first day of school grew to more than 600 on Tuesday.

“We had about 575 on the first day of class,” Shuford said. “We had more than 600 on our second day. Those numbers will change a little as we get into the school year.”

The ease of transition on the first days of school may be attributed to the open house held at the school on Sunday, Shuford said.

“Our open house was very well attended by parents and students,” Shuford said. “That may have been one of the factors that helped make the first day of school less hectic for everyone. Most of the students knew where they were supposed to go and it helped to move things along nicely on our first day.”

At Escambia County High School, another smooth day was seen. Principal Zickeyous Byrd said students, faculty and staff moved through the day without any difficulty.

The 2010-2011 school year began for Escambia County students Monday and will end May 25, 2011. For details concerning the school calendar, including holidays, visit the Escambia County Board of Education Web site at

Top, Rachel Patterson Elementary School first grade student Jeremiah Clack works on his coloring Monday. | Photo by Adam Prestridge