Arlington students return to school

Lucie Gawdin writes her name during her first day of kindergarten at Pioneer Elementary School on Sept. 5. - Lauren Salcedo
Lucie Gawdin writes her name during her first day of kindergarten at Pioneer Elementary School on Sept. 5.
— image credit: Lauren Salcedo

ARLINGTON — Thousands of students, parents and staff returned to school campuses across Arlington on Sept. 5 and Sept. 6 for the first day of classes for the school year.

A total of 5,576 students began classes last week at Arlington’s four elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools.

“Our enrollment has done really well this year and the first day has gone very, very smooth,” said Andrea Conley, public information coordinator for the Arlington School District. “When I talked to the staff they were all really pumped, so that’s great.”

The district is making changes in 2012 in an effort to build more collaborative environments in each school.

“We are looking at increasing early release days to increase collaboration among the teachers,” said Conley. “It’s an opportunity to really work on improving student achievement.”

In addition to district changes, both state and federal standards are changing in 2012.

“There are a lot of big changes coming down the line,” said Conley. “The state is focusing on the Common Core state standards, and another thing that is changing is school ratings and categories. They are implementing the Smarter Balanced Assessments and more. It’s all in the works right now.”

The district itself is proud of how their own developments for learning are progressing through the years.

“In terms of our own standards, everything is moving along and growing, and that’s really exciting,” said Conley. “Every first-grader at every school is learning the same thing.”

At Pioneer Elementary School, hundreds crowded around the front doors of the building, eager to get started on their new year.

For fourth- and fifth-grade students, the day marked a sort of homecoming, with eager greetings and excitement at seeing friends who weren’t seen over the long summer vacation. For kindergarten and first-grade students, nerves ran a little high, and it wasn’t just the kids.

“This is pretty hard. It’s very hard, actually. I’m going to miss seeing him everyday,” said Jessica Hill, of her son Jonathan who is going to school for the first time. “But I’m really excited, it will be a lot of fun for him.”

Jonathan Hill was heading into his first day of kindergarten and was so excited for school, that he woke up much earlier than he planned.

“He woke me up at six in the morning to make breakfast,” said Jessica Hill. “We were so excited that we got here at 8 a.m.” Jonathan Hill already knew the name of his teacher and brought her a gift for the first day.

“I brought flowers. They are pretty little right now, but if she keeps watering them they’ll grow really big,” he said.

The first day of school can be a nostalgic experience, especially for the parents. “I feel like I was just in school,” laughed Hill.

For Brandon Mascitti, going into third grade at Pioneer is a new experience, as he just transferred from another district.

“It’s my first year here, but I’m really excited,” he said. His mom, Mary Beth Mascitti, agreed. “Well, this is a brand new school for us, but we’re both so excited.”

Brandon already has some hopeful ideas of what’s in store for him this year. “I want to learn about the world,” he said.


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