By J.R. Williams - firstname.lastname@example.org
First day of classesThe school bells will be ringing throughout much of the Northern Shenandoah Valley later this week.
Parents and pupils packed the brightly colored halls of Frederick County's newest school for an open house, which was geared toward introducing children to their new teachers and a new building.
Kim Barber was there with her daughter, an upcoming second-grader transferring from Red Bud Run Elementary School to Greenwood Mill.
"It's colorful, everybody's been so friendly and the principal is outgoing," Barber said. "We're impressed."
The 100,000-square-foot school, constructed at a cost of $23 million, will open at capacity its inaugural year. As part of cost-cutting measures during a difficult budget process, Senseny Road Elementary School pupils will attend Greenwood Mill along with children rezoned to the new school.
The Senseny Road building now will house the Northwestern Regional Education Program and Head Start for the county. Greenwood Mill serves pupils from kindergarten through fifth grade.
During the rezoning process, some parents expressed concerns about overcrowding.
With half-day kindergarten, Greenwood Mill has the capacity for 780 pupils, Assistant Superintendent for Administration Al Orndorff has said. If need be, the school can handle as many as 850 in the future by using rooms not immediately slated for instruction as classrooms, he said.
Many instructors from Senseny Road transferred from the old school as well. Faculty members have been busy for several weeks at the new building, preparing their classrooms for Frederick County's first day of school on Wednesday.
"We're excited to see the kids back," said Steve Amtower, a guidance counselor at the school who transferred from Senseny Road.
Pupils who live nearby also will be allowed to walk to school. Crossing guards will be positioned each morning and afternoon at Channing Road and Canyon Drive, and at steps at the back of the school that lead to neighboring houses.
Barber, who lives nearby, said she would not allow her daughter to walk to school despite the crossing guard because of the high volume of traffic on Channing.
She called the lack of additional safeguards at the intersection "the only thing I'm not impressed with."
Sharon Leake, a 13th-year special education teacher's assistant who also transferred from Senseny Road, was giving directions to parents Monday. They were most excited to see the large music and art rooms, as well as the gymnasium.
"Senseny Road is like an old home," she said. "I thought I would kind of miss it, but things are just so inviting here.
"I don't think anyone will miss the old building. A lot of good memories are there, but a lot of new memories will be created here."