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Shenandoah County students return to class

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Kindergarten students walk into Sandy Hook Elementary during the first day of school in Strasburg. About 1,150 pupils attended Sandy Hook on the first day. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Alesia Livesay, a speech pathologist at Sandy Hook Elementary School, gives kindergarten student Zackary Golden, 5, directions to his teacher after Rich Cooley/Daily

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Abigail Jones, 5, of Front Royal, holds the hand of her kindergarten teacher, Elizabeth Horton, while standing outside Sandy Hook Elementary School on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Central High School Assistant Principal Morgan M. Saeler stands outside school buses as students are dismissed Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

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P. Heath Johnston, assistant principal of Central High School, checks on buses during dismissal from the first day of school on Tuesday in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Sandy Hook Elementary School kindergarten teacher Katie Shifflett tries to console Teagan Kettereman, 5, during his first day of school on Tuesday. Shenandoah County Schools started Tuesday after the Labor Day holiday. Rich Cooley/Daily

Central High School welcomes new administrators

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

Pride and tradition were the watchwords for Central High School administrators on Tuesday, as students across Shenandoah County returned for another school year.

"I had so many kids walk right up to me, introduce themselves, shake my hand and say 'Welcome to the Falcon family,'" said the school's new principal, Melissa Hensley.

Hensley, along with assistant principals Heath Johnston and Morgan Saeler, were brought to the facility from other schools in the county. While Central is the third county high school for Saeler, Hensley and Johnston come from county middle schools.

"When I got here this morning, seniors were cooking breakfast out in the parking lot. Pancakes, eggs, bacon ... I'm not accustomed to that, but apparently it's a tradition here," Hensley said.

The three administrators gathered before school started to discuss any ideas they had for the school, as well as what works and what doesn't in a high school setting.

"We wanted to create a situation where student learning is the top priority," Saeler said.

Johnston was previously on the campus last year while serving as assistant principal at Peter Muhlenburg Middle School.

"I couldn't sleep much last night, just thinking about how the first day would go," he said. "But a lot of the kids here already knew me, and it was nice to see those familiar faces getting more mature and continuing their education. The kids were happy and smiling, so it's been pretty positive."

Hensley said that students weren't asking or commenting about the change in administration on their first day back, but a few stopped by her office with ideas for the school.

"One young man told me he wants to start a peer-tutoring group through the National Honor Society here. It would be totally student-run," she said. "That's something I love to hear. It's exciting."

One change at the high school is the addition of "The Falcon Return," a time every day when students can check in with a teacher to see if they may need additional help in a class.

For the most part, administrators spent their day visiting classrooms.

"That was one of the goals we presented before school started, was that we want to be in the classroom. Teachers definitely noticed that today," Hensley said.

Except for one new teacher and three student teachers, faculty at the school is the same as it was last year, she added, which proved helpful on Tuesday.

"Staff has been great giving us tips and letting us know what to expect here," she said.

As for the day's attendance, Hensley said the school was at about 30 more students than last year, which was expected.

Overall, the school division has 6,012 students enrolled for the 2012-2013 school year, but Superintendent B. Keith Rowland said there were 155 no shows.

"We should be up a little from last year," he said.

On Tuesday, Rowland visited all 10 schools, and by the end of the day was happy to say that "All the kids made it home safely."

"I think today was a good sign," he said. "Kids were returning and ready to go to work."

The county's bus fleet was reduced by two this year, but Rowland said any problems that occurred were minor and corrected.

"Give us a week and hopefully we'll be running like a well-oiled machine," he said of the school system.

1 Comment

Glad you changed the 'Main' heading on the front page from 'HIGH SCHOOL' to just students when the pictures only showed elementary school students.
Thanks for using some Common Sense there.

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