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Shenandoah schools finalize plans for first day back

By Josette Keelor

Teachers and administrators for Shenandoah County Public Schools have some last-minute preparations to finish before the 2014-15 school begins next Tuesday.

Work is still being completed on school buildings, and although class sizes will not be determined until Tuesday, Superintendent Jeremy Raley said, "We're exited about the upcoming school year."

This week teachers have participated in sessions for first aid, CPR and AED training, and plan open houses and orientation for new students at all 10 public schools today.

Triplett Tech's open house will be from 1 to 6 p.m. today. Sandy Hook Elementary, W.W. Robinson Elementary and Strasburg High School will have theirs from 1 to 7 p.m. and Signal Knob Middle School and Ashby-Lee Elementary from 3 to 7 p.m.

Peter Muhlenburg Middle and North Fork Middle will welcome visitors from 5 to 7 p.m., Stonewall Jackson High School beginning at 6 p.m. and Central High from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

According to a press release from the school division, orientation times will provide new students with confidence of having met their teachers and found their classrooms before the first day of school.

As students return to school following Monday's Labor Day holiday, Raley reminded area motorists to be "cautious around our school buses."

School Board members recently discussed uneven class sizes at its August meeting, but Raley said Tuesday that student admission numbers won't be ironed out until school begins.

"At this point in time everything is in a state of flux because students are coming, students are going," he said.

Last year at this time, kindergarten class sizes were a concern, particularly at W.W. Robinson Elementary in Woodstock, where the student-teacher ratio was expected to be about 20 to one. Raley, who was hired as superintendent after the start of the last academic year, said no new kindergarten teachers have been hired for the coming school year.

"We're in the process of monitoring our kindergarten numbers," he said. Additional educators added to W.W. Robinson and to Sandy Hook Elementary in Strasburg will teach at the higher grades, he said.

Other new staff members include a part-time speech language pathologist position for preschool students and a fulltime teacher for the visually impaired to help where needed throughout the division.

At Central High School in Woodstock, a brick sign constructed this week at the corner of Susan Avenue along Reservoir Road is a legacy from the high school's first graduating class -- a gift to the school, Raley said.

Security upgrades to elementary and high schools this summer include the installation of school access control, which Raley said will allow staff access only at certain school doors. He said the updates also involve the re-keying of door locks.

"They're progressing [on security upgrades]," he said. "We're making progress each day."

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com

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