Officials report smooth sailing so far

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Six-year-old Jacob Johnson hovered with his mother outside hisfirst grade classroom morning. He did not look forward to goingin.

“I’m just not (ready for summer to be over),” he said.

His mother, Brandie Johnson, said Jacob was nervous.

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“He’s a little anxious. He’ll meet his teacher for the firsttime today,” she said.

Brandie Johnson said the family was at the beach in Gulf Shores,Ala., when Enterprise Attendance Center held its open house forstudents and parents to meet the teachers.

“That’s why I didn’t get to meet my teacher that day,” headded.

Johnson is only one of thousands of students returning toLincoln County School District campuses today.

“It’s a little chaotic today, but it always is on the firstday,” said Enterprise Principal Shannon Eubanks. “Everything isgoing well.”

Lincoln County School District Superintendent Terry Brister saideverything he heard this morning appeared positive.

“It’s going a lot smoother than I thought it would,” Bristersaid. “I may hear something in the morning, but right now theprincipals all seem happy.”

Brister said he worried that some bus routes, which have to bererouted every year depending on the location of students along theroute, may pose some problems.

“You cringe in the morning wondering about your bus routes, butit seems to be smooth so far,” he said. “I may hear from someparents after lunch or (later) in the morning.”

At Enterprise, the normal chaos caused by the rush of studentsreturning to school was heightened by the closing of the studentparking lot. Driving-age students were being directed to park bythe softball field.

The parking lot was closed early to help student establish theroutine of parking at the softball field as the school prepares tobuild 12 new classrooms near the closed parking lot.

“We wanted to do that now before they get used to parkingthere,” Eubanks said. “We wanted to get the headache (of thetransfer) over with immediately while we’re dealing with the otheropening day issues.”

Dirt work on the classroom project is expected to begin nextmonth “with construction ratcheting up by December,” he said.Administrators hope to be in the new classrooms by the start of the2009 school year.

Enterprise is one of the fastest-growing schools in thedistrict, Eubanks said, and has added 40-50 new students this year.The building was designed to have one or two classrooms more thanthe school needed to allow for the future, but the fast-pacedgrowth at the school has already eclipsed those plans.

“Right now, it will be already full,” he said.

It will, however, allow the school to group its elementary gradeclasses. Those classes are presently scattered across thecampus.

The county school population has been growing rapidly, Bristersaid, but he could not say how much growth the district saw withthe end of summer.

“This week will be telling,” he said. “We have it on paper, butwe won’t know for sure until we can count bodies for a week.”

The disturbance of Enterprise’s normal traffic flow has added tothe danger of an already busy area with buses unloading, studentsparking or moving to classrooms and passing traffic, and Eubanksurged all drivers to be patient and careful when traveling alongTopisaw Road.

“We just ask all parents and students to be very careful. It’svery congested in the morning, especially while the students adaptto the new parking arrangements,” Eubanks said. “I’d rather have astudent come in late than be in an accident.”

Brister also urged drivers to use caution and stay alert whiletraveling as students will again be beside the road waiting onbuses in the early morning hours and being dropped off aboutmid-afternoon.

Elsewhere, new Wesson Attendance Center high school PrincipalOscar Hawkins is back on campus after retiring from WAC in 1999,and said the first day has gone well for both the students and forhim.

“It’s going great so far,” he said. “Our first day has run verysmoothly. The seniors’ parade was great, too.”

Hawkins said he is excited to be back at Wesson, and looksforward to the year to come.

“This is exciting for me. I got to rest for a few years, and nowI’m back,” he said. “This year we plan to bring them from wherethey are now to a higher place in their lives.”

Students in Lawrence County also returned to school today.Brookhaven School District students will return to campusTuesday.