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By Staff | Aug 8, 2012

Michael Pistella Gulf Elementary fourth-grade teacher Regina Notarianni gets some last-minute items ready for the white board in her classroom Tuesday morning in preparation for the first day of school.

About 86,000 K-12 students in Lee County are expected to be back in school today, Wednesday, Aug. 8.

“Students are still registering as we speak,” said Joe Donzelli director, Communications & Print Services for Lee County Public Schools concerning the exact number.

Make sure you check your specific bell times. For specific bell times, Donzelli suggests you go to the district website for your specific school’s times. “They can, of course, call their child’s school for this information as well.”

The website is leeschools.net. For specific Back To School questions, the address is leeschools.net/Back2School.

What do you do if your child is still not registered?

Gulf Elementary intensive academics fourth and fifth-grade teacher Paula Davis gets her Smart Board ready for the new school year.

“Parents must visit a Student Assignment Office to register their child(ren) – do not arrive at school to register.”

The Cape Coral Office is located at 370 Santa Barbara Blvd., N., (located in the Lee County High Tech Center North, off of Pine Island Road, just north of Roger Dean Chevrolet.) The phone number is 242-2059.

Things you need to know, according to the website:

n Children entering kindergarten must be 5 years old on or before Sept. 1 of the school year they are entering kindergarten.

n Children must complete kindergarten before entering the first grade.

n For information regarding Head Start Pre-Kindergarten Programs call 332-2512.

What parents need to know first day?

“For any questions, the first – and most important – point of contact is their child’s school. Staff members are on hand to answer any question they may have, and not just on the first day, but all year long,” Donzelli said.

“They also need to plan on some extra time the first day – especially at the lower grade levels. There will be a large number of parents who are going to want to bring their children to school, which means longer lines in the parent drop off/pick up area and more cars parked in parking lots as they walk their children to class. Just pack a little extra patience on the first couple of days of school.”

If your child is riding a bus, he said, “Please make sure they go over the proper etiquette while at the bus stop and while riding the bus. Also, please ensure their child knows what stop is theirs so when they are coming home the get off at the proper stop – and review what they are to do once they exit the bus (i.e. the route to walk home, etc.)”

Also, it is important that parents have their contact information up-to-date at their child’s school (phone numbers, email addresses, etc.)

“This is vital in the event the school must reach them about their child during the school day.”

Gulf Elementary School Principal Kim Verblaauw said staff and students are excited to start the new school year.

“The teachers have been here preparing their classrooms and have had the opportunity to meet their students on Saturday at meet the teacher day,” she said. “We are excited about meeting the new kindergarten students and working with our returning students. The teachers are looking forward to implementing the social studies curriculum.”

She said there is a lot new at her school this year.

“We will have two science, technology, engineering and math labs for students and teachers to explore STEM curriculum. Also students in 3rd-5th will be using Project Lead the Way National STEM curriculum and Engineering is Elementary. We are implementing the Common Core State Standards. We also increased our mobile computer labs for use in the classrooms. “

What special things students can Gulf Elementary students look forward to? An Eagle Prize pizza party, Positive Behavior Support reward day, a variety of student clubs, end of the year grade level award ceremony, and various other recognitions throughout the year.

For all school children across Lee, the district offers these recommendations:

n Make as many preparations the night before. This could entail pre-packing any backpacks, compiling any needed paperwork (i.e. class schedules, maps of the school campus, etc.) – anything to help avoid last-minute scrambling, which can add to the anxiety level on the first day.

n Try laying out the outfit your child wants to wear the night before – again, to avoid any last minute issues. And if you bought a new pair of shoes for school, you may want to have your child “break them in” a bit prior to “lacing them up” for the first day.

n If your child is bringing a lunch, be sure to make and pack it in time to hit the road or make the bus stop. If they are participating in the school’s lunch program, be sure they have money or that you’ve enrolled in any pre-pay program that may exist (and don’t forget to check out the lunch menu on the district’s Web site.)

n Hopefully parents have attended the open house event at their child’s school. If not, you can contact the school’s front office to schedule a meeting with the principal or assistant principal if needed.

n Being nervous on the first day is normal – for both students and parents. There’s always a certain level of excitement on the first day. Let your child know it’s okay to feel that way, but remind them that they will quickly be making new friends and having fun and learning new and exciting things!

For communities members/commuters:

n Please slow down. Remember, summer is over and that means more vehicles on the roadways in the morning and afternoon – especially those really large, yellow school buses. Be sure to plan extra time getting to and from work.

n Watch for children in the pre-dawn hours as they make their way to school or the bus stop – drive slowly to avoid a tragic situation from taking place.

n Watch for established school zones – the flashing lights and/or signage that indicate a slower speed during certain times of the day.

n When a bus stops and extends the flashing “Stop Signs” on its side, be sure to do just that – stop. If the bus is dropping students off in the afternoon, be vigilant to ensure they don’t dart out in front of your vehicle as you start to drive away.

“The goal is for everyone – students, faculty, staff, parents and community members – to be safe as we start a new school year,” Donzelli said.