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First day of school goes smoothly

By Staff | Aug 12, 2016

For Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins, the first day of school is like Christmas and the longest day of his life all rolled into one.

It started at 3 a.m., where he headed to Fort Myers High School to help the seniors make pancakes for the incoming freshmen before going to the South Transportation Compound to watch the bus operators leave for their routes.

Such is his job as he watched the first day of school go off with little trouble Wednesday.

Adkins also visited South Fort Myers High School, where he met the new principal there; James Stephens Academy, where he helped a crossing guard and met their new principal and the Success Academy before heading to Challenger Middle School.

And they say the Army does more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day.

Teachers and students returned with a renewed enthusiasm, many happy the summer vacation was over and back with their co-workers and friends.

“The kids are coming back for the summer. Everyone is revitalized and there’s lots of energy in the air. I’ve been looking forward to it,” Adkins said.

If there is a kink in the armor, it’s in transportation, Adkins said, since it’s a complex plan to get hundreds of buses on the road and synchronized to get them where they have to be.

“We don’t always know what kids are going to be on the bus. You have to base your routes on who’s eligible to ride and make adjustments,” Adkins said. “People have to determine the new traffic patterns and get used to more traffic.”

It was also a long day for school board member Mary Fischer. She chose Challenger as her fourth school visit of the day, where she watched the students pick up their new Chromebooks.

Fischer said everything was smooth on the first day, with all staff out front and center to welcome the kids back.

“The kids are smiling, not crying, so it’s looking good. The kids are a little nervous about the teachers or not being able to find class,” Fischer said. “We have had people at the schools helping the kids and the parents.”

Fischer had expected to see many of the high school students half comatose, having to get used to waking up at 5:30 every morning to make it on time for the 7:05 bell time. After all, she worked in a high school.

“They were very happy to see their friends. There was a lot of high-fiving and interaction and there was no crying from the kindergartners at the elementary schools,” Fischer said.

At Challenger Middle School, the kids spent their first day getting the computers and in their first-period class for mentoring (which serves as their homeroom), where they learned the rules and procedures. They also got their schedules, went to an assembly and did some drills.

“There are no academics. We just learn about policies, get to know each other and get to know the school before you come back for your first academic class,” said Terri Cannady, Challenger principal, who opened the school 11 years ago.