Summer’s Over

Summer’s Over

Students hit the halls as Arlington Public Schools begin 2003-2004.

For students across the county, Tuesday marked the start of school. For Stacey Turner, it was the start of school, times four. As a new resource assistant at Williamsburg Middle School, Turner got his first chance to greet students coming through the door. Meanwhile, he’s taking classes at night to prepare for an education degree.

Tuesday morning, neither of those were Turner’s biggest back-to-school concerns. “I have two middle school children also, so the first thing was getting them ready,” he said.

But once he got to Williamsburg, Turner switched his focus to “getting a good rapport with the kids, getting to know them.”

Sidewalks around the North Arlington school bustled with activity as parents helped students find their way to class on time. Crossing guards returned to duty as well, looking out for the many students walking to their neighborhood school. Arlington police took note of the first day of school too, as they stopped speeders in heavily trafficked school zones.

Standing in front of the school directing new students, Turner had plenty to keep him busy. Incoming sixth grader Tim McAteer rushed up the sidewalk, hoping to make it inside before the first bell rang at 7:50 a.m. Turner stopped him to make sure the new middle schooler knew where he was running.

Sixth graders making the transition from elementary to middle school have to learn new hallways, get used to a different learning environment, with a variety of new supplies, new subjects and new approaches to learning. Williamsburg sixth grader Brian Berry summed up what he would find in his new school: “new stuff.”

AT WAKEFIELD HIGH School, the first day of school is hardly a new experience—this week, Wakefield welcomed a new freshman class to its hallways for the 50th time, kicking off the school’s 50th anniversary.

Outside the high school, crowds of students met to socialize before the first bell, welcoming each other back from summer vacation, or in the case of junior Derrec Jones, summer jobs. Working during vacation didn’t leave much time to get ready for school, said Jones, and a few extra days off would have been nice.

For Wakefield sophomore Brian Goodwin, the best thing about returning to school was seeing old friends. But, like Jones, Goodwin wasn’t thrilled to be back at school already.

Kareem Awad, a junior, was more enthusiastic. Awad took some time in the summer to shop for new clothes for the school year. As of Tuesday, he was ready to think about “Getting a good education,” he said.

For Belkis Arevalo, getting a good education meant thinking ahead. Entering her senior year, Arevalo adjusted her schedule to plan for what will happen after graduation.

“I felt ready,” she said. “I’m trying out some new classes.” Arevalo was looking forward to hotel management, which she hopes will prepare her for a career.