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Summer School

Students begin 2004-05 school year before August ends.

Rina Rubio’s a high-school senior now, and everything feels different. Minutes before he walked into the building to begin his first day as a Walt Whitman High School senior, Rubio described the feeling.

“Beautiful — I feel flawless, I feel victorious,” said Rubio, shrugging off some laughter from his friends. “You’re a senior, you have to expand your vocabulary.”

Minutes later, Rina was off to first-period class, joining Montgomery County’s public-school students from kindergarten through 12th grade, who began classes on Monday, Aug. 30.

WHITMAN SENIOR Carl Ehrlich has been at school once or twice almost every day since mid-August, practicing with the football team. Carl has already received acceptance letters from four colleges, so he anticipates a fairly stress-free year.

“It’s a good feeling,” said Carl. “Most of the academic phase is over, but there’s a sad feeling because it’s all done with.”

Carl’s classmates Jackie Weinman and Jenny Presser-Kroll agreed that there’s a downside to being at the top of the heap. Now that they’re seniors, “there are no more cute boys that are older,” Presser-Kroll said, as Weinman agreed.

Whitman’s principal Alan Goodwin watched students enter just before the first period began. “I’m excited to think it’s finally starting,” said Goodwin, beginning his first year as Whitman’s principal. “You plan and you plan for this.”

High-school students attended homeroom periods early on the first day, and received locker numbers and pin numbers for their schedules. Ben OuYang, an assistant principal at Whitman, said there were likely to be minor problems with some student schedules, “but that’s to be expected.”

“JUST KNOW THAT today is going to be a good day, so relish it,” said Wayside Elementary principal Suzette Chagnon to the school staff, who gathered in the media center 45 minutes before classes began. Chagnon instructed the Wayside staff on welcoming students, asking parents to leave their children at the school door, and moving furniture into the school’s two new classrooms.

A half-hour later, buses had arrived, and kindergarteners were greeted by student security, who led the new students to their teachers.

Some parents drove their children to Wayside and walked them to the front of the school, including Hami Tofigh, whose daughter Zahra was beginning first grade.

“It’s her first day here,” Tofigh said about Zahra, who attended the Muslim Community School as a kindergartener.

Lindsey Taff was starting fifth grade at Wayside. She was no longer nervous to start school, describing herself as “anxious” instead. Remembering her first day as a kindergartener, she said, “It was fun, because I had everyone I knew in my class.”

By 9:30 a.m., the 2004-05 school year was under way at Wayside, with one student reading the morning announcements on the school’s public address system and two more raising the Maryland and U.S. flags in front of the building.