There are five speed bumps on the way to the parking lot of Skyview Elementary School. Parents bringing children to the first day of Bibb County school Monday found either smooth sailing or an emotionally rocky road.
Eric Rogers tried to keep his emotions in check as he brought his eldest son, Tyler, to a prekindergarten classroom.
Its sad. Time goes by so fast, Rogers said as he watched his wife, Samantha, taking pictures of Tyler. Im hanging in there. As long as she dont tear up, Ill be good.
Steve Smith, Bibb Countys interim school superintendent, said he hadnt heard of any major problems Monday. Rutland High and middle schools had unexpectedly heavy attendance and will be among the schools getting re-evaluated for a share of as many as 20 new teachers Smith could hire to deal with overcrowding.
Among Mondays problems, though, was a Taylor Elementary School student who climbed into a tree in the morning and wouldnt come down until about 10:30, when his parents talked him down.
Ive heard of a lot of cats getting into trees, but this is the first student Id heard of, said Smith, whod been making his own tour of schools Monday.
Other people made their own rounds. A relentlessly upbeat Kimberly Jones said her twins, Aaliya and Taylor, were excited to start first grade at Skyview, where they went after dropping off their siblings at Hutchings Career Center and Rutland Middle.
Jones, a night nurse, said her youngest children had been keeping late nights, but Monday was the first morning theyd wanted to get going in the morning. She was excited, too.
This is my favorite day: Everyone looks fresh and neat. By the middle of the year, were all going to be dragging. But theres a freshness in the air, she said.
Some students and parents clustered outside the school, waiting for an 8 a.m. bell to ring and the doors to open.
Yay! exclaimed Brandon Durden, who is starting his third year at Skyview. He headed to his classroom with his twin brother, Dylan, by his side.
Other families had a mix of emotions. Kirsten Johnson was quiet on the way into her first day as a prekindergartner, clad in a pink shirt and a polka-dot hair bow, with a pink backpack. Her brother Joshua, on the other hand, exclaimed, It feels good to be back! as their car arrived at the school, mother Chandler Johnson said. She clutched bags of paper towels and facial tissues to bring to school.
For some children, Bibb Countys school uniform policy caused consternation. Cora Henley, who was starting kindergarten, displayed her individuality, wearing pink shoes with silver and black sparkles to carry her to Norma Lawrences class.
I think shes very good, Henley declared.
Stephanie Hartley, a school system spokeswoman, said there were reports of scattered problems with technology, air conditioning and students whose registration or address changes hadnt been delivered to the new school.
All in all, pretty smooth, Hartley said.
Smith said during a news conference at Southwest High School that he saw enthusiasm everywhere.
Everybody seems to be excited about being here -- the students, the parents that Ive seen, the administrators and the teachers. They all seem to be excited about being at school. I dont know if its parents are glad that they can give the children back to the care of the schools or what, they all seem excited about being here that first day, Smith said. Im very impressed with the organization of the schools that Ive been in.
Southwest Highs new principal, Tanzy Kilcrease, said were setting the expectations from day one at her school, with an emphasis on college readiness and expectations for graduation. In an earlier year, the school had a 38-percent graduation rate. Kilcrease said she warned her students they have no choice but to graduate.
That message was heard loud and clear by sophomore Braxton Williams, who said every student should graduate on time -- and hell walk with the Class of 2016.
Bibb County schools had originally been scheduled to start last week, when some other Middle Georgia systems began. Jones and Laurens County students are scheduled to return to school Tuesday, followed by Bleckley County students on Wednesday.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.