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August 27. 2013 12:59AM

School year off to smooth start in Derry

DERRY — A new school year began Monday throughout the Derry School District as principals reported a smooth and energetic transition from summer break to classes.“The morning arrival of our kids was fantastic,” said South Range Elementary School Principal Matthew Olsen. “It’s nice to see the smiling, eager faces coming to school. The school is not alive until the kids come back.”

A total of 365 children in kindergarten through fifth grade are enrolled in the school, Olsen said.

As he does at the start of each school day, Olsen began at 8:30 a.m. with an opening announcement that included some school news and recognition of birthdays. It was a fourth-grader’s birthday, and Olsen announced her name over the intercom.

His first talk of the new school year centered on character and what it means to be a good citizen. A schoolwide assembly is planned for Thursday.

“We really try to instill good, wholesome values,” Olsen said, adding “It’s a great community school.”

Gilbert H. Hood Middle School’s approximately 725 students also made an orderly transition back to school, said Principal Austin Garofalo, who added that the fairly mild conditions helped with the start of classes.

“At this time of year, it helps when the weather cooperates,” Garofalo said.” I think the kids kind of enjoyed coming back on a Monday. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood and glad to see friends back.”

Buses ran on time and there were no incidents to report at the school for grades six through eight, said Garofalo, crediting First Union, the bus company, with a great on-time performance.

“If the rest of the year goes this smoothly, we’ll be in great shape,” Garofalo said.

At Ernest P. Barka Elementary, the district’s largest elementary school with about 600 students, Principal Daniel LaFleur echoed the same theme as he said the transition also went well.

“We just completed dismissal a few minutes ago and everything went amazingly well for the first day of school,” LaFleur said.

Administrators went into the school’s classrooms to personally welcome students back, said LaFleur, who toured the classes with Assistant Principal Stephanie Pike.

“The more you’re positive with children, the more they emulate those behaviors,” LaFleur said.


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