Under mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the comfortable 70s, Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) opened all 66 schools on schedule today, the first day of the 2017-2018 school year. The weather was perfect for the outdoor flag-raising ceremonies many schools across the county held to launch the first day.
FCPS school bus drivers safely picked up students on 346 bus routes with a 98% on-time arrival rate, according to Transportation Director Fred Punturiero. In the first few weeks of school he expects bus drivers and students will adjust to new schedules and routines. FCPS invites parents to check the following webpage for a list of buses running later than 10 minutes: www.fcps.org/busdelay.
Parents, teachers, administrators and guests all over the county shared stories about the school system’s first post-Labor Day start in decades. Principal Kathy Campagnoli’s smiles were infectious at the brand-new Frederick High School, where students expressed delight with their spacious building. Southward at Urbana Middle, incoming 6th graders arrived to find that 7th and 8th graders had decorated the halls with encouraging messages: “Soar to Success,” “Dream Big” and “Hawks Soar.” At Gov. Thomas Johnson (TJ) High, banners with the patriot’s logo proclaim the motto, “Responsible Respectful Ready.” In northern Frederick County, Cougars arrived to a gleaming Catoctin High and freshly manicured lawn. Lucky Brunswick railroaders in the west discovered brightly painted “BHS Rocks” messages that the school’s Random Acts of Kindness Club created; the rock that Principal Mike Dillman found read, “Be the Reason” and was decorated with a yellow sunburst.
Two school communities--TJ Middle patriots and Walkersville lions--supported those reeling from the recent loss of classmates. Eighth grader Keanan Richardson passed away Friday, following a long-term illness, and 11th grader Jaggar Ezra Lawson died in a crash while skateboarding on Sunday near Walkersville’s Heritage Farm Park. Crisis teams were mobilized for both schools to support students and staff at each school and at the homes of some affected families.
Tuscarora High School’s new principal Christopher Berry enjoyed visits from Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner and FCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban. The Superintendent started her day in Titan country at THS and also visited Tuscarora Elementary, where the school hosted a Class of 2030 photo opportunity for kindergartners. Not to be outdone, Ballenger Creek Middle also featured a first-day photo booth and hosted Executive Gardner and the Superintendent, with a smiling Principal Jeneen Stewart pausing in front of a “Welcome BCMS Bulldogs” greeting. From there Superintendent Alban headed to Ballenger Creek Elementary, where sidewalk chalk spelled out, “Yay, You’re back!” and “This way to awesomeness.” In each school, the Superintendent visited with students and teachers in their classrooms.
“After a long summer, our students were so excited to be back in the classroom and back to learning,” noted Superintendent Terry Alban. “You could see and feel the enthusiasm of our students, their families, and all of our teachers and administrators. It’s going to be an awesome school year!”