It was definitely a memorable first day of school at Woodbridge Elementary.
Governor Larry Hogan greeted students as they walked off school buses. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon and BCPS Interim Superintendent Verletta White were all wishing students a great 2017-2018 school year outside the school’s entrance.
Meanwhile, Deborah, a Grade 5 student from Woodbridge Elementary was also outside wearing her neon green Safety Patrol sash. She was there helping make sure students knew where to go.
When three Grade 2 students arrived unsure of what classrooms they needed to be in, Deborah jumped into action.
“Don’t worry,” she told them. “I will show you where to go.”
With the permission of a Woodbridge Elementary teacher, Deborah lined the students up single file and helped them through the crowd of well-wishers. They walked into the school, past the front office, past several classrooms, and into the Grade 2 area. Deborah found where her younger classmates belonged. And she smiled as they started their first day of Grade 2.
Deborah performed her role flawlessly.
During our first day of school visits, we witnessed kindness and camaraderie. We saw a genuine willingness to help. And we saw students settling into new classrooms with new teachers.
When a Woodbridge Elementary student left his lunch on the school bus, Community Superintendent Dr. Penelope Martin-Knox was there to reassure him with a hug and a promise.
“We’ll make sure you have lunch,” she said to the student. “No problem.”
Team BCPS staff understand that a helping hand is sometimes needed on the first day. Woodbridge Elementary kindergarten students met their teachers, holding up signs with their names, on the front lawn. Once everyone was accounted for, they were led into their classrooms.
Many students had the chance to say hello to Hogan, Salmon, Kamenetz, and White. Alexander, a Grade 5 student, had an extended discussion with Gov. Hogan and then posed for a photo.
“Really cool,” he said. “Was definitely not expecting this.”
After reporting to school for the first day, students gathered for a pep rally led by Gov. Hogan.
“I want you to work hard, listen to your teachers and parents, and study as much as you can,” Hogan said to the students. “I want you to have a wonderful school year.”
While filing out of the classroom, students got to meet Ace the Bulldog, the friendly school mascot there for high-fives and fist bumps. He was there to spread enthusiasm. And that was certainly palpable as grinning and laughing students passed by him and said hello.
Just one hour into their first day of kindergarten, students in Miss Kuehn’s class at Relay Elementary already had their crayons out.
They were cheerfully creating self-portraits and sharing details about themselves with classmates sitting in their four-seat clusters.
“This is me,” said Savannah, pointing to her drawing.
It looked just like her.
Savannah’s first day of kindergarten took place during the first official day of the new Relay Elementary. The gleaming new building opened adjacent to the previous Relay Elementary building. Principal Jason Barnett led guests on a tour of the new building. So many friendly touches were incorporated to make the students feel at home.
After being greeted by Woodlawn High Navy JROTC students, Superintendent White stopped in the main lobby and looked around.
“I’m back home,” said White, a proud Woodlawn High graduate.
While visiting a science classroom, she helped students with a team-building cup-and-string activity. Four students must work together using string to raise the cup. It requires cooperation. Lots of smiles when it all pans out.
White also visited Grade 9 students in the BCPS-Community College of Baltimore County Early College Program at Woodlawn High. The inaugural Early College Program class will have the opportunity to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an Associate of Arts degree or up to 60 credits.
They were greeted at Woodlawn with a college pennant on each locker. Each room has a sign indicating where each teacher attended college.
Those educators are there to help those students reach their goals. They were literally there from Day 1, the first day of the 2017-2018 school year.