Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Another Year of Learning; Students, Teachers Trade Beach for Class

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Another Year of Learning; Students, Teachers Trade Beach for Class

Article excerpt

Byline: Maggie FitzRoy, Shorelines staff writer

Even after a summer of swimming in her family's new pool, 8-year-old Allison Moore was ready to go back to school.

"I love school. I make new friends and I get to learn," the Neptune Beach Elementary third-grader said as she sat on a bench Thursday waiting for the bell to ring.

Kids and teachers traded surf boards, suntan lotion and swimming pools for backpacks, books and school bells last week as they headed back to class to begin the 2003-04 school year.

Allison wasn't the only one eager to get started. As the 7:12 a.m. bell rang that morning at Fletcher High School, freshman Brendan Bartlett hurried toward his homeroom.

The first day of school "is sort of fun and exciting," said Brendan, 14, adding that he was looking forward to his first year in high school.

"I know Fletcher is a good school and has a lot to offer," he said.

The sun was just starting to peek through the treetops as Fletcher's vice principal, Ben Titus, stood at the curb's edge and checked the next-to-last bus off the list. By 7:15, most students already were in class. As he waited for the last bus, he helped direct a few stragglers who seemed lost.

About 2,400 students were enrolled so far, said Titus, who has been with the school for three years.

"We're up there this year," he said. "That's the most since I've been here."

At Neptune Beach Elementary, third-grade teacher Carolyn Peterson and her daughter, Ashley, made their way through the parking lot hand-in-hand. At 7:45 a.m., they were among the first to arrive. It was Ashley's first day of kindergarten.

"I'm very excited," Carolyn Peterson said. "Especially since she gets to go to school here with me."

Ashley was dressed in a lime green dress with a big white bow around her ponytail. Gripping her hot pink roller backpack, she looked at the front door and smiled.

She said she was excited to go to kindergarten.

"You get to bring your backpack and new lunch box and have homework," she said.

Inside the school, about 30 Parent-Teacher Association members helped parents and kids find their way around the school. …

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