Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Educators Are Confident School Year Will Be Good One; the First Day of Classes Was Mostly Quiet, but Nease Had a Crowd

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Educators Are Confident School Year Will Be Good One; the First Day of Classes Was Mostly Quiet, but Nease Had a Crowd

Article excerpt

Byline: MAGGIE FITZROY

Hanging out as a "beach bum" this summer, Dylan Mainville, 12, said it was "cool" to go back to school.

"I missed it," the Landrum Middle School seventh-grader said Friday on his first day back. "I missed thinking."

When the 2006-07 school year began last week for St. Johns County students, Dylan and thousands of kids in Ponte Vedra Beach said goodbye to carefree days and hello to teachers, books and homework.

Piling onto school buses, lugging backpacks, greeting friends in the hallway, settling down at their desks, they were ready to go.

Dylan smiled in the midst of it all.

"I missed being artistic," he said. "I missed science. I missed figuring stuff out."

While not all students were as enthusiastic as Dylan, the first day went well at Landrum and at Ponte Vedra Palm Valley Elementary and Rawlings Elementary Schools, Ocean Palms Elementary and Nease High School.

As with every school year, there were some challenges and some changes.

For the first time, side-by-side Ponte Vedra Palm Valley Elementary and Rawlings Elementary Schools are operating as one school under one principal, Kathleen Furness.

Ocean Palms has a new assistant principal, Sue Smith.

Landrum Middle has a new principal, Pherbia Engdahl, and a new assistant principal, Kelly Jacobson.

Nease began the year with many more students than expected. Principal Linda Thomson said they ended the year last year with 1,850, then expected 1,975 this year; but 2,121 showed up the first day.

And construction on Palm Valley Road delayed some buses. Landrum extended homeroom for 15 minutes because the last bus didn't arrive until eight minutes after the 9 a.m. bell.

But Furness said she was pleased with the start and expects a good year.

"We're off to a very smooth and focused beginning," she said as she made the rounds of classrooms. …

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