PARKERSBURG- Students throughout Wood County returned to class Monday, the first day of the 2011-12 school year.
Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent of school services for Wood County Schools, called it "one of the smoothest openings" in recent years.
"Everyone is saying it's been one of our better opening days," she said. "A few schools had new students to enroll, but in general our parents have taken advantage of the past several weeks to make sure their children had a very successful first day."
Photos by Michael Erb
Students exit the bus at Williamstown Elementary School Monday morning, the first day of classes for Wood County Schools.
Woodward said there were a few hangups Monday morning. In particular, the area around Edison Middle School and Martin Elementary School saw heavy traffic delays due to two separate road construction projects.
"Parents were calling in worried about their children being late for school and asking what we were able to do," Woodward said. "It is already a crowded area to get in and out of, and the construction made it that much worse."
Despite the problems, Woodward said most schools reported one of the best opening days in recent history.
"I was at Blennerhassett Middle School this morning, and by 10:15 students were in class, assignments were being given, it was business as usual," she said. "At McKinley Elementary, by 11:15 it was a normal school day. It was like we never stopped."
A few schools saw an influx of parents signing students up for classes due to the federal school choice option. John Merritt, director of Title I and federal programs for Wood County Schools, said officials were forced to wait until about a week ago before announcing Franklin Elementary Center and Van Devender Middle School would again offer students the chance to transfer into other schools.
"The Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) data has not been made public at this point, but we were required by the state to go ahead and put out info for those schools still on improvement," he said. Letters and information were sent out to parents at those schools listing their options and which receiving schools would be available.
Merritt said transportation details, however, won't be finalized until sometime next week, as the federal regulations require the school system to create individual travel plans for each student enrolled through school choice.
Monday also marked the start of a new year for some area private schools.
Parkersburg Catholic Elementary School and Parkersburg Catholic High School welcomed both new and returning students Monday.
Principal Karen Robinson said Parkersburg Catholic High School has enrolled 173 students, about the same as last year. The school opened its new expanded parking lot, though several smaller construction projects continue around the school.
"It has been an excellent start," she said. "I was really worried this morning about how the new parking lot would affect things, but the dropoff was smooth as silk."
Robinson said the $500,000 improvement project is slated for completion at the end of September.
In the meantime, Robinson said, the students and teachers were happy to start the new school year.
"It's just business as usual at this point," she said.
Monday also marked the start date for North Christian School, Gilmer County Schools and Calhoun County Schools. Most other area school systems started classes last week. Wood County Christian School in Williamstown held its student orientation program Monday and will begin classes today.