While opening day began smoothly enough Wednesday, two local schools were dismissed at noon due to a power outage.
“It was a very interesting first day,” commented Mount Airy Schools Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little about the early dismissal of Tharrington Primary School and Mount Airy Middle School. He said that school officials found out at about 10:30 a.m. about the outage and contacted Duke Energy Corporation.
Little said the company told officials the estimated repairs could take until 1:30 p.m., prompting the decision to close the schools. He said Duke Energy told him 13,000 customers were affected by the outage.
Duke Energy spokesperson Tom Shiel said technicians were not able to determine the cause of the outage and repairs were finished by noon. He said the two circuits initially involved 3,000 customers. He said once the two circuits had been repaired, the outage remained for 400 customers. Additional repairs brought service back to those customers a short time later.
“I was pleased with the response. Our staff was prepared to have students for the full day, of course, at those schools but students and staff rose to the occasion and handled the situation well,” added Little. “Adjustments have been made and we are ready for a great second day.”
Little said that the school cafeterias were able to feed students in spite of the outage. Little said after parents were contacted, students were taken home on the schools’ buses or other transportation arrangements were made.
Elsewhere in local schools, the day began with an apparent air of the routine amidst the roll out of the Common Core Curriculum. Smiling students trooped off school buses at Jones Intermediate School and cars circled around the drop off area with parents giving hugs and directions to children.
“I’m really looking forward to being in show choir,” said Jones third-grader Ethan Venable. He said he had been looking forward to getting back to school, even though he was a little nervous. Third-grader Tariq Moore broke out in a broad grin as he got off the bus. He described his summertime in one word … “sweet!”
Parent Laurel Jessup represented the angst experienced by some parents.
“I just dropped him (her son Tavian) off and he didn’t even look back,” said Jessup as her eyes brimmed with tears. “He gave me a hug and a kiss.” She said she believed he was being brave to support his mother.
It has been a busy summer for local educators. Sometimes all of the efforts haven’t been official business. East Surry High School science teachers all attended the wedding of colleague Priscilla Shore this summer. Science teacher Deborah Cooper, for instance, made the wedding dress for Jessup.
Shore sandwiched the ceremony between other duties including an Advanced Biology Curriculum Workshop at UNC-Asheville, curriculum changes related to Common Core and personal development activities such as learning the Haiku software that is being used for the county system’s curriculum and class information.
Similar duties were shared by biology teacher Jon Carpenter, who obtained his certification in general science and trained at N.C. State in rewriting test questions so fellow teachers can use the new “Class Scape” assessment system to keep students on track with learning goals. Chemistry teacher Sherie Johnson re-wrote curriculum for the school as well.
East senior Elizabeth Shelton returns after participating in the Tarheel Girls State program this summer. She said it was exciting to set up and run a model state legislature. She served as a lobbyist for the model House of Representatives.
“I got no sleep but I learned so much,” said Shelton. “I‘m really looking forward to ‘rocking’ being a senior. I’m going to have a blast and not get into any trouble!”
White Plains Elementary School Principal Sandra Scott summed up the product of many local teachers’ and staff efforts.
“Here, staff is in place. As school opens, everything is in place. We are in business from day one, minute one,” said Scott. “Anyone who needs to see what it’s about needs to come into school the first day. Students are so excited to be back.”
Scott also said the school was taking to heart the line from the song “Man in the Mirror” and embracing change.
“We don’t like change, but we thrive on it,” said Scott. “We will be doing a lot of (role) ‘modeling’ at first. Change starts with us for a better tomorrow. The kids are what we are here for. To see them brings joy. That’s what it’s all about.”
She also praised the White Plains’ community support for the school and the support.
“When we are all learning together at the same time, that eliminates fear,” said Scott. “It’s new to everyone.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.