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Sterling students return to class

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 10:38 a.m. CDT
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/mkrabbenhoeft@saukvalley.com)
Brian Lobdell, a second-grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School, sings his "Good Catch Song" to his class Tuesday, the first day of classes for the Sterling School District. Students can earn "good catches" by being respectful of and responsible to their teachers and each other. Five good catches can be turned in for prizes.
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/mkrabbenhoeft@saukvalley.com)
Becki Edmondson, a kindergarten teacher at Franklin Elementary School in Sterling, reads a book to her students during their first day of classes in the 2014-15 school year. Edmonson was concerned that there could be 30 kindergartners in each class, but the addition of another section lowered the average number of kindergarten students to 23.
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/mkrabbenhoeft@saukvalley.com)
Second-grade teacher Brian Lobdell welcomes his students to the classroom on the first day of classes in the 2014-15 school year.

STERLING –The long summer break officially came to an end Monday, as students and staff returned to school in the Sterling School District.

Teachers at Franklin Elementary School were excited to return to class on Monday, knowing they would have reasonable class sizes.

“Teachers are very ecstatic,” said Amy Springman, the first-year principal at the elementary school. “There will not be 29 kindergarten students in class like we thought before.”

School officials at Franklin were looking at an average class size of 29 students in first grade, 27 students in second grade and 30 students in second grade. But in the weeks leading up to the start of school, district officials added a section of kindergarten and second-grade classes at Franklin.

With the added sections, the average class size in kindergarten dropped to 23 students; it remained 27 in first grade and dropped to 24 in second.

“Our priority is kindergarten through second grade literacy and math, so we wanted to keep those class sizes low,” said Becky Haas, the district’s director of educational services.

“It would have been crowded in here,” kindergarten teacher Becki Edmondson said inside her classroom. “We have some kids who can read coming in and some that can’t recognize their name.”

Edmondson said there would have been roughly 30 students in her classroom, had the additional sections not been added.

“Having 30 students in here would have been a real challenge,” she said. “We were pretty fearful, but thankfully they opened another section.”

With the added sections, there are a total of five kindergarten sections, four first-grade sections and five second-grade sections.

There are about 120 second-graders at the school, about 110 first-graders and about 115 kindergartners.

“Those numbers change daily, because kids move in and out,” said Tad Everett, superintendent of the school district. “I’ll give the school board the final enrollment numbers in September.”

During the brief school stay on Monday, students looked curiously around Franklin school as they met their new classmates. Some students were excited about the first day of school, while others were nervous.

Madison, a second-grader, had had some nerves as she walked into Brian Lobdell’s second-grade classroom. But as the day progressed, the nerves slowly went away.

“I was nervous, because I didn’t know what second grade was going to be about, “ said Madison, 7. “I know what second grade is going to be about. It will be about learning about all kinds of stuff.”

While some kindergarten students cried when they left their parents, some students looked forward being in school.

Lydia, 5, a kindergarten student, said she was among the latter.

“It’s going to be fun, because we get to have a new classroom and new friends,” she said with a big smile.

On her first day as principal, Springman said things went well for her.

“I’m keeping up, and I’m doing great,” she said. “I believe having a good attitude is contagious.”

Springman also said her staff at the school definitely made her feel welcome.

“My staff has been a wonderful support here, and they have welcomed me into the school,” she said. “Things are wonderful.”

Because of the new classrooms, Springman said art and music programs had to be changed. Students will now have art in their classroom, and music will be housed in a pre-kindergarten classroom.

“We are not doing away with art and music; we will just have them in different locations,” Springman said. “We are trying to think outside the box, and we are trying to find a spot for everything.”

Overall, Everett said things went well around the district on the first day of classes.

“We had a phenomenal first day,” he said. “Things went smoothly.”

Everett saw the first day of school firsthand. He visited each school in the district.

“It was good to see the students’ faces again,” Everett said. “Everyone is just excited to be back in school.”

Monday was only a half day of school. Today is the first full day in the district.

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