Schools across the county open as summer draws to a close

On the first day of school Aug. 31 at Batavia Elementary, Susan Stark, far right, a kindergarden/first grade teacher, greets a student as she gets off the bus. At left, Rene Harris, a first grade teacher, greets students, from left, Zac Fuller, Maddie Dalton, Trinity Honchell, India Lowe and Karrigan Hughbanks.

On the first day of school Aug. 31 at Batavia Elementary, Susan Stark, far right, a kindergarden/first grade teacher, greets a student as she gets off the bus. At left, Rene Harris, a first grade teacher, greets students, from left, Zac Fuller, Maddie Dalton, Trinity Honchell, India Lowe and Karrigan Hughbanks.
School buses are beginning to dot the roadways, school supply aisles have been ransacked, and children can be seen wearing backpacks and new shoes, which means it is back to school for Clermont County.

Aug. 31 marked the first day for Batavia Local School District, and at Batavia Elementary, excitement and anxiety were abundant as students returned to a jam-packed school after summer vacation.

“I’m excited meeting new friends and getting to know everyone,” Cameron Rodriguez, a third grader, said about why he likes coming back to school. “I am just excited I made it this far.”

Rodriguez said being in third grade makes it a little less stressful, but he still gets nervous on the first day of school.

“Like right now I only know three or four (people), and I don’t know the teachers, so I am really nervous,” he said.

But he said those nerves go away once he begins making friends. Rodriguez, like many students, enjoys coming back to school each year. Not only to meet new friends but also to learn and prepare himself for the future.

“I want to learn things so I will get a good high school and college,” Rodriguez said.

Other students expressed similar feelings about learning.

“I like reading, doing math, science, social studies,” Robert Johnson, another third grader, said.

Johnson, who move to Batavia and was beginning his first year at the new school, said he is excited because his new teacher, Mrs. Walsh, is awesome.

Cassidy Chandler, a first-grader, said she likes learning about a lot of stuff too, especially math.

“I like school,” Chandler said. “It is so fun.”

Emotions were also running high for teachers on the first day. Much of their day is spent greeting their new students and getting things organized. From adjusting desks and helping students, to waiting for late buses and tweaking schedules, the first day is all about testing things out.

“Basically the first day is a lot of getting to know each other,” Courtney Strotman, a first grade teacher said. “We kind of introduce ourselves, we play a few little games.”

Strotman teaches in one of the mobile classrooms behind the school building. And for many of the teachers, classroom space has become a challenge this school year.

“We are bursting at the seams,” Molly Cribbet, the principals assistant, said.

The elementary school has almost 950 students enrolled this year. More than 70 more students than last year. Preschool also moved back to the elementary school this year.

“It just makes our class sizes bigger,” Principal Renee Munro said. “There is just nowhere else to go.”

Munro said this also creates more headaches with the more than 100-year-old building that is constantly in need of maintenance and repairs.

And while the building situation is not ideal, Munro said teachers and staff members have been helpful, and many put in countless hours before the first day to help prepare the building for the start of the year.

“I think our first day was extremely smooth,” Munro said. “Overall it has been a great start.”