Miami Trace, Washington C.H. principals: New school year gets off to ‘smooth’ beginning

The students of Miami Trace Local Schools and Washington Court House City Schools resumed classes on Wednesday and the principal from each school said the 2017-18 year got off to a smooth start.

With an early morning start, students in grades kindergarten through 12th attended the first day of school on Wednesday. Some students, such as middle and high school kids, started classes around 7:30 a.m., but for some other students, such as Cherry Hill Primary kids, testing and orientation began on Wednesday. Maggie Lyons, assistant principal at Cherry Hill Primary, said they are excited to start the preschool kids on Monday for the second year as well as get the entire school ready for this year.

“We do a stagger start for our young kiddos,” Lyons said. “First and second grade have two days of testing and it is also parent orientation. So parents come in and do an orientation one-on-one with the teacher, the student comes in as well and we do a quick reading assessment, and then first and second all will come on Friday for their first day. For kindergarten we stagger a little bit longer, so they have four days of testing. They have orientation with parents and teachers…we are going to be administering the KRA state assessment during that time and then next Tuesday half of the kindergarten will come, and then on Wednesday the other half will come. Finally on Thursday, all kindergarten will be in the building. We are excited to start a new school year with a new superintendent and hope to have the best year.”

Tom Bailey was named the new Washington City Schools superintendent over the summer.

Ryan Davis, principal at Miami Trace Elementary, and Nicole Fatica-Mavis, the pre-k through second grade assistant principal, said that their morning went incredibly smooth and teachers even had the opportunity to greet kids as they were getting off of the bus.

“We want to wish all the students a great year in everything they do both here at the elementary school and any other extracurricular activities,” Davis said. “We are really excited to have everyone back. The staff is also excited and I think we are ready to go.”

Over at Belle Aire Intermediate, classes started bright and early around 8 a.m. with a new principal, Jeff Conroy. Conroy worked for Miami Trace Local Schools in many capacities for around 28 years, including head football coach, middle school principal and many more positions.

“We had a great opening day here,” Conroy said. “I think everyone listened when we talked at our open house about the drop off and the big thing about our drop was to make sure the kids got into our building safely. I think our parents did an outstanding job of doing that. Our teachers were well prepared and ready for the kids, so we are really excited. Now it is about getting those routines and making sure we are consistent with getting them in the door each morning.”

Jason Binegar, principal at Miami Trace Middle School, said the morning was an easy transition. With assistant principal Debbie Southward greeting the students arriving on buses in the back, and Binegar meeting with parents who chose to drop students off in the front, they said the morning went well.

“Everything seemed to go really smooth this morning,” Binegar said. “Of course the sixth grade is the class that can be a little more difficult because they are coming from the elementary school. So they are a little more apprehensive, but it went well. The way we do it, we have all of the sixth grade go into the cafeteria and the seventh and eighth grade in the gym. From there they go to home room, but the teachers will come in and call out their class, so if there is any confusion it cuts down on that and helps them get the students to their home room.”

The Washington Middle School also started nice and smooth this morning, and principal Eric Wayne thanked parents for their patience and assistance getting children into the school safely on Wednesday.

“Students are a little nervous today, but are very enthusiastic about getting back to school,” Wayne said. “We have had a fresh start and we are looking forward to a new year with many opportunities to engage and grow our kids. It has been a very good start and we are excited about that. We appreciate the parents patience in the parking lot, they did a wonderful job of following directions and making sure our kids got to school safe. I appreciate the staff and all of their help this morning in getting kids in the building and getting them where they were going. It really helped to alleviate some of that nervousness. Great job staff.”

At the high school level, both Miami Trace and Washington principals said they had an easy start to the year. For Miami Trace, principal Rob Enochs said that they had a great start. He said it is an exciting time for the school as they started off their “One to One” Initiative with every kid having a laptop.

“Just about every kid now has a laptop in their possession and I think we are going to see a lot of benefits from that,” Enochs said. “The kids are ready. For me the biggest thing is getting our freshmen used to the changes and they are a little wide-eyed, but they get it figured out pretty quick. Everything went well though and they adapt quickly. I think our sophomore, juniors and seniors do a nice job of assisting them, making sure they know what is going on also. We are looking forward to another good year here at Miami Trace, and like I said, I think we have a lot of great things going on right now with our ‘One to One’ Initiative and getting it off the ground. We are making sure we are using technology to its fullest to assist us in educating kids. It is something for our staff to get used to as well. We know in today’s world that we need to be up-to-date and ready to educate kids in the 21st century.”

Enochs also commented on the new scoreboard that was broadcasting a welcome back message to students on Wednesday. He said it’s exciting to see progress on the new school and that they have already started to make some changes to help the transition become even smoother. Among these changes are scheduling for lunch, which is now more reflective of how lunch will be handled in the new building, which is scheduled to open in January 2019. Overall, Enochs said the whole school is excited to get into the year.

Washington High School Principal Tracey Rose faced a busy, but overall significantly easier, start to the year. Rose utilized the all-call system to notify student drivers several days ago about the parking protocol for the high school, which he said made the process much more smooth. Rose also said that he was proud of the bus drivers and others in the transportation department as they were able to run the routes and get all students riding the bus to school on time.

“We had no one late today and for some of them being the first time they are running the routes that is impressive,” Rose said. “We always go to home room on the first day to pass forms out and all of that. What may look a little chaotic to us, because it is a little different than a normal day, but the students just roll with it. They have done a great job, the only thing that is a concern is lunch, since it is a little different at the high school. At the middle school they are kind of led along that, but at the high school it is a little different, but they did a wonderful job. We fed 634 kids today in and out in three lunches. My hat’s off to the cafeteria and custodial staff for making sure everything went as smooth as possible.”

Rose said that just an hour from the end of the first day, everything seemingly went great, but he would breathe a sigh of relief once they got each student on the bus and out of the parking lot on the way home. Finally, Rose said he was proud of the way upperclassmen took charge not only on the first day, but also during the freshmen orientation. He said he even saw an upperclassman lead a lost freshmen to their lunch table to join them. Rose said the staff and administration were all looking forward to working with parents, students and the community to help prepare the next generation of adults for life out of school.

Check with the Record-Herald for more coverage as students return back to school throughout the coming weeks.

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The Miami Trace Local Schools and Washington Court House City Schools returned to the classroom Wednesday for the 2017-18 school year. Miami Trace Elementary School student James Bethel was assisted off the bus by both bus driver Kathy Hutchins (not pictured) and paraprofessional for special needs, Mary Ann Victor. Miami Trace Local Schools and Washington Court House City Schools returned to the classroom Wednesday for the 2017-18 school year. Miami Trace Elementary School student James Bethel was assisted off the bus by both bus driver Kathy Hutchins (not pictured) and paraprofessional for special needs, Mary Ann Victor.
MT, WCH principals: ‘Smooth’ beginning to new year

By Martin Graham

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy