LUMBERTON — Katie Kinlaw and Anna West, best friends beginning their freshman year at Lumberton Senior High School, have mixed emotions about starting classes at a new school.
But they aren’t alone. About 25,000 other students will begin classes in 43 Robeson County schools on Monday with that familiar mix of excitement, anxiety — and nausea.
Starting their first year at a high school with more than 2,000 students has proven to be nerve-wracking for Kinlaw and West, who attended Littlefield Middle School, which has about 800 students. But amid the crowd they will at least be able to find each other in history class, which they have together with a familiar teacher.
“I’m nervous about all of the people,” Kinlaw said. “We came from a smaller school.”
Students like Kinlaw and West got a first glimpse at their schedules, classrooms and teachers at open houses held across the county on Thursday and Friday.
Brooke Terranova, along with her mother and two sisters, spent Thursday afternoon getting to know her new fifth-grade teacher at L. Gilbert Carroll Middle School. Terranova said that her favorite subject is art, but painting water colors and drawing flowers aren’t the only things she’s looking forward to.
“Getting to see my friends is what I’m excited about,” she said.
Erica Aldrich, a fourth-grade teacher at L. Gilbert Carroll Middle School, said the first day of school is also a time for teachers to reunite with their friends.
“It’s also nice to come back in August and see all of our coworkers. It makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning,” Aldrich said.
Staff have been thinking about their students, lesson plans and classrooms for weeks ahead of the first day back. Many of the school system’s 1,555 teachers and 129 support staff attended an award-show-themed orientation on Tuesday, where they were photographed by mock-paparazzi and got inspired by Baruti Kafele, a principal credited with rescuing several troubled New Jersey schools.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the kids again,” Aldrich said. “They’re so excited at the beginning of the year.”
Aldrich’s colleagues, fourth-grade teacher Sara Brown and fifth-grade science and reading teacher Matt Howington, said they are looking forward to seeing some new faces around the school.
Lumberton Senior High School’s band teacher, Laurence Harvey, said that he and his marching band students have been tuning up for a new season for almost four weeks.
“The marching band has one of the best shows that the design team has ever put together,” he said. “It’s a must see this year.”
At St. Pauls Elementary School, educators will be trying out a new way to get its 1,015 students hooked on learning — by teaching like a pirate.
Principal Robert D. Locklear said the approach was adopted from a book by Dave Burgess, which encourages educators to teach with imagination. According to Locklear, the three-tiered teaching approach focuses on improving student engagement, teacher creativity and students’ lives.
The first day back at school will also be a new experience for Tommy Lowry, who was recently named superintendent of the Public Schools of Robeson County. He said staff are looking forward to starting the new year with a couple of goals in mind.
“We have set goals for our district and we plan to reach those goals, including improving our test scores on the EOC, EOG, ACT and WorkKeys Assessment. These are just a few of the area that we look to progress,” he said. “We hope the public will be observant of our children returning to school on Monday and that they will be extra cautious for them at bus stops and where children are crossing roads.”
For information on each school, visit www.robeson.k12.nc.us and click on “schools” in the toolbar at the bottom of the window.
Gabrielle can be reached at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @news_gabbie.