Frenship schools kick off new year

New school clothes and supplies were in abundance as pre-kindergarteners through seniors in the Frenship Independent School District started school Monday, but some of the middle school students started the year in a brand new building.

At Heritage Middle School, students, teachers and Principal Greg Hernandez were in agreement the first day of school in the new building went smoothly.

“We feel like we’ve been in existence, like we’ve done this before,” said Hernandez. “The staff, they have been so easy to work with.”

Hernandez, who had recently been planning for up to 700 students, said 646 students arrived for the first day of classes at HMS.

“We’re anticipating just a few more, probably tomorrow,” said Hernandez. But he said some of the 50-odd expected students who did not show may have just moved away.

“I think all the classes are manageable,” he said. Just one of the classes had more than 30 students in it. Since it is a pre-advanced placement class, where classroom behavior standards are higher, he said he thinks it will be OK.

Outside the school, traffic was heavy both before and after school. Hernandez said he hopes traffic patterns will settle down soon, but noted that most of the students have parents arriving to drop them off and pick them up. Only five buses lined up outside the school to take students home.

Jamie Bowlin, a seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher who was at Terra Vista Middle School last year, said students came in prepared, enthusiastic and ready to start learning.

“You could just tell they were ready to come back,” she said.

She said she was pretty excited about teaching in a new building, even though TVMS is hardly old.

“It was a neat feeling today to be a part of a school opening for the first time,” said Bowlin.

Del Ryan, a sixth-grade science teacher who was at Westwind Elementary School last year, said he enjoyed last year’s fifth-graders so much, he decided to apply to move to HMS.

“I’m new to middle school,” he said. Along with the sixth-graders, he is changing classes more often.

“They’re just moving more,” he said of the students. Their biggest worry is probably learning to open their lockers, he said, but he expects they will master that in the first week.

“I saw lots of smiles on sixth-graders’ faces,” he said, noting that they got over being nervous quickly.

The nice thing about middle school, he said, is that the students require less guidance than in elementary school, when they had to line up to move through the halls.

He said the day was structured and organized.

The entrance to HMS was almost a no-parent zone, with students congregating just outside the school doors as parents waited patiently in cars lining 73rd Street.

But as they got to their parents’ vehicles, some of the students were happy to talk about their first day.

Matthew Vasquez, whose family just moved back to Lubbock after several years in Austin, said he was happy to be in the new school. As an eighth-grader, he and his classmates are slightly outnumbered by underclass sixth- and seventh-graders. Eighth-graders at Frenship Middle School and TVMS were given the option to finish out their middle school years at those schools if they wished, and many did.

But Vasquez said the smaller class size of the eighth-grade was actually nice.

“It was pretty good actually,” Vasquez said of his first day, noting that he likes his teachers, Assistant Principal Gina Laughlin and fellow students.

Another eighth-grader, Allison Nuss, said she also enjoyed her first day.

“It seemed like a lot more fun, going to a new school,” she said of her reasons for moving to HMS from FMS. Nuss said her friends decided to move to HMS, and her younger sister is there, too.

Sixty-two blocks north of HMS, students were welcomed into North Ridge Elementary School, Frenship’s largest elementary school with 807 students in attendance Monday.

Many students at the elementary school were still walked to classes by moms and dads. Shortly after school started, the students were whisked into the school cafeteria for an assembly welcoming them.

The students watched a video of teachers cheering for them as they came into school, which Principal Cheryl Booher explained was supposed to be seen through a child’s eyes. At the end of the video, teachers in the cafeteria jumped up and did a choreographed dance. Older students in the room were enthusiastic about the cheery dance, but younger students responded with wide eyes, and one of the youngest burst into tears.

Booher and Assistant Principal Dana Ketchersid stood in the entryway to the cafeteria, making a welcoming comment to each student as they left the assembly and headed back to their classrooms.

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