Local News

Enrollment up on first day of class

SEBRING - A minor school bus accident, with no injuries, caused some Hill-Gustat Middle School students to be late on the first day of school that otherwise was a good start for the School Board of Highlands County. The "little accident" occurred in the Valerie Boulevard area of Sebring, said District Transportation Director David Solomon. A car was parked adjacent to a basketball hoop on a poll, he explained. The driver went around the poll while watching the car, but misjudged the basket at the top of the poll, which was protruding over the road. "It broke the mirror on the passenger side of the bus; no major damage; no kids hurt," Solomon said. Another bus was called to pickup the students from the damaged bus. Solomon said the police believe the resident was at fault for having the basket protruding out into the road.
"We have a few late buses," he said. "It's just everyone getting used to the routine more than anything else." The first-day student enrollment of 11,610 represents an increase of 62 students compared to a year ago. That marks two consecutive years of increases. The 2012 first-day enrollment of 11,548 was an increase of 73 students over 2011. Lake Placid Elementary continues to be a supersized elementary school increasing from 794 last year to 815 students this year. Only Sebring High (1,593) and Avon Park High (894) had a larger enrollment on the first day of school. Superintendent Wally Cox said: "Everything went pretty well at all our school. So far so good." He was at the Kindergarten Learning Center in the morning and later visited Memorial Elementary. Cox said he had received reports from every school. At the Kindergarten Learning Center, some of the little ones were excited about a new routine and attending school while others were shy or apprehensive. "I'm in school now," a boy said firmly after getting off the bus at the KLC. Bus monitor Jamie Brewer tried to comfort a quiet girl who was a bit frightened about her first day of school. Brewer got off the bus carrying the girl on her shoulder. "You are going to have a great day and have so much fun. Come on little one you can handle it. You can do all kinds of things today," Brewer said to the child as she carried her into the school. Shannon Bennett and her daughter, Colton, were among the early arriving parents and students who filled the cafeteria to wait for the classrooms to open. What are she going to be doing in school today? Colton replied: "I don't know." Shannon prompted her daughter, "You're in kindergarten now. What do you think you do in kindergarten." Colton replied, "Play outside." When her mother asked if she was going to learn anything, Colton said, "reading and letters." Christina Forest wanted to make sure her twins, Victor and Maximus, made it OK on the bus trip. She saw them off at the bus stop for a bus going to Cracker Trail Elementary. Then she waited for their arrival at the Kindergarten Learning Center, but the shuttle bus from Cracker Trail was running late. A staff member told Forest they are waiting on two more buses. "Cool, cool, OK," Forest said. "These are my first children and their first time and I know I won't be able to do this everyday. They have been wanting to ride the bus ever since they knew what a school bus was." The Fred Wild Elementary shuttle bus arrived about eight minutes after the 7:40 a.m. tardy bell followed by the Cracker Trail Elementary shuttle bus. Forest was happy to see her sons getting off the bus from Cracker Trail Elementary. Physical Education paraprofessional Brittany Lockhart, stationed at one of the school's front doors, directed parents to the classrooms. She said the physical education classes will be held inside this week in a vacant classroom, "to control the chaos." Next week they will start going outside for P.E. mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826