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School year off to smooth start
Students greeted by teachers, volunteers
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Day One volunteer Trent Long greets students and hands each a pencil on the first day of school at Frank Long Elementary. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge

The bell signaling the first day of the 2013-14 academic year rang Wednesday, and students toting backpacks returned to Liberty County School System’s schools.
“I’m so excited. I’m ready to do a line dance,” said Sheila Smith, whose twin boys, George and Kaden, began kindergarten at Frank Long Elementary School this week.
“I’m also a little nervous because they’re going to be in separate rooms. It’s the first time they’ve been apart.”
Smith promised her sons she would take them to McDonald’s for ice cream if they behaved and did as their teacher told them on their first day.
“It’s all brand-new,” said Amanda Suguitan, whose daughter, Alana, started kindergarten at Frank Long on Wednesday. “We’re living in a new town, going to a new school.”
Frank Long Elementary School fourth-grader Kaira Villanueva said she was happy to return to the classroom.
“I like science,” Kaira said, standing next to her father, Nelson Villanueva. “I like learning about animals.”
Principals, teachers, school workers and volunteers stood at school entryways to welcome first-time and returning students. Other teachers and staffers helped children step off school buses or alight from cars in the schools’ drop-off lanes. Faculty directed children to their classrooms and responded to parents’ concerns.
“It was nice to see all of our students’ bright and shining faces at open house,” Frank Long Elementary School Principal Judy Hellgren said. “The beginning of school is always exciting. However, it may be difficult to transition back into the school year. Having a constant routine will help students adjust and be successful throughout the school year. We are looking forward to another great year at FLE.”
“Everybody is excited about the first day of school,” Lewis Frasier Middle School Principal Jermaine Williams said. “Our (staff) motto is, ‘service with a smile.’”
Williams said the school strives to serve students, parents and community leaders.
Both Williams and Hellgren had friendly “Day One” volunteers helping to make the start of their students’ first day back a positive one. The national “Day One” initiative is a way to show students support. “Day One” volunteer Trent Long greeted students and handed out pencils at Frank Long Elementary School on Wednesday.
Long’s wife, Sharon Long, teaches at Frank Long Elementary. Long owns TR Long Engineering, a consulting en-gineering firm in Hinesville.
Williams said he recruited retired Lewis Frasier Middle School teachers and some former students, now grown, for the “Day One” initiative. He said they all were happy to participate. In addition to adult “Day One” volunteers, Lewis Frasier cheerleaders perked up their classmates with peppy cheers. Williams said the cheerleaders’ advisor, Lewis Frasier math teacher Freda Muhammad, arranged for the cheerleading team to arrive early on day one.
“I’m really proud of them. They’ve done a great job,” Williams said.
The system also welcomed back faculty and school employees, and thanked them for the job they do, during a system-wide convocation Tuesday. The pep-rally-like event was held to motivate teachers and staff prior to the first day of school.
Liberty County School Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee also asked for parents’ continued support in an open letter to the school system dated Aug. 1. The letter is posted on the system’s website.
“I look forward to a productive year of academic achievement for LCSS students, and I encourage all family members to be active in the learning process,” Lee wrote. “Students are more highly motivated when they know that learning is valued by schools, families and the community in partnership.”

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