July 25, 2008

School Open Houses Mark Summer’s End in Manatee County, Fla.

By Tiffany St. Martin, The Bradenton Herald, Fla.

Jul. 24--Sharri Cagle's three children are looking forward to going back to school, but she has mixed feelings.

Logan will be in fourth grade, Lindsey third and Colin pre-kindergarten at Freedom Elementary, which has open houses Aug. 14 and kindergarten orientation Aug. 12.

Central High's open house is Aug. 5, with most Manatee schools having theirs the week of Aug. 11.

Open houses are most important for students attending a school for the first time and their parents, said schools spokeswoman Margi Nanney. It gives them a chance to familiarize themselves with the school, including its layout, faculty and administrators.

Students can learn about extracurricular activities schools offer, and parents can receive information on special schedules like early-release Wednesdays and important dates for the school year.

The first day of school is Aug. 18, and district projections as of Tuesday show 42,370 students going to school in Manatee County for 2008-09.

That number indicates growth of about 350 students, Nanney said, but the district won't know its enrollment for sure until a count done on the 10th day of school.

In preparation for the year, the Cagles will go back-to-school shopping. The kids get to pick out their school supplies, and they help out their teachers by getting things for their classrooms. They will find out who their teachers are the week before the first day of school.

Logan, Lindsey and Colin have spent the summer writing in journals and working in workbooks that review what they learned last year.

The family will to get in a last-minute vacation or fun activities before school starts, though the fun already has begun for Cagle, president of Freedom's PTO.

By the time school starts, the PTO will have pulled off six events, including an Aug. 2 rummage sale to benefit the school, a breakfast for the school's teachers and a back-to-school spaghetti night.

"It's really not a break for us," Cagle said of the summer.


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