September 4, 2008

School’s Back For Mt, City Pupils

By Meadows, Robyn

Laura Zell and Erica Bareuther were freshmen when construction began at Manheim Township High School. This morning, they stepped through the new glass front entrance for the first day of their senior year.

"Now that we look back, it wasn't that bad to go through," Bareuther says of the $80.4-million renovation and expansion project.

"It looks really nice," Zell said.

But it was "annoying," both said, to hear the rattles and bangs of construction.

Several miles south, the School District of Lancaster kicked off a new school year for grades pre-K to ninth-grade today.

Officials at both Manheim Township and the School District of Lancaster reported no problems on the first day.

The last of the county's public schools say farewell to summer break on Wednesday.

Grades 10, 11 and 12 begin classes at McCaskey High School. That's also when Warwick School District students resume classes.

Outside Washington Elementary School on South Ann Street in the city, a grinning fourth-grader named Cristian Viera didn't seem to mind when his mom, Lucia Lopez, wiped crumbs from the corner of his mouth with her index finger. (He ate bread and butter and bananas for breakfast.)

There was no, "Oh, mom!"

"I am happy," he said. "Because it's my first day."

This year is kind of a big deal. He turns 10 in March.

"I can't wait until my next birthday," he said.

Kristal Figueroa started fifth grade this morning. It's her last year at Washington Elementary.

"I'm going to be nervous," she said of middle school, still a year away.

But, she added, "I love school. It's really fun to learn new things."

Nearby, literacy coach Rose Ann Sinkosky helped lost parents find the right place for their children.

Her constant smile was genuine and palpable.

"It doesn't matter how many years you've been teaching," she said. "The first day is always a big deal."

That same sentiment was shared by educators at Manheim Township High School.

Because the high school has been renovated in several phases, various portions of the school were open in the past three years while others were closed.

The school also has entire new sections. Renovations should be completed by November.

Several students - especially freshmen - got lost. One by one they approached teachers and administrators to find the location of their homeroom.

They stood in an area nicknamed "Times Square" - a spot dubbed that because "at some point in the day every student passes through it," interim principal Gary Yocum said.

But the first day for the 1,846 Manheim Township high schoolers was smooth compared with recent years.

Campus traffic patterns have shifted often to accommodate construction schedules.

But now, Manheim Township High School has three roadways leading to the school.

And, there is no way motorists can use the campus as a shortcut between Valley Road and Oregon Road.


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