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Newton students return to schools

Staff PHoto: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
Four-year-old Jose Garcia hugs mom Ofelia at West Newton Elementary before his first day with Pre-K teacher Patricia McGinnis, who has taught for almost 30 years, and paraprofessional Annie Chandler. School Pricipal Takila Curry said the school saw lots of traffic on the first day but it was the smoothest day in four years.

Staff PHoto: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Four-year-old Jose Garcia hugs mom Ofelia at West Newton Elementary before his first day with Pre-K teacher Patricia McGinnis, who has taught for almost 30 years, and paraprofessional Annie Chandler. School Pricipal Takila Curry said the school saw lots of traffic on the first day but it was the smoothest day in four years.

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Prekindergartener Haily Cruz-Gasga wasn't too happy about being left in her classroom at West Newton Elementary School on Friday, but teacher Jane White and paraprofessional Debra Parks helped her get settled in to her first day of school

COVINGTON -- Students traded in their video games and naps for notebooks and homework this week.

Newton County schools were among a handful of school systems in the metro Atlanta area to begin the school year on Friday, along with Social Circle and some other districts. But they weren't the first -- Rockdale County Public Schools began the school year Monday, and students in Decatur and Buford also began school this week. Gwinnett County schools will reopen to students on Monday, and Walton County Schools begin the school year Aug. 13.

"In this new 2012-13 school year, we look forward to continued improvement of our student learning outcomes," said Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews in a staff email Friday afternoon. "We are confident that our teachers and administrators are the right combination for continued progress."

Teachers and administrators welcomed about 19,000 students on Friday.

"We enjoyed a smooth first day of school with just a very few complaints given our thousands of customers," Mathews said. "Teachers were ready. Principals were ready. And our support personnel did their usual good job on this first day."

No new schools opened this year, but the program at the Newton College & Career Academy expanded after opening in April. Construction crews also continued work on the replacement Newton High School, which will be ready for next school year.