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Back to the books

Newton students start new school year

Poterdale Elementary School kindergarten teacher Nedra Vincent explains to first-time student Seneca Redden, of Covington, about how his typical day will be at school. This is Vincent’s 16th year in teaching. (Staff Photos: Michelle Floyd)

Poterdale Elementary School kindergarten teacher Nedra Vincent explains to first-time student Seneca Redden, of Covington, about how his typical day will be at school. This is Vincent’s 16th year in teaching. (Staff Photos: Michelle Floyd)

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Prekindergarten students Duane Kelley, left, and Cameron Horne practice writing their names on paper as they wait for their fellow classmates to enter the classroom. Friday was the first day of the 2013-14 school year for the Newton County School System.

COVINGTON — Friday was an emotional day for thousands of Newton County students — and their parents.

Some students — and their parents — cried as they parted ways Friday morning to begin a new school year, while others were excited to see their friends in the hallways and meet their new teachers.

“I’m about to cry,” said Covington resident Tomeka Redden as she dropped off her son, Seneca, in his kindergarten class at Porterdale Elementary School for his first ever day in school.

Some parents even went back to check on their students after they dropped them off in their classrooms and then went to take care of other school business.

“We’re excited for the new school year,” said Nedra Vincent, a kindergarten teacher at Porterdale Elementary. “Being a teacher is the best — it’s hard, but it’s the best.”

Fifth-grader Tyra Hickman said she was excited to experience fifth grade before heading off to middle school next year.

“We have high expectations for all of our students, staff and parents,” said Porterdale Elementary Principal Lizzella Dodson. “We want everyone to work together to continue to improve student achievement.”

About 19,000 students were expected to enter Newton County School System’s facilities for the new school year.

“It has been a great start to the 2013-14 school year,” said NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey, who is serving in her first year as superintendent.

Fuhrey and fellow NCSS system administrators Dr. Craig Lockhart, deputy superintendent of schools, and Shannon Buff, director of secondary schools, along with school board member Eddie Johnson, cheered on bus drivers and displayed positive signs early Friday morning at the bus shop as they rolled out to pick up students.

“We had a great first day,” said Abigail Coggin, chair of the Newton County Board of Education. “As with any situation, you’ll have a few hiccups, but overall, we had no problems. We look forward to having a spectacular school year; we expect great things for the year. We’ve got leadership in place, and we’re building momentum to make Newton County schools the best.”

Fuhrey said that in an effort to troubleshoot any issues that may have surfaced at the schools, system staff also visited schools throughout the day Friday and expected to be able to make any needed adjustments over the weekend.

“We are looking forward to the best year ever,” Fuhrey added.

NCSS students weren’t the first in the state to return to schools this year — Social Circle City Schools began Wednesday, and Decatur City Schools began Thursday; at least a handful of other schools across Georgia also began the new school year last week. Rockdale County students return to schools Monday.

The first break for Newton County students and staff will be Sept. 2 for Labor Day, followed by a fall break from Oct. 7 through 11. They also will get breaks for Thanksgiving from Nov. 25 through 29 and winter holidays from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3.

After the new year, students and staff will get another break on Jan. 20 for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. A winter break is scheduled from Feb. 19 through 21, and a spring break is scheduled from April 7 through 11.

A few early release days and teacher work days also are scattered throughout the school year.

The last day of school for the 2013-14 school year for students is Friday, May 23.