Wicomico students return to public schools this week

Bennett High School Principal Steve Grudis is firmly ready to welcome teenagers to his College Avenue school for the 2014-15 year.

Bennett High School Principal Steve Grudis is firmly ready to welcome teenagers to his College Avenue school for the 2014-15 year.

Like the buckets of cold water we see being thrown around each day on social media, Wicomico public school students will soon be facing a cold reality:

School begins this week.

Elementary school students report Monday, as do freshman attending high school.

All students will be at their desks by Tuesday, and the year will be off and running.

After their first week, however, students and teacher will have a three-day weekend to regroup, as Labor Day will be celebrated.

The principals are ready. Teachers have their rooms prepared. The cafeterias are stocked, the libraries lit.

Superintendent Dr. John Fredericksen is optimistic about the 2014-2015 academic year.

“It’s going to be a good year. It feels right,” he said. “Everyone is focused in the same direction.

“The opportunity to say that every student is going to be pushed to the maximum of their abilities is a real positive,” he said.

Students making the transition to high school, going into ninth grade, will be motivated by speakers with a positive attitude.

Sara Lowery, coordinator of student life at Salisbury University, and Mark Thompson, coordinator for equity assurance and student mentoring for the Wicomico County Board of Education, will talk to students at Bennett and Wicomico high schools Monday.

“Sara is an excellent motivational speaker and founder of Empower U. We want to utilize this time to set a positive tone for the transitioning ninth-grade students,” Thompson said.

The two will be at Bennett at 8 a.m. and at Wicomico from 9 to 11 a.m.

“It’s important to start the school year on a positive note so we can reduce discipline concerns,” Thompson said.

“Last year some kids had difficulty in school so we will pair them with college students, with mentors,  to show them leadership potential and remind them they will graduate from high school someday and they have to set some goals, set some sights,” Thompson said.

He praised Lowery for her ability to motivate.

“She got her leadership skills from a homeless person. They have a sign. They write down their goals on a piece of paper or a cardboard box. They write down what they want. They know what they want and they keep saying it over and over again until someone gives them what they are looking for. When you look at a leader, it’s somebody who tells people what they want and they don’t give up,” Thompson said.

Teachers don’t give up either and they know success is the result of working closely with students.

Superintendent Fredericksen said he loves to watch them together.

“A typical teacher makes about 10,000 decisions a day. It’s the making eye contact with kids. It’s stopping at the desk at the right time and saying, ‘How are you doing, Billy?’ It’s amazing and it’s a beautiful thing to watch those interactions,” the superintendent said.

Fredericksen said that, typically, 60 teachers are replaced every year.

“We have about 1,300 teachers. That’s about 5 percent of the teaching corps, so that’s moderately low turnover. This year, we have 100 new teachers,” he said, explaining the number represents a mixture of retirements, transfers and promotions.

“That’s kind of unique. So, lots of new blood this year,” he said.

About 58 are new teachers and the rest have one to 14 years of experience.

Not only are students going to class motivated, but many will insist on a trendy wardrobe.

Jake Gordy of Salisbury will be in fourth grade at Fruitland Intermediate School wearing Under Armour shirts and shorts and, most importantly, the right shoes.

“Nike shoes and Labron James shoes. My favorite color is green,” the 9-year-said.

His socks of choice are Nike Elite Crew Basketball, in bright colors with blocks of contrasting hues up the back of the heel and ankle.

“I have tons of them,” Jake said.

Backpacks for 2014 are also vivid, in deep pinks, oranges and greens, with stars, planets, coins, even a roaring lion. Hard pencil boxes have been replaced by plush animals with zippers on their backs.

Gel pens and rolling writers are still popular, but this year Uni Ball has a new twist, the  Vision Elite pen with blended ink colors including  red and black, green and black and purple and black.

Jake doesn’t have a favorite pen or type of notebook, but he has a passion for footwear.

“Shoes,” he said, “The shoes are the most important thing.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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