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Getting a head start

Published on -8/12/2014, 10:49 AM

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By Michael Strand

The Salina Journal

New students, new teachers prepare for a new school year

Today is the first day of school for most students in the Salina School District, but at least a few got a head start Monday.

Malek Dungan, a sixth-grader at Salina South Middle School, was waiting by his sister Amaya's locker while she decorated the interior with black-and-white wrapping paper.

Lights on, slow down

-- WHAT: The public school year starts today, and Salina police will begin enforcing school zone speed limits.

-- SLOW DOWN: Watch for children, school buses and reduced speed limits at school crossings.

-- LOOK FOR BUSES: State law requires drivers in both directions to stop when a school bus extends its "stop" sign.

Vehicles also must yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks.

"I came in to do my locker, and so did she," Malek said. "I brought some tissues, paper and my bookbag, and put it all in there."

It also gave him a chance to find his locker and make sure he knew how to work the combination, while not under the stress of the first day of middle school.

"It's the smart thing to do -- so you don't have to do everything on the same day," Malek said.

"It's just common sense."

Amaya, who is a seventh-grader, said she didn't come in and prepare a day early when she was a sixth-grader.

"I didn't know we could," she said. "It's a good idea."

Just a few feet away, seventh-grader Alyssa Jared was decorating a friend's locker and leaving a note; her friend's locker was already stocked.

Alyssa explained that many students bring some stuff to school a few days beforehand so they don't have to carry everything in on that hectic first day.

"She accidentally sent me her combination," Alyssa said. "So I told her I was going to come decorate it today."

New teachers, too

Not all of the newbies at South Middle School are sixth-graders; some are teachers, as well.

Among them is Kimberly Rickels, who is teaching sixth-grade reading and math.

Rickels grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., earned her education degree at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and moved to Salina last year for her student teaching at Cottonwood Elementary School. Her fiance is a student at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Salina.

"I got my classroom two months ago, and I've been in quite a bit, decorating and getting everything set up," she said.

"I like using bright colors."

"My student teaching at Cottonwood was great, and I feel like I'm prepared," she said. "But at the same time, being a first-year teacher, I feel like I'm not."

Both starting new

Over the summer, Rickels said, she's met six or seven of her students and their families.

"A lot of them told me they were nervous about being in middle school -- and I tell them I am, too," she said.

"We're both starting something new.

(c)2014 The Salina Journal

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