Students in most Washoe County schools returned to classes Monday as the 2018-19 school year got underway.
“I was kind of scared to come back to a new grade,” said Barrett Bales, 7, a second grader at Alice Smith Elementary School. “I met two friends and it’s not that bad.”
His classmate, Karissa Davis, said she also looks forward to making new friends. Both Bales and Davis said their favorite subject was math.
“I like math because we learn subtraction and plus,” Davis said.
The school year at Alice Smith, a multitrack year-round school, ended July 27 and required a quick turnaround to reopen Monday for the following school year.
“Within 9 days and with a lot of blood, sweat and tears for custodians and teachers, we just made a whole bunch of shifts—cleaning and making sure the environments in the classrooms were ready to welcome our new set of kids to a brand new school year,” principal Arch Ruth said.
The majority of students countywide had almost 8 weeks of summer vacation.
“Today was a smooth opening,” said Jeana Curtis, North Valleys High School principal. “It’s like we never left.”
Curtis said older student volunteers were trained during the summer on how to mentor incoming freshmen. The older and younger students had phone conversations recently and met together before school began for the campus’ 2,130 students Monday, Curtis said.
District trustee Debra Feemster, a former high school principal, said most ninth graders are scared unless they’ve been prepared by an older sibling already attending the school.
“Navigating the school is the first thing because it’s so huge compared to their earlier years,” Feemster said.
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., accompanied district staff and trustees to North Valleys. She also took questions from students who asked stuff that ranged from where she went to college to whether “nap time” should be held at the high school level.
“I like to get out and see some of the schools,” Cortez Masto said. “North Valleys is an incredible school and I wanted to walk around and talk with the principal and talk with some of the teachers and some students as well. I think we need to do more to really support our public school system and support not only our students, but our teachers and the staff who work so hard everyday.”
Top district officials began the day before the crack of dawn at the district’s Transportation Department before visiting six schools.
“School starts way before the students get here,” Superintendent Traci Davis said.
“I’ve enjoyed our visits today, especially because they showed such a great cross-section of what’s happening in our schools.”
During summer, district capital projects staff members performed repairs and renovations at a number of schools, installing boilers, air conditioning, new windows, and much more. They also performed lead and asbestos abatement at older schools.
Kindergarteners at most schools are undergoing evaluations this week and begin classes Aug. 13.