With summer's end, local schools prepare to open

Summer started a week early this year because there were no snow days, but kids' favorite season is speeding to a quick end. Families are already buying back-to-school supplies and kids are running out of time to finish their summer reading.

Hereford Zone public schools and Our Lady of Grace Catholic School begin Aug. 27. St. James Academy opens its doors Sept. 5.

Here's a rundown on highlights at some local schools:

Hereford High will open with 1,295 students, about 110 fewer students than last year, said Principal Andrew Last. The school remains over capacity and students will use all seven trailers located in the parking lot. The science department is offering three marine biology courses for the first time.

The new water tower should be functioning and the old tower taken down by the first week of school. Renovations are not scheduled to begin until the spring of 2013.

Ninth-grade students can tour the building and find their classrooms on Aug. 22 at 9 a.m.

Hereford Middle will welcome 950 students, about the same number as last year. The school continues to offer Chinese language classes for students in grades seven and eight. Hereford's test scores in the Maryland School Assessment tests were the highest among middle schools in Baltimore County, said Principal Cathy Walrod.

Incoming sixth-graders and their parents are invited to visit the school on Aug. 23 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Fifth District Elementary in Upperco will open with about 274 students, about the same as last year. Students get to see their classroom and visit their teachers on Aug. 24 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

"We're a small school with a big heart," said Principal Bob Findley.

Jacksonville Elementary's enrollment is projected to be 625 this year, but it's already 620 and climbing, said Principal Debbie Glinowiecki. She said this will be the first time in more than 14 years that every classroom will be used.

Each class will have an audiovisual cart with a document camera, a projector and a system that turns a whiteboard into an interactive board.

Kids can visit their new rooms on Aug 25 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Prettyboy Elementary most likely will open with about 455 students, the same as last year. All classrooms have whiteboards and each grade level has Mimio Teach interactive technology.

Students can sign up for after school Clay Club and fifth-graders can join the Robotics Club.

Open house so kids can check out the classrooms will be on Aug. 24 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., said Principal Sue Truesdell.

Seventh District Elementary in Parkton is projected to open with 430 students, 22 more than last year. The school ran a pilot program last year for 3-year-olds that combines students with special needs with students who are typical peers, said Principal Leslie Brooks. It has been expanded to include 4-year-olds this year.

The school will offer a "Grab 'n' Go" breakfast for all students so they may pick up breakfast from the cafeteria and bring it to homerooms to eat.

"Sneak A Peek at our Seat" for grades 1-5 is 1 p.m. Aug. 24.

Our Lady of Grace Catholic School will open with 149 students in kindergarten through grade 8 and 19 in its preschool, both slightly down from last year's enrollment, although principal Byrdie Ricketts said new enrollments are still coming in.

The school's 11 classrooms will all have Smart Boards. There are also two Smart Tables.

Open house is set for Aug. 24 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. when all students may drop off supplies, see their homeroom and teachers, and locate desks and lockers.

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