Proud dad

Frank Webb Jr. (rt) brings his twin sons Frank Webb 111 (left) and Fabian Webb (middle) who are 12 years old. Royal Palm Elementary School in Lauderhill,Fl., opens the first day of school with a tribute to the Broward Million Father March. August 22, 2011 (Walter Michot, Miaimi Herald / August 20, 2012)

Students returned to Broward and Palm Beach county schools Monday, and officials reported trouble-free openings.

A ceremonial kickoff of sorts got the day off to a high energy start at Orange Brook Elementary in Hollywood.

Miami Heat guard Norris Cole and mascot Burnie were on hand to welcome students and give out free school supplies from Office Depot. Superintendent Robert Runcie also stopped by with some local TV stations.waiting%20low%20res.jpg


Why all the fuss? Orange Brook is a school with a large number of low-income and minority student, but it’s pulled out an A grade for nine years in a row.

Doug Pennington, a member of the Miami Heat’s halftime Xtreme Team handed out stress balls, glue and other freebies to parents and students in line. Inside the school, a full stock of pencils, crayons, notebooks and other supplies were available for all students.

“Your hard work and dedication has paid off. You’re one of the highest rating schools in South Florida,” Pennington announced through a microphone “It takes hard work and dedication to make a champion, and we want to take care of you.”

With dance music blasting in the background, Pennington tried to get everyone pumped.
“Who’s excited about the first day of school?” he said to cheers. “We know parents are excited. This is your vacation.”

Julie Lamdanski was one of those excited parents as she dropped off her daughter Maya, a second grader, and son, Noah, a fourth grader.

“This is a great school, and I think they’re both going to do great,” she said.
Maya seemed a bit more nervous and sad that summer vacation was over.
“I think this year’s going to be hard,” she said.

In Palm Beach County, Superintendent Wayne Gent made the rounds and said he found  "nothing out of the ordinary.”

Gent said he visited 15 campuses by 11 a.m., and heard positive updates from various administrators.

“So far it looks very good,” Gent said while leaving Galaxy Elementary School, temporarily based in Delray Beach at the old Plumosa Elementary campus. He wasn’t aware of any major glitches.

Gent started the morning at Seminole Ridge High in the Acreage, greeting students and teachers in the school’s career academies.

He then drove his district-issued Ford Escape to schools in Loxahatchee, Riviera Beach, West Palm Beach, and Boynton Beach, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a snack at 9 a.m.

For the tour, Gent picked some schools with special circumstances such as new programs or principals, such as Galaxy’s Ed Capitano.

Back at Orange Brook, parents and students must have known it would be a special day. Many waited outside for more than hour. Maria Rodriguez and her daughter, Maribel, 7, arrived at 6 a.m., two hours before the school day started.office%20depot%20low%20res.jpg

“We wanted to be sure we weren’t late,” Maria Rodriguez said.

They were first in line when Runcie came outside at 7:20 a.m. to greet parents and students.
“Are you excited?” Runcie asked Maribel, who is beginning her second year.

When Maribel didn’t respond, the mother said, “She’s half asleep.”

Runcie seemed wide eyed and energetic, even though he started the day a 5:30 a.m. visiting a school bus compound.

“This is what we live for," he said. “This is what we’re all about, providing students with a world class education.”