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Emma Eckert, 11, and Grace Fipps, 12, laugh together during lunch at the newly constructed Mount Airy Middle School during the first day of classes Monday.
Emma Eckert, 11, and Grace Fipps, 12, laugh together during lunch at the newly constructed Mount Airy Middle School during the first day of classes Monday. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

Monday was the first day of school for students attending Carroll County Public Schools. The Times visited a county elementary, middle and high school Monday to talk with students and principals about that busy first day.

Cranberry Station Elementary School
Students received high-fives from their principal, well-wishes from their guidance counselor and welcoming smiles from their teachers as they got off school buses Monday.
Kindergartener James Justice was also greeted by his mother at the school's entrance. Laurie Ausfresser, of Westminster, put James on the school bus and then drove to the school to meet him there.
She got pictures of her son and other neighborhood children getting off the bus and walking into the school for the first time. She also got one of James at his desk.
"He's only going to start school once," she said.
It was a big day for many county families as kindergarteners began their school careers. Many elementary schools, such as Cranberry Station, held events to prepare and welcome new students.
Cranberry Station Elementary held an open house Friday, Principal Pamela Meyers said.
"All of the teachers were in their classrooms greeting the parents and students," she said.
At the open house, several parents of kindergarteners practiced with their children what to do when they enter the building on their first day, Meyers said.
"It helped get a little bit of those jitters out," she said.
On Monday, teachers stood outside of their classrooms and said hello to students as they entered the room. Other staff members stood outside and throughout the building to help direct students as they arrived.
Bus drivers often have kindergarteners sit in the front of the bus, Meyers said. All kindergarteners are given a tag to wear the first couple weeks of school that says their name, homeroom teacher and how they will be going home.
Many times those kindergarteners are very shy as they enter the school.
"That tag does really identify them with us so we can help them maneuver the first day," she said.
Kindergartener Kaylin Byrnes was excited to start her first day of class with teacher Beth Lindsay. She already knows another student in her class.
"I met someone on the bus," she said. "It's the first time that I rode it alone."
James said he was looking forward to going to class and playing with blocks. His mother said they prepared for school by going to bed early and eating a good breakfast.
Ausfresser only has one child, so Monday was a very special day for her.
"I think he's excited for sure," she said. "I'm nervous for him, but he'll do great."

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-Alisha George

Mount Airy Middle School
MOUNT AIRY - This time last year, roughly 230 sixth-graders were getting used to classes in portable classrooms at Mount Airy Middle School.
Monday, they had classrooms in the new two-story building, which is sectioned off into wings for the sixth, seventh and eighth grades as well as for special subjects.
Emma Eckert, 11, said the new building is a lot nicer than the former Mount Airy Middle School, which is still in the process of being torn down next door.
"I think the layout is a lot easier," she said.
Seated next to her at the lunch table, Grace Fipps, a seventh grader, said last year the sixth-graders were in portable classrooms. The building was an obvious upgrade.
From the start of the day, the school had big signs to direct students, said Principal Karl Streaker. For the most part, the day has been similar to every other first day of school, he said.
New students learn their way around and ask where they should go to the numerous staff members directing the kids in the hallways.
"It's just learning a new traffic pattern," he said.
While the building was new, familiar faces and artifacts from the school remained. Murals painted on the walls and the former Mount Airy Middle School sign hang just outside the lunchroom on the wall known as Artifact Row.
"It's just like a regular year," Streaker said.

-Kelcie Pegher

North Carroll High School
HAMPSTEAD - Freshman Adolfo Bocanegra, 14, had a rough start to his first day of school at North Carroll High School. He missed the bus, and needed to get a ride to school. He said he is still getting used to the new campus too, which is much larger than he is used to.
"It was pretty nerve-racking," he said, while sitting in his bus after school.
Still, he had a good day overall, he said, and felt comfortable because he already knew a lot of the new freshmen.
Maura Kernpayne, 16, a senior at the school, said finding her classes was very easy, and she was glad to be completing her final credits. Kernpayne said she plans to attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County to study psychology.
"I am just ready to get out of here," she said.
Junior Nikki Vietz, 15, said she thought her first day of school went well, but she was sad to see summer vacation end.
"Who wants to go to school on the first day?" she asked.
Senior Dylan Bruffey, 17, said he was glad he had a lot of easy classes this year, as he had taken most of his difficult courses already. Bruffey said that he plans to attend a trade school after high school because he wants to be an auto technician.
He said he has enjoyed his time at the school.
"There are a lot of teachers I am going to miss," he said.
Principal Kim Dolch said the first day went smoothly, and she was proud to see older students helping out younger ones when they looked lost. She said she anticipates the rest of the school year will go well too.
"Day one down," she said. "We have 179 to left, so we will see how it goes."

-Timothy Sandoval

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