Students and staff bring excitement and energy on the first day of school at North Carroll Middle.

Sisters Lily and Emma Lane stood outside the entrance to North Carroll Middle School, preparing to head in and officially begin their first day back.

For Lily, a 13-year-old eighth-grader, the first day didn’t bring much excitement, but for her 11-year-old sister Emma, who began sixth grade on Tuesday, the day was filled with energy.


While excited, Emma said she wasn’t looking forward to sharing the school with her sister, who “has a reputation” for being a chatterbox.

“I have her old teachers,” Emma added.

Lily did say she was looking forward to getting to see her friends and hanging out with them again. Emma said she was most looking forward to the school’s library, because she loves to read, and also visiting Outdoor School this year.

The Lane sisters weren’t the only ones with mixed feelings about being back. A mass of preteens made their way through the doors of North Carroll Middle School around 8 a.m. Tuesday, backpacks filled with new supplies and with lunch boxes in hand.

Most sported new outfits and fresh shoes, though many weren’t fresh faced, instead walking bleary-eyed as they moved through the front of the building.

And while Tuesday marked the first day back for the students, it also was the first for two others at the school.

New Superintendent Steve Lockard was there to greet students — one of three schools he was visiting Tuesday. He spent the morning waving to and engaging with students as they got off their buses, even pitching in to help hand out cards with bus number reminders to the kids.

“It’s a great first day, I’m very excited,” Lockard said, adding that a lot of work — all summer, but particularly in the last two weeks — has gone into getting everything ready for the students.

On Sept. 4, Rebecca Debinski will welcome 24 fifth graders into a space where she hopes to help them grow and learn over the next nine months, a dream she’s held onto since she was about their age.

“It’s exciting. You know, this is what we’re all about. Visiting schools over the summer doesn’t feel like it’s right because there’s not students there,” he said.

Lockard said he’s excited to get the year officially underway, and thought it was important to make sure he was out and engaging with the students, teachers and administrators Tuesday morning.

“Hopefully they’re just as excited as we are,” he said of the kids.

Tuesday also marked the first day in a new school for Principal Amy Gromada, who, after spending seven years at West Middle School, has moved to the top spot at North Carroll Middle School.

“It’s exciting, you know. I thrive on change, so I’m super excited to have a new experience [and] to be in this community,” she said.

Gromada said while her time at West Middle was “awesome,” it’s always great to move to a different part of the county to learn about a new community and the families that live there.


“I think mostly just getting to know the students and the families is the key for me and the staff,” she said.

Something new this year, Gromada said, is that they will be starting a Sources of Strength group at the school. The group, which started last year at West Middle and this year will be at East Middle, North Carroll Middle and Winters Mill High School, first began as a suicide prevention program.

Now, Gromada said, it’s really become a way to help change the school culture.

“I feel like we’re heading into a really great school year,” she said.