About 57,000 Mobile County Public Schools students returned to class on Tuesday, as schools opened for the first day of the 2017-18 school year.
“There’s an enthusiasm this year that you can sense on each and every school campus and with the students, who are so happy to be back,” said MCPSS Superintendent Martha Peek, who visited several schools as students arrived Tuesday morning. “We’re glad to have them here today.
“Just to see the work the teachers, the principals and the staff members put in to having everything just perfect for opening day is just amazing.”
For some students, Tuesday marked a new beginning. Many kindergarteners came to school for the first time, while sixth-graders moved up to their new middle schools and freshmen started high school.
“I’m very nervous because it’s a new place,” Clark-Shaw Magnet School sixth-grader Rhett Ford said. “You’ve got to meet new friends and there’s new teachers.”
For the Class of 2018, meanwhile, Tuesday marked their last first day of school as an MCPSS student. “It’s exciting; it’s bittersweet,” said Baker High senior Victoria Ortiz. “A lot of new things are going to be coming up – the senior activities and stuff.”
Among the schools opening Tuesday was Mobile County’s newest, the recently completed Chastang-Fournier K-8 School. The $16 million, 98,000-square-foot facility is the sixth school that MCPSS has opened in the last four years. Its enrollment includes the former students of Chastang Middle and Brazier Elementary.
“The first time they walk in the building, they look around and say, ‘Ooh, it’s so pretty,’” Chastang-Fournier Principal Bernard Everett said of his students. “Our community has been awaiting a new school in this area for a very long time. Our community leaders are just waiting to get in and support us.”
Only one of MCPSS’ 88 schools did not hold its first day on Tuesday. Fonde Elementary has gone to a year-round schedule and opened school on July 21. Fonde’s schedule will include 2½-week breaks at the end of each quarter and a summer break lasting four to six weeks.
For everyone else, Tuesday was a day to get back to the business of learning.
“The first day went very smoothly, very positive attitudes,” said Rebecca Brower, assistant principal at Mary G. Montgomery High School. “The students came ready to learn, and I think it’s going to be a great year.”