• November 23, 2014

Thousands of students head back to school

Class begins

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Posted: Friday, August 31, 2012 4:30 am | Updated: 10:30 am, Fri Sep 21, 2012.

For Harker Heights High School student Anna Jordan, Monday marked an important transition in her life.

“This is the beginning of the end,” she said, smiling.

That’s because Jordan is a senior, and Monday was the first day of school for public school students in Texas.

“It ran really well,” said Jordan, a member of the Student To Student organization, which helps incoming freshmen and other new students get around their new surroundings.

Jordan, who also is a member of student council and National Honor Society, said there wasn’t much confusion in the hallways and every student seemed to get to where they were going.

“It was smooth,” Jordan said.

She was able to participate in events her organizations were putting on and make it to all of her classes with no trouble, including her U.S. government class.

“That’s my AP class,” said Jordan, excitedly.

The senior sent in her application to attend Texas A&M University last weekend. She is interested in becoming a history teacher.

Thousands of other students with thousands of other life goals roamed the hallways of Harker Heights High this week, and Principal David Manley was watching on with the careful eye of a head administrator.

“We had a great first day,” said Manley, a 20-year veteran of the district, who became principal at Harker Heights in January. “The kids have been great. They are excited about being back.”

Manley said the first-day student enrollment was 2,359. At the end of the last school year, 2,250 students were enrolled.

He said students and teachers both performed well and the halls were filled with excitement.

Like Jordan, Manley agreed the first day went “really smooth.”

Harker Heights High has 145 teachers this year and a total staff of 208, said Manley, who was a former principal at Rancier Middle School.

“Everybody was ready to go,” the principal said.

Teachers and students were also ready to go at Union Grove Middle School in Harker Heights.

“So far things have been fabulous,” said Dagmar Harris, now in her second year as principal of Union Grove. “The students and staff are excited and everyone is settling in very well.”

Harris said part of the reason she thought the first day went so well was due to the school’s efforts to prepare students, especially its new sixth-graders, for the beginning of classes.

Harris said Union Grove held a series of “readiness” days earlier in the month where students could get their class schedules, meet their teachers and get a tour of the school.

“It allows everyone, especially our sixth-graders, to get comfortable with things, so they know their way around and don’t feel so nervous on their first day.”

As with most schools, Harris said the first day for students at Union Grove would consist of activities designed to help students get to know their teachers and each other, as well as set expectations for the upcoming year.

“I walked through the classrooms and saw a lot of team-building and ‘getting-to-know-you’ type activities,” said Harris. “It is an important day where teachers can get to know their students and can communicate the goals that we set for the school year.”

Public schools in Harker Heights are part of the Killeen Independent School District, which expects an enrollment of about 42,000 students this year.

Herald education reporter Chris McGuinness contributed to this report.

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