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School year gets under way
Events help ease transition
From left, Leticia Guzman and her brother, Misael Guzman Mendoza, meet his second-grade teacher, Susan Mitchell, during an open house at Chattahoochee Elementary. - photo by Jennifer Sami

This week

For complete coverage of the start of the 2013-14 school year, check the Forsyth County News throughout the week and go online at

Sitting at a computer in kindergarten classroom at Chattahoochee Elementary School on Tuesday, Rett Folsom appeared indifferent to the fact that he was two days away from starting his first year of school.

But his mother, Lana, said it was a façade.

“He’s excited,” she said. “He doesn’t want to say he’s excited, but he’s excited.”

Folsom’s reaction was one of many from students Tuesday during the school’s open house. Some students eagerly dragged their parents to their new classrooms, while others clung tightly to mom or dad’s legs, peaking out just enough to take in the surroundings.

That’s why second-grade teacher Susan Mitchell said open houses are so important.

“It’s a fresh start to meet new families and new kids and just to see their excitement, enthusiasm and a little bit of nervousness,” she said. “You need open house. It just eases the kids’ minds.

“They bring all their supplies and they go ahead and set up their little area so when they’re coming in that first day of school ... their desk is ready to go.”

As a teacher, Mitchell said it’s also nice to meet with parents, who “are great about sharing little tidbits about their kids just to help you know their personality better and be prepared for them on the first day.”

Forsyth County’s elementary schools held their open houses Tuesday, a day after the middle school-level events. The 2013-14 school year begins today.

Superintendent Buster Evans said the system had “record turnout crowds attending” the offerings.

“Forsyth County Schools has always had high levels of parent participation in our schools, and we expect this to continue throughout the school year as we work in partnership to provide the best educational experience possible for the students,” Evans said.

At Johns Creek Elementary, Shavonna Wilson said she was glad her daughters, entering kindergarten and second grade, were able to visit with their teachers before the first day.

Even though her older daughter, Madison, has attended school for a few years, she won’t be much help for her younger sister, McKenzy, as the family is new to the district.

“They’re both going to be leaning on each other to show each other around,” Wilson said. “They’re coming from a private school, so it’s a very different environment.

“It’s a much bigger school, so I think coming to [open house] will help them ease into that transition better.”

Chattahoochee’s open house was a bit special this year, as the school is celebrating its 20thanniversary.

The parking lot was full Tuesday and hallways were crowded as families checked out the upgrades made to campus over the summer.

Principal Barbara Vella said teachers have been painting and the entrance to the school was redesigned. It just added to the excitement for Mitchell, who’s been there since it opened.

“Things have changed. We started with no playground equipment, no library equipment — it was just a fresh slate,” she said. “And thanks to our community, we’ve built just a fabulous school.”