> SOUTHERN INDIANA — They rolled out of bed, ate breakfast, grabbed their backpacks and made their way to the bus stop a full two weeks earlier than usual.
Across Clark and Floyd counties, students came in on the new balanced calendar schedule on Thursday. The calendar model gives students more time off during the school year, but a shorter summer and earlier starting date.
But as Kathy Gilland got students ready for their first day back at class in Clarksville Elementary School, she said they were set to start the new school year.
“They were ready today,” said Gilland, who helped Clarksville transition before she takes her job as principal at Utica Elementary School in Greater Clark County Schools. “They were just as ready if we had started on the 15th. They were excited to be here. Mom got them up and said school starts today, so they did what they were supposed to do.”
She said younger students don’t seem to mind the earlier start because they’ve not had time to get used to anything else.
But even the older students came in on the first day of school ready to go. Mark Laughner, principal at Charlestown High School, said the promise of extended seasonal breaks softened the blow of the early start.“I haven’t heard many complaints,” Laughner said. “I think they understand the fact that at the end of each nine weeks, you’re going to get two weeks off. I think high school kids realize that they’ll be fine.”
But he said schools may have to keep closer track of their enrollment. The earlier start date may keep some students from coming in on the first day, but Laughner said he expected students to trickle in by next week for sure.
Jessica Waters, principal at Hazelwood Middle School in the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp., said her students also look forward to longer breaks, but they were happy to see their friends and teachers.