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Smooth sailing as students get back in the groove

Rossman Elementary School 3rd grade teacher April Sunram helps out student Mason Omberg with a questionaire she wanted the students to answer on their first day of school in Detroit Lakes. BRIAN BASHAM/DL NEWSPAPERS

School is in session.

Parents are happy the kids are back to a routine. Kids are happy to see their friends on a regular basis. And school administrators are happy with enrollment numbers and temperatures.

“I hope every day goes as smooth as this one,” Frazee-Vergas High School Principal Rob Nudell said.

“We had an excellent day,” Lake Park-Audubon Elementary School Principal Sam Skaaland agreed. “It was nice weather, bus assignments went really well, new teachers and new kids are assimilating well into the day. I think we had an excellent start to the school year.”

That seemed to be the common thread throughout Tuesday – an excellent start to a new school year.

While the weather was a concern at some Minnesota and North Dakota schools last week with the high temperatures and no air conditioning, that wasn’t a problem this week.

“We had great temperatures. It wasn’t as hot as last week, so that was great,” Frazee-Vergas Elementary Principal Travis Nagel said. “We were a little worried about that.”

Temperatures dropped from the 90s over the Labor Day weekend to a more non-air conditioning comfortable 70s and low-80s.

“The day went smooth; it went fast,” Nudell said.

One change in Frazee this year was the start of school a little later than in the past. Nudell said the high school is starting 10 minutes later “to allow some families who bus from a long ways and for us to do some professional, community learning things with our staff in the morning.”

The elementary school starts five minutes earlier than last year.

On Tuesday, the Frazee-Vergas High School student council held a welcome back to school event, and new staff and teachers participated in games to get them involved and introduced to the school. The sports captains also told about the spring sports wrap-ups and the fall sports previews.

Last Wednesday the school hosted an open house, and Nudell said about 85 to 90 percent of the seventh graders and their parents attended an orientation that night to get acquainted with their new school.

“We just really stress that to them (to come to orientation), having parents involved, being in a new school, going from class to class, that would be important. They are the ones that are always nervous. The other ones have been in the building before.”

And the seventh graders aren’t the only newbies.          

“We had an unusually large amount of kids come and register on the first day of school,” Nagel said. “Usually that doesn’t happen. It was hectic but nice to see that our enrollment will be jumping up a little bit more.”

Enrollment numbers for the elementary school were at 492 on Tuesday. That number is up from May when the school year ended at 488 students.       

The Frazee-Vergas High School saw 418 kids the first day of school Tuesday, up 16 from last year at this time.

Though no numbers were on-hand Tuesday afternoon, Skaaland said that LP-A is seeing positive enrollment numbers as well.

“We’re even or above where we were last year at this time,” he said of LP-A Elementary numbers.

Detroit Lakes High School also hosted an orientation for their ninth grade students moving up to the high school. Tuesday morning was dedicated to getting those students acclimated to the high school, and then classes started for the rest of the high schoolers at noon.

“It was terrific,” DLHS Principal Lisa Weber said of the first day of school. “There was lots of energy — very positive, high energy. The students and staff had lots of enthusiasm.”

Area districts are hoping the momentum of the beginning of the school year holds throughout the year.

“It went well. The kids are always excited to come back on that first day of school and everybody’s excited for a new school year,” Nagel said. “It’s fun to see all the kids back and the teachers back in the classrooms with them.”

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.