PARKERSBURG - Though students don't return until Wednesday, the halls of Wood County's public schools have been bustling with activity.
Students at Parkersburg Catholic Elementary School and Parkersburg Catholic High School are kicking off their new school year today, a couple of days before the rest of the county.
"We're ready to go at 8:10 (a.m.)," PCES principal Kevin Simonton said Sunday.
Sue Woodward, spokeswoman for Wood County Schools, said teachers have spent the last week working on professional development and getting classrooms ready for students to return.
Though the first official work day for teachers was Friday, many were in classrooms Thursday or even earlier, Woodward said.
The school system has more than 50 teachers new to the district this year. Woodward said in many cases those teachers are setting up a classroom for the first time.
"There is a lot of laminating and trimming going on," she said.
On Thursday teachers at Jefferson Elementary Center were busy setting up classrooms, organizing books and finishing last minute details. Principal Judy Johnson said the school has eight teachers who are new to Wood County Schools, one of the highest concentration of new teachers in the district.
At Parkersburg High School, physical education teachers from throughout the district ran laps and learned new techniques for getting students up and moving.
Karen Northrup, director of the L.I.F.E. program for Wood County Schools, said the event's guest presenter was Artie Kamiya, a K-12 fitness expert from Durham, N.C.
"We were able to bring him to Wood County with some of our PEP funding," she said. "This is our third and final year with the PEP grant."
Kamiya worked with the PE teachers to introduce ways to get and keep students moving, FUN-damentals which are games that teach meaningful movement activities, Northrup said.
Teachers aren't the only ones getting ready for the new year. Throughout the district maintenance crews have been hard at work making last-minute repairs, polishing floors and working on landscaping.
"They are trying to mow the grass in between rainstorms," Woodward said. "They have been testing and resetting the fire alarm systems for the building. Basically making sure everything is ready to go."
Woodward said the district's transportation department also has been getting ready. About half of the district's nearly 13,000 students ride buses to and from school each day.
"The bus drivers will be out running their routes and retiming them," she said. "We are onto the dress rehearsal part of the show at this point."
Forms and back-to-school information have been sent out to parents throughout the school system, including free- and reduced-price meal program applications, Woodward said. Many of the materials also will be sent home with students on the first day of school, she said.
Parents who have questions about the first day or school or any other school-related queries should contact the schools directly or check Wood County Schools' Web site at www.woodcountyschoolswv.com.
The 2009-10 school year begins Wednesday.