Wood County Schools begins new school year

Lubeck Elementary School first-grader Jonah Harris exchanges a fist-bump with Principal Jeff Hardman Thursday morning on his way into the building for the first day of the 2019-20 school year. (Photo by Michael Erb)

PARKERSBURG — Thousands of Wood County students were back in class Thursday for the first day of the 2019-20 school year.

Teachers and administrators welcomed new and returning students Thursday morning at Wood County Schools 27 public schools.

Superintendent Will Hosaflook and several Wood County Board of Education members spent Thursday visiting all of the district’s schools.

“I could not be more impressed with how our schools look,” Hosaflook said. “The summer crews have done a phenomenal job. Our schools are spotless.”

Hosaflook said the opening of school is achieved by teachers, administrators, custodians, and other professional and service personnel working tirelessly to prepare for students.

Greenmont Elementary School second-graders Jillian Farley, left, and Sawyer Cowan, right, hold up decorated “Ishi” rocks Thursday while waiting in the hallway. The little rocks are based off the book “Ishi: Simple Tips From a Solid Friend,” which gives positive life lessons through stories about a friendly and optimistic pebble. (Photo by Michael Erb)

“Everything is spot on,” Hosaflook said. “I’ve not heard any complaints.”

This year, the school system hired nearly 50 new teachers for various positions throughout the county.

The school system also welcomed two new middle school principals, though both worked previously as administrators in the school system.

Jackson Middle School Principal Jeff Kisner previously was assistant principal at Parkersburg High School, and Edison Middle School Principal Janet Sears was previously assistant principal at Edison.

Kisner said Thursday’s classes went smoothly, with some teachers diving straight into instruction while others concentrated on student orientation.

Penny Spaur, right, exchanges a high-five with a student Thursday morning at Lubeck Elementary School. Students throughout Wood County returned to class Thursday for the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. (Photo by Michael Erb)

“Most of it is learning the procedures and expectations of the school,” he said. “Sixth grade is the biggest transition, because they have to learn the layout of the building, how to get into their lockers and where to find their classes.”

Kisner said instructors also were emphasizing safety and going over emergency drills, such as evacuating the building during a fire or how to shelter in place.

“It’s going very well,” Kisner said.

In surrounding counties, Ritchie County Schools, Tyler County Schools and Wirt County Schools also welcomed students Thursday, and Pleasants County Schools opened Wednesday. Students in Calhoun County returned to class Aug. 6, and Jackson County Schools will open Aug. 19.

Doddridge County Schools will begin the 2019-20 school year Aug. 23 and Wetzel County Schools will open Sept. 3.

Stephanie Shepard, a math teacher at Jackson Middle School, speaks to a classroom of seventh-grade students concerning safety drills. Students throughout Wood County started the new school year Thursday, and much of the day was spent getting kids acclimated to new classrooms and schedules for the 2019-20 school year. (Photo by Michael Erb)

In Ohio, Belpre City Schools students started Wednesday, and Marietta City Schools will open its doors Aug. 21.

Michael Erb can be reached at merb@newsandsentinel.com