Students prepare to return to class

By J.L. Pate

August 19, 2014

LAURINBURG — Packed with cars and people in the middle of Tuesday afternoon, a boisterous atmosphere ruled Scotland High School as students and parents streamed in and out in droves for the annual back-to-school open house, getting a jump on the start of classes Monday.

All that was during just the first hour of the open house, which began at 2 p.m.

“We came out to see where the kids have to go when the bell rings next week,” said David Huckabee as he left the school office with his three children: Sammy, who is starting 9th grade, and Kelsea and Chrissy, who both will be in 10th grade. “We wanted to see what courses they’ve got and see some of the teachers.”

Asked if he was excited to be starting high school, Sammy shrugged and said, “Not really. I just want to try and find my room.”

But excitement permeated the crowded entrance hall, where counselors and teachers sat at tables, directing crowds of students with questions and offering sign-ups for various extracurricular programs. The din of the crowd was punctuated with screams of recognition by returning students who had not seen each other all summer, hugs and laughter.

“We’ve had really good attendance, and it’s only the first hour,” said Principal Greg Batten, fielding phone calls, questions and spirited greetings as he roamed the halls and classrooms. “I’ve seen a lot of familiar faces already, and some new ones. We want to answer as many of their questions today … before the real bell rings.”

Open house is a chance for students to pick up their schedules, find their classes, meet teachers and ask questions.

“That’s the important thing today.” Batten said. “Do not be afraid to ask any questions.”

New at the high school this year, following a limited trial roll-out last year, is the adviser/advisee program to put each student together with a teacher “in a non-teaching environment so he or she can give the student academic advice and support; tutoring advice, if that’s needed, and make them aware of various options and alternatives in their academic careers,” said the principal. “We want to raise the bar as much as possible, to challenge these kids all we can.”

Batten said he expects some 1,600 students at Scotland High this year.

Over at Sycamore Lane Middle School, parking lots also filled quickly when its open house began at 4 p.m., where Principal Rick Singletary said he usually has “50 to 60 percent of our student body (500-plus students) show up.”

“It’s so good to see young people come out who are seeking direction and expressing their expectations,” said Singletary, pausing to greet a mother and her two daughters. “It also helps relieve some of the jitters” about starting a new academic chapter, especially those middle schoolers who will face for the first time regular class changes, a locker combination and new extracurricular choices such as art, band and chorus.

Singletary said his school is also starting something new this year called Read 180. It provides supplemental reading instruction to those students who “are on the edge of reading proficiency … to make sure they are prepared when they get to high school to be on track for college or a career.

“It’s an exciting place to be,” the middle school principal said. “It’s an exciting time. We’re here today to let students know that if they reach out for help, a teacher is going to be waiting to take that hand and be there for the student.”