New King’s Fork High opens for the business of education

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Rachel Bailor has been a high school student for two years.

But on Tuesday morning, she was as new as the rest of the more than 1,200 members of the first-ever King’s Fork High School class.

&uot;It was interesting with all the new people and new teachers,&uot; said Bailor, who transferred from Lakeland. &uot;It’s about the same as Lakeland, but its bigger, and we got lost easier.&uot;

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More than a year of construction and 18 months of planning came together as Suffolk’s third public high school, at price tag of $45 million, came to life for the 2003-04 school year. The 1,200 students, nearly 100 faculty members and principal Dan Ward took time to adjust to their new surroundings.

&uot;We brought the kids and teachers together very well,&uot; said Ward, formerly of Dinwiddie High School, near Petersburg. &uot;The building was brand new, and we didn’t know how well the systems would work, but technology can go wrong in schools that have been open for 10 years.

&uot;But the students and teachers were outstanding. The students’ behavior was exceptional, and the teachers were helpful. The first day of school is stressful to anyone in the school business, but everyone jumped right in and worked hard.&uot;

After five years of teaching in Isle of Wight and Perquimane, N.C., Sonya Pele came to Suffolk to continue her algebra-instructional career at King’s Fork.

&uot;I heard a lot of good things about Suffolk,&uot; Pele said. &uot;The transition went pretty well. We thought it might be confusing, but the students seem to be making the adjustment very well.

&uot;This is a mixed group from the other Suffolk schools, and they seemed very eager to start the new school year, especially in a new school.&uot;

Margaret Farris certainly was.

&uot;It was exciting, even though I got lost a lot,&uot; said the freshman, waiting outside to head to volleyball practice. &uot;It had to find my way around the school.

&uot;I know a lot of people here, and there were people that I’d never seen before. It looked really exciting.&uot;

At King’s Fork, the expedited construction schedule obviously paid off as most of the school was complete with work remaining on the auditorium, one classroom, the agricultural education lab and a small theater. Wet weather had stalled the work on the school throughout the summer, raising concerns as to how much of the school would be ready when the doors opened Tuesday.

Construction work will continue after students leave the building daily, said schools spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw.

Meanwhile, across the city, the first day of school was old hat for Kim McGrath’s fourth-grade class at Northern Shores Elementary School.

Just a couple of hours into their first day back, a handful of kids were already missing the lazy days of summer – sleeping late, going to camp, playing video games. But most were excited about the upcoming school year and all it has to offer.

&uot;The summer was taking forever

– like years – to end,&uot; said Jackie Miskin, 9. &uot;I’ve been waiting to come back to school because it’s funner here.&uot;

Ten-year-old Shaunna Grant agreed

&uot;I went to Georgia for three weeks and went to the mall a few times,&uot; she said. &uot;Mainly, I was just bored.

I’m ready to learn something.&uot;

Shaunna and most classmates were talking about learning the three Rs – reading, writing and arithmetic.

But 10-year-old Christian Brewerton, a self-proclaimed aspiring rocket scientist, apparently has hopes of getting a taste of traditional high school biology this year.

The youngster, who says science is his favorite subject, said he wants to dissect a frog this year.

&uot;I even dreamed about it last night,&uot; said Christian, 9. &uot;It was nasty. I kind of want to do it anyway.

&uot;I think it would be fun but I don’t want the classroom to stink.&uot;

Some students like the creative and social outlets that Northern Shores provides.

&uot;I like the art classes,&uot; said 8 year-old Rashawn Brown. &uot;I want to paint a picture of myself playing video games. That is my business.

&uot;And I like the parties we have here at school too.&uot;

Citywide, Bradshaw reported that overall, &uot;Things went fine.&uot; The biggest issue was transportation delays related to the system’s bus driver shortage, and break downs.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 12,406 students were listed on the student roll books in Suffolk, as compared to 12,311 last year this time. Bradshaw noted, however, that the division normally sees a sharp increase after by after the 10th day.