Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 9:10 pm | Fair 56º

 
 
 
 
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Excitement Fills Halls of Santa Barbara Public Schools as Classes Resume

Santa Barbara Unified, Goleta Union K-12 districts and others on South Coast welcome students back to school

Goleta Valley Junior High Principal Veronica Roger high fives a student Wednesday morning just before classes begin.
Goleta Valley Junior High Principal Veronica Roger high fives a student Wednesday morning just before classes begin. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Sporting new backpacks and expressions of anticipation and anxiety in equal measure, young students walked onto the campus of Goleta Valley Junior High School Wednesday morning to start the school year.

It was the first day of classes for Goleta Union and Santa Barbara Unified school districts, and seventh and eighth grade students streamed onto Goleta Valley Junior High’s campus in the early morning sunlight.

One teacher watching the students make their way to their classrooms compared them to a school of fish grouping together.

Overheard on the patio were fragments of conversation from students, and squeals rang out as they spotted friends they hadn’t seen all summer, expressing joy and surprise at the changes that had occurred in the meantime.

“You have braces now?!” one student called out incredulously to another.

While students relieved to spot their peers in the middle of the courtyard embraced, two girls huddling shyly on the patio’s edge buried their faces in their class schedules, waiting for the bell to ring.  

“I’m scared,” one could be heard whispering to her friend.

From behind her own schedule, her friend replied only in affirmation, “I know.”

Students compare class schedules Wednesday morning at Goleta Valley Junior High. Click to view larger
Students compare class schedules Wednesday morning at Goleta Valley Junior High. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

School staff members sipped coffee as they greeted students and helped them with their schedules.

Lizbeth Perez, a seventh grade student beginning her first day at junior high, stopped by a check-in table to receive an agenda book that will help her keep track of her homework from office manager Jetton Grunt.

Perez said she was nervous and excited to start classes.

A group of seventh-grade boys grouped together nearby, comparing backpacks and class schedules.

Principal Veronica Rogers said that seven different elementary schools and 15 private schools bring students into the junior high classes located on the 6100 Stow Canyon Rd. campus in Goleta. 

In order to make students feel welcome at the school, four “houses” were organized at the school, putting kids in groups and rallying school spirit, sort of similar to the concept of houses in the Harry Potter books, Rogers said.

Returning eighth graders are encouraged to help the school welcome every new seventh grader, she said.

Seventh grader Lizbeth Perez gets some encouragement from Goleta Valley Junior High Office Manager Jetton Grunt just before classes begin Wednesday morning. Click to view larger
Seventh grader Lizbeth Perez gets some encouragement from Goleta Valley Junior High Office Manager Jetton Grunt just before classes begin Wednesday morning. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

This year, the school has 804 students enrolled, a boost that Rogers thinks could be due to an uptick in housing and more families moving to the area.

Rogers, who has worked at the school for 12 years, walked in the school’s front courtyard and greeted students with high fives.

“Are you ready?” she called out to a clustered group of incoming seventh graders, who responded in the affirmative, but timidly.

An exciting first day played out at the junior high, and some positive news for the new school year has come out district wide as well.

Barbara Keyani, spokeswoman for Santa Barbara Unified, said that two of the district's bond-funded facilities projects — new libraries for Washington and Adams Elementary Schools — will have their ribbon cutting ceremonies in September.

Roofing projects are underway at Goleta Valley Junior High and Roosevelt School, also has an ongoing heating ventilation and cooling project.

Keyani said the district will also be evaluating its iPad programs to see if they warrant expansion.

The district currently has 1,800 iPads in grades 3-6 at Adams, Franklin and Washington Elementary Schools, as well as all of La Cuesta Continuation High School.

Wednesday was also the first day of class for several new school principals, including Gabe Sandoval at Cleveland Elementary, Brian Naughton at Monroe Elementary, Christy Mendivil at Roosevelt Elementary and Elise Simmons at La Cuesta Continuation High School and Alta Vista Alternative High School, Keyani said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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