'It's going to be a good year'
Gwinnett schools open doors for start of classes

LAWRENCEVILLE - Arianna DeShay woke up early Monday morning.

"Is it morning time yet?" the kindergartner asked, her mother said. "Is it time to go to school?"

Arianna and thousands of Gwinnett County students began classes Monday, the first day of the school year. With a projected increase of more than 4,000 students from last year, nearly 160,000 pupils are expected to attend Gwinnett County Public Schools.

As part of its plan to relieve overcrowding at existing facilities, the district opened three new elementary schools - Puckett's Mill, Rosebud and Trip - and replacement buildings for Benefield Elementary and Lanier Middle.

"I think it's a good plan," Arianna's mother, Lorna, said after walking her daughter to her classroom inside Trip Elementary School in Grayson. She noted the school her daughter would have attended was getting too full.

About 880 students are projected to attend Trip Elementary, principal Marci Resnick said. The school's capacity is 1,331 students.

Loganville resident Cody Bowens said she's excited that her children will be in smaller classes. She has a kindergartner, a first-grader, a third-grader and a fourth-grader at Trip Elementary.

"As far as I can tell, I think it's going to be a great year," Bowens said. "The staff is helpful, and the kids are very excited."

With her children at a new school this year, Bowens said she decided to join the PTA for the first time.

"We want to make it a community and get families involved in the school," she said.

Another parent, Shayla Small, said she recently bought a house in Gwinnett, moving from Clayton County. Her son, Robberiekis "R.J." Ferguson, is in first grade at Trip Elementary.

"I think it's going to be wonderful," Small said of the school. "It's not going to be (overcrowded). He's going to get a good learning experience."

R.J. said he thinks the school year will be "good."

"Really good," he added.

Fourth-grader Johnnie Asibey said he was excited to come to school Monday.

"The school is really big. It's fun," he said. "I know most of the people here."

Resnick, the principal, said many students were excited about attending Trip, but some were nervous. She said some nerves were calmed when students got the chance to visit the school last week.

"We've got a lot of really excited teachers," she said. "I think it's going to be a great year. Everyone's really positive."

Overall, the district experienced a successful start.

"From all accounts, we are off to a successful start to the school year," spokeswoman Sloan Roach said. "While we anticipate some transportation delays this first week of school, overall things went remarkably well."

The district anticipates the buses will run a little slower than scheduled during the first week of school, Roach said. The delays should cease as everyone gets used to their routines, she said.