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Buford heads back to the books

BUFORD - Buford High School welcomed a record number of students to a larger building on Friday.

With the arrival of a new school year, the city district's high school opened a three-story addition containing about 25 classrooms and a health occupation lab.

The new addition will allow the school's 885 students to travel throughout the campus - even to the field house - without going outside, principal Banks Bitterman said.

Additionally, the school was spruced up over the summer. The red lockers were painted green, and the formerly carpeted hallways received new flooring.

"I couldn't be more excited about this school year and all of our faculty and student achievements," Bitterman said.

Throughout the district, principals reported a good start to the new school year.

"It's gone really well," Buford Middle School principal Rachel Adams said. "Things have gone off without a hitch. It's been wonderful - a really good startup."

The principals at Buford Elementary School and Buford Academy attributed the smooth start to a staff of experienced Buford faculty and staff members. Neither of the schools hired new staff this year.

Buford Academy principal Joy Davis said this was the first time in her 27 years as an educator that her school has had a complete returning staff.

"Even with the furloughs, it's just been a dream this year," Davis said. "Volunteers have stepped in to help."

The Elementary School, which houses kindergarten and first grade, has 500 students, about how many it had when the 2008-09 school year ended. The Middle School enrollment stayed about the same as well - 686 students. Buford Academy's enrollment has increased slightly to 970 students.

Many teachers said they were excited that a new school year has begun.

"I don't care how long you've been teaching. You still get a few butterflies when you see them coming down the hall," Buford Academy teacher Susan Sibley said. "You want them to have a great experience."

Teachers said they also like starting school toward the end of the week.

"I think the kids like starting on a Friday, because they're a little sleepy today," Buford Academy teacher Lisa Archer. "Today, we're going over the procedures, going on tours."

Giving students a day or two to adjust to the school routine means teachers are ready to start ramping up instruction next week.

"Monday, we're ready to start running with them," Buford Middle teacher Janet Fredrikson said.