Dozens of students enter Hull Middle School using the path of the rolled-out red carpet on the first day of school in Duluth on Wednesday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
First Day of School in Gwinnett
Hull Middle School rolled out the red carpet for students getting off buses to welcome them on the first day of school in Duluth Wednesday.
DULUTH — Picking out new clothes and getting back to school was exciting for the Sanders kids, but what they really looked forward to Wednesday was breakfast in bed.
Three times a year Brady and Olivia Sanders, twin seventh-graders at Hull Middle, get breakfast in bed: the first day of school, the last day of school and on their birthday. Wednesday’s breakfast was stuffed French toast.
“That’s really what they were looking forward to,” said their mother, Cathy, who dropped them off in the car rider lane on the first day of school.
The hallways at Hull were a busy place on the first day of school as sixth-graders were shown to their classrooms, and seventh- and eighth-graders, now eye-to-eye with some teachers, were re-directed down different hallways. The school also rolled out a red carpet as students arrived on buses, the first time the entire student body received VIP treatment.
“The idea is we want every single student to feel like they’re VIPs,” Assistant Principal Ben Pope said. “We want them to know we value them, we want them to reach their full potential.”
Across the district, the first day was smooth, but there were delays in the Mill Creek cluster delivering high school students, which caused delays at the middle school and elementary school levels there, said Sloan Roach, GCPS’ executive director of communication and media relations.
Roach said delays are not unusual in the first days of a new school year, and transportation is a primary focus for the district to transport students to and from school safely. Roach asked parents to be patient in the first days of the school year as traffic adjusts to buses being on the road.
At Hull, Pope said the school initiated the red carpet treatment at its Jump Start program for rising sixth-graders to ease the anxiety that comes with a new school and school year.
Several kids were surprised to see the red carpet, and then smiled as they were greeted by teachers and administrators inside the building.
“With our sixth-graders, we do spend extra time teaching routines and procedures,” said Pope, who added that seventh- and eighth-graders would ease into a routine by the end of this week. “We have high expectations early, but we make sure we take the time to teach what those expectations are.”
The Sanders children had a fun summer, their mother said, but looked forward to school because the rainy summer kept them inside more than they would have preferred. They’re also looking forward to a class field trip this fall to Jekyll Island.
“Seeing their friends was probably the most exciting thing for them,” Cathy Sanders said.
Andrae Freeman, whose daughter Arielle Warren started eighth grade at Hull on Wednesday, said she was “a little nervous, but excited.”
“She’s pretty well academically inclined, she gets that from her daddy,” Freeman said with a laugh. “She loves school right now, so I want to keep it that way.”
Freeman is a ninth grade math teacher in Oklahoma, but has an annual back-to-school tradition where he takes Warren out to eat, shopping, and drops off and picks her up from school on the first day.
“She has her own time to shine and comes to school all happy and stuff,” he said. “Then I get on her about her grades, that’s the rest of the year.”
Warren, who is taking algebra I, wants to follow in her father’s career footsteps, but Freeman said he would prefer her to be an engineer.
As students, parents and staff dodged light rain drops, they stepped inside where initial reunions between students and staff discussed summer activities, while new parents and students registered.
“I’m excited about this school,” Cathy Sanders said. “Great administration staff. Everyone seems happy, the kids are happy. You see a good vibe when you come to school here.”