The Daily Southerner
Approximately 6,100 students began a new school year on 14 campusess in Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) Monday. The students were greeted by teachers, administrators, and freshly cleaned buildings.
Superintendent John Farrelly said he was impressed when he walked through the hallways of Tarboro High School Monday morning.
“Mr. Michael Turner (Tarboro’s principal) has made a concerted effort to spruce up the building,” Farrelly said. “Our schools look a lot better. I’ve stressed taking better care of our facilities.”
What Farrelly saw at Martin Middle School also met with his approval. Bernadine Lewis is the new principal at Martin.
“Her specialty is structure and when you walk though the halls of Martin, there’s structure and a focus on learning.”
Turner is new to Tarboro High and Lewis is a new administrator to ECPS.
“I think leadership means everything. We’ve got several new high-performing administrators across the district who I think are going to be very successful,” Farrelly said.
Another new administrator is G.W. Bulluck principal Thomas Holland, who came to ECPS from Wilson County.
“This is a good first day,” Holland said. “The optimism in the children’s faces is always a really big deal…There’s lots of optimism and we’ve got to keep that fire going.”
Farrelly also said he felt a “positive energy” on the first day of school.
Eager, smiling kindergartners came to Bulluck Monday morning holding the hands of their parents. Makhia Fenner, a kindergartner, clung to her mother, Camelia Fenner, at the school’s front door, but kept a smile on her face.
“She was excited to go to school. She said she was going to big girl school,” Fenner said. “My baby’s growing up on me.”
Stacy Reeves walked with her son Gavyn Morris, a first-grader new to Bulluck, down the sidewalk in front of the school. Morris came prepared, with his Superman lunch box and Skylander book bag.
“We got up at 6, we ate breakfast, and he was ready to go at 7,” Reeves said. “He popped right up. He said, ‘Where’s my clothes?’”
Zakari Manning, a kindergartner, grinned from ear to ear as he walked into school with his mother Gwen Manning.
“I’m ready!” Zakari exclaimed.
“We’re excited, just excited,” Gwen said. “I got up at 5 and so did he, but I made him go back to bed. He was like, ‘First day of school! It’s school time!”
Over at North Edgecombe High School, freshmen relished the freedom they experienced on their first day of high school.
“Not walking in line anymore” and “more independence” were Destiny Saunders’ favorite parts of the transition from middle school to high school.
“Not having to wear uniforms anymore” was a highlight for Dejuan Day.
On the downside, Day said he had “more bathroom breaks” in middle school and doesn’t have any in high school.
“It’s stricter, but more freedom at the same time,” said Stanisha Allen, of high school. “We only got five minutes to get to class …You don’t have to walk down the hall with teachers and stuff.”
Fear of the unknown caused some nervousness for some freshmen Monday morning.
“I was nervous. I thought I was going to get lost, too,” Allen said.
Saunders was self-conscious, wondering what her classmates would think of her.
“You get used to it, you just get out of your shell,” she said.
High school wasn’t quite what De’Twan Harrison expected, but he said it was still a “great day.”
“I used to watch high-school TV shows, “90210,” so I thought it was going to be like that,” Harrison said. “It’s not exactly like that.”
Easter Taylor’s math class was the favorite class of the first day for Day, Allen, Harrison and Saunders.
“As long as we get our work done, she’ll goof around with us,” Harrison said, of Taylor.
“Coming to band and playing the drums and all the instruments” was Demetrius Blackwell’s favorite class of the day. Michael Thomas is the band director.
“It was a productive day,” said Robert Batts, principal at North. “You could tell that the kids were excited about seeing each other again, the teachers were excited about seeing them.”