Emphasizing first-day fun

Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Resource officer Al Spencer splashed students while waiting to be dunked during the first day of school at Central Junior High School in Cape Girardeau. The students got to participate in the first-ever back-to-school picnic Monday. (Diane L. Wilson)

Cape Girardeau Central Junior High School students found Monday's first day of school to be a picnic.

Principal Roy Merideth and his staff held a back-to-school picnic on the junior high track and football field. Students were treated to bottled water, hot dogs, chips and ice cream.

Students eagerly waited in line for their chance to thank school administrators at the dunking booth.

"I am sopping wet," said Meredith after he finished his turn.

Meredith, who took over as junior high principal this year, planned the picnic as a way to get students excited about the start of school.

"It's just a celebration," Merideth said as hundreds of students chatted with friends and classmates behind the school. Music from a radio station van played in the background.

After a summer away from the classroom, the first day of a new school year can be difficult for students, he said. "They don't want to come back."

Monday's first day of school was less about book work and more about getting acquainted with teachers, staff and classmates.

Merideth wants students to think of school as fun and not an ordeal. He plans to hold various celebrations throughout the school year to spark student enthusiasm for learning.

Eighth-grader Roy Leighton liked the picnic food. "It's better than regular lunch," he said.

Seventh-grader Lindsey Kolb chatted with friends on the football field. She said she was thrilled with the first day of school. Classwork was minimal, and teachers didn't give homework.

The first-ever back-to-school picnic held on school grounds during the first day of school at Central Junior. High School in Cape Girardeau featured games and food. (Diane L. Wilson)

"We didn't have to do anything today," she said.

Kolb said she felt right at home at the junior high. "Everybody is really nice," she said.

The picnic was followed by a school pep rally featuring KFVS12 sports director Todd Richards.

Cape Girardeau public schools superintendent Dr. David Scala stopped by the picnic with a water bottle in hand to combat the hot, humid weather. By mid-afternoon, Scala had visited almost every school.

Though the school system is using a new bus company, everything appeared to go smoothly for the schools. More than 4,100 students from kindergarten to high school were enrolled in classes. "It was a good first day," Scala said.


335-6611, extension 123

First-day enrollment

Central High School: 1,389 students

Central Junior High School: 633

Central Middle School: 582

Jefferson: 338

Alma Schrader: 308

Blanchard: 301

Clippard: 289

Franklin: 220

Alternative School: 65

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