By Kevin Kelley
Despite having to start school a week earlier than was the case in previous years, Westlake High School students appeared to be taking the dreaded first day of school in stride.
“It’s great,” sophomore Mark Iceman said while having lunch in the school cafeteria Thursday. “We get out earlier.”
Fellow sophomore Alli Collins dissented, describing the early start as “not good.”
Senior Mac Bilski concluded that grousing about it served no purpose.
“It’s when you start,” he said. “You really don’t have a choice.”
Construction work on the new Westlake High School, being built adjacent to the current school, is the reason for the earlier start this year. Westlake City School officials say they will need a longer summer recess to move into the new building and tear down the existing school before the start of the 2013-14 school year. The Performing Arts Center and an existing auxiliary gym will remain as part of the newly configured Westlake High School campus.
Westlake High Principal Tim Freeman said most staff members and students were quickly getting into the groove of a new school year.
“Since the summer was so short, it seems like they never left,” Freeman said.
The first day began with assemblies for sophomores, juniors and seniors. The seniors learned about their upperclassman privileges, such as being able to leave campus for lunch. That’s the last year such a privilege will be given to seniors, Freeman said. The new high school will have enough room in the cafeteria for all the student body, he explained. Allowing seniors to leave campus
alleviated the crowding problem the school experienced during lunch periods, he said.
“We’re very excited about having some elbow room next year,” the principal said of the larger new school.
Alex Lamorgese, a senior, told West Life he knows he and his class will miss out on the benefits of the new school building.
“But being the last class (in the current building) is cool, too,” he added.
The traffic patterns instituted last year at the high school to accommodate the construction work remain in effect, Freeman said.
“Despite all the construction, for them it’s business as usual,” the principal said of his students’ return.
The biggest snafu students experienced last week had nothing to do with the construction work or the early start of school. Several students could be heard expressing confusion over their class schedule, which did not always list a student’s periods in chronological order.
The problem, Freeman explained, resulted from a change instituted by the North Coast Council, a consortium that handles data processing for the Westlake City Schools. A new system that prints out class schedules listed a student’s lunch period out of chronological order from his or her other classes.
Several students also had to ask faculty members where the “SC” was. Formerly a conference area located off the library, the student center was converted to classroom use two years ago, Freeman explained.
The first day of school also coincided with the birthday of Mrs. Pease, a school lunch lady. Special education assistant Jim Egan led students in the singing of “Happy Birthday” to the cafeteria employee.