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SCV students head back to school for new year

Posted: August 12, 2014 6:05 p.m.
Updated: August 12, 2014 6:05 p.m.

Mia Valdes gets ready to head off to 3rd grade as she gets a kiss from mom, Gladys, on the first day of school at Dr. J. Michael McGrath Elementary School in Newhall on Tuesday. Signal photo by Dan Watson.

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It was back to school Tuesday, at least at five Newhall School District campuses, and if the mood at Dr. Michael McGrath Elementary School was any indication, it’ll be a good year.

About 750 students headed to their 8 a.m. classes Tuesday at the campus on Deputy Jake Drive in Newhall, many of them walking with parents.

Among the first person many met was Joyce, the crossing guard who works the Valle Del Oro and Deputy Jake Drive intersection. She personally welcomed each child and wished each a great day at school.

“Every kid is greeted that way,” said her fellow guard, Andrea. “She is the Queen of Crossing Guardom.”

As the parents and their children made their way onto the campus, they were met by several of the school’s staff members and administrators who were ready to help with any inquiries.

“We provide as many people out here as we can to help,” said Assistant Principal Alberto Paredes. “We do our best in making it as smooth as possible for students and their families.”

Principal Larry Heath was also among those out helping families and spreading enthusiasm.

“I’m really excited about the kids coming back,” Heath said. “We’ve been expecting them for several weeks now, and we just want to get started.”

On Wednesday Saugus Union School District’s students head back to classes, along with the rest of the Newhall School District students. On Thursday the rest of Santa Clarita Valley’s kindergarten-through-12th-grade public school district students will be back in class.

The year will be one of change at many Santa Clarita Valley schools as students become familiar with new technology and adopt new academic standards that include revised student assessment guidelines.

Both parents and children at McGrath Tuesday recognized looming academic challenges.

Single mother Eliane Lima knows her fifth-grader’s favorite subject is math, but she wants to help her daughter embrace reading as well.

“I tried to push Alexys to do book reports but it’s hard,” said Lima. “I have to pay her a dollar a page to get her to read.”

Sixth-grader Lauren Mendoza said she has the opposite problem.

“I hope to improve on math,” she said.

Third-grade teacher Leslie Caldwell is one of many at McGrath Elementary ready to equip students in “newer” and “more practical” ways of teaching, part of a revised educational standards called Common Core State Standards.

She said she believes the new system and another program called “Imagine It” will help teachers teach literacy more effectively.

Paredes said McGrath is putting three teachers into a single classroom this year, allowing “teachers to target the academic needs of students.”

Tiffany Anzalone was among the parents sending their children off to kindergarten for the very first time Tuesday.

“I had a little bit of a tear session after she went to bed last night,” Anzalone said of her daughter, Sophia. “As a mom, it’s a milestone, and I’m kind of emotional.”

Fellow kindergarten parent Alex Acuna said there were some waterworks at his house, too.

“I think her mom cried more than she did,” Acuna said of his wife and daughter, Eden.

Parents Michael and Lindalee Reder stood on the sideline as they watched their two children, one in third grade and one in fifth, socialize with other arriving students.

“They have been wanting to go to school for the past week now,” said Michael Reder. “This is the first year they get to walk to school by themselves.”

He added, “They just get too old too early.”

 

 

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