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Local school bells to ring tomorrow

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It’s hard to believe summer is nearly over for local schoolchildren. While autumn doesn’t officially arrive until next month, on Monday morning, nearly 12,000 Lancaster County students will say goodbye to the carefree days of summer and return to the classrooms.
Last week, about 110 new district employees – from teachers to maintenance staff – gathered at the Lancaster County Golf Club’s Fairway Room to get acquainted with Lancaster County and its school district.
This week, school administrators and teachers are making last-minute preparations for the new school year. Their planning and preparation will pay off as they welcome the students back at drop-ins and open houses this week. If your child’s school is holding a back-to-school event, we encourage you to take your child to it. Meeting their teachers and seeing their classrooms will help them  feel more comfortable on the first day of school.
County sixth-graders and freshmen, who will all be moving into new school settings this fall, will get a sneak peek at their new schools Friday, Aug. 16, during a half-day orientation just for them. From 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day, they will get a chance to meet faculty and staff members, pick up schedules, learn locker combinations and familiarize themselves with their new schools.
All other students start school Monday, Aug. 19.
“I know our teachers and principals have spent large parts of their summer getting ready for this year’s ‘first day.’ I know parents have done the same thing,” Dr. Gene Moore, superintendent of Lancaster County School District, wrote in a 2012 column.
“And I know we both share the same dreams. We all want our children’s…anxieties to melt away as they become part of their new school or new grade.
“And we all – parents and educators – want every one of our children to succeed in school, to finish every school day loving learning and wanting to go back the next day for more.”
How can we help make that happen?
First, we need to realize that the first days of school are exciting, but sometimes anxious as well. There’s the anticipation of seeing old friends and making new ones. Some students are going to a new school. Some are going to school for the first time. So are some teachers.
Everyone involved has to go through a transition period. So it’s important for us all to be open-minded and maintain a good attitude as school begins. Be patient with each other as everyone gets used to their new situation.
As their child’s first teacher and ultimate role model, parents play a major role in their children’s education. Be supportive and involved in your child’s education. Help them settle into the school routine by getting enough sleep and eating  breakfast before they dash off to school in the morning. Little things, like laying out clothes the night before, finishing homework, packing backpacks, and having lunch money ready or lunch boxes packed, will help save time in the morning.
If you drive to school, be sure to leave home early enough to deal with the school traffic. Buses and vehicles will be picking up students and dropping them off  in the morning and reversing the process in the afternoon. And all of us motorists will be caught up in the back-to-school rush. So it is important we all practice caution. Drivers need to remember to slow down and be patient. Don’t pass stopped school buses. There will also be young drivers in the mix – some of them behind the wheel for the first time. Also watch out for students who are walking to school. Bus riders also need to practice safety. Don’t play in the road while waiting for the bus. And make sure the bus driver sees you get off the bus.
Please remember that today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. We all need to set a good example for them and help guide them. It will take the cooperation of all of us to make sure these future leaders get the education they need.