Day No. 1 is in the books! And it went as smooth as can be

PUNXSUTAWNEY — If you were out driving during the day on Tuesday, you might have noticed the large black-and-yellow buses were out picking up and dropping off kids, as the first student day of classes in the Punxsutawney area began.

Everything went pretty well for the first day of classes in the Punxsutawney Area School District, said Dr. Keith Wolfe, district superintendent.

Wolfe said there weren’t any issues on the buses on Tuesday morning.

“I was out to some of the schools, and they were doing their first day assemblies,” he said. “There were some nervous looking kids at the middle school first thing this morning, which is where I began my day of traveling throughout the district.”

Wolfe said many kids stress out about having new teachers and, sometimes, moving to a new school.

“Some teachers with many years of experience in the classroom still have anxiety on the first day of classes,” Wolfe said, adding that much of the stress comes from not knowing the students and how everything is going to go.

He said with fourth grade now beginning its fourth year at the middle school the elementary students have adapted to that change very well every year so far.

“I think it’s the development of a culture. There are some districts that bus their students from K-12, which is the norm for that, while other districts only bus elementary students or secondary grade students,” he said.

“Anytime you have a change like that, it’s a change in culture, and it takes time for everybody to get adjusted to that,” Wolfe said.

He said over the last 22 years, he has seen that students are the ones who adjust to change much more easily than the adults do.

“When I taught in a building that was on a regular five day per week schedule, and then it was switched to a six-day cycle, it was the adults who had a hard time with it,” he said.

“The students caught onto the change right away; it was the adults who had difficulties,” Wolfe said, adding that since he is beginning his third year as the Punxsutawney superintendent, there has not been a problem with fourth grade at the middle school.

Wolfe said the biggest problem at the middle school is that there are two different schedules, with the seventh graders having to attend class for 990 hours and grades 4-6 only requiring 900 hours of instruction.

He said another area that continues to run smoothly is the district’s school buses.

“I credit a lot of that to Cheryl Repik, district transportation director; she does a great job,” he said.

“You can ask her about a student, where the stop is and if the bus stop has easy access or it doesn’t,” Wolfe said, adding that it’s amazing how much she knows about the district’s transportation off the top of her head.

He said there’s a period of time in the morning or the afternoon when traffic has a tough time moving around because the buses have shown up and are dropping off and picking up students. Parents are also picking students up, and the walkers are crossing the street.

“I think that story we did last week in The Spirit and other media outlets really helped to alert motorists that there will be more traffic to deal with beginning this week,” he said.

“It was amazing to me how much more traffic there was on the road this morning, as opposed to Monday,” Wolfe said.

He said now that day one is in the books, it’s onto the second day of classes today.