Students Back in Class

CAMERON – Students arriving to Cameron Elementary School Wednesday morning were greeted with high-fives and smiles as the faculty and staff welcomed them to their first day of school for the 2012-13 year.

The staff wore Cameron football jerseys with their names on the back and formed a tunnel for students being dropped off at the curb to walk through as they entered the building. A live band provided the backdrop for the official kickoff, which followed an Olympic theme that will be implemented over the course of the school year.

The Olympic theme, held in conjunction with the ongoing Summer Olympics in London, has each class picking a country to represent during the year. Lessons will be incorporated involving those countries to provide multi-cultural education, and athletic and academic games will be held at different points in the year. Students will win medals for participating in those games, which are intended to promote team building.

Wendy Clutter, principal at Cameron Elementary, said the staff wanted to make the first few days of school different for the students in an effort to get them excited for the year.

“We want to make sure we welcome each of them back to school and let them know we have a fun year planned for them,” Clutter said in between greeting students Wednesday.

Down the road at Cameron High and Middle School, Principal Jack Cain said the faculty and staff have been working hard to prepare for the first day, which was in full swing just after 9 a.m. Wednesday.

“Everyone is excited to be back, including the students,” Cain said.

The morning was spent dealing with schedule changes, which Cain said were caused by planning for a move to the new Cameron High and Middle School complex outside of city limits. He said the schedules were created last year before a new completion date was set for Dec. 18.

“Some of the schedules had room numbers for the new school on them, so changes needed to be made there,” he said.

Additionally, classes like band and choir, which will be held in separate, designated rooms at the new school, share a space in the current building. Cain said logistical issues would be worked out this week, and the consensus is that faculty and students both are excited to make the switch to the new school this winter.

“We are all looking forward to it, especially the faculty,” he said. “Many of them want to take tours and get in there and see their rooms.”

Cain said he has seen an increase in the number of students this year, with 350 in grades 7-12. However, he attributed that to a larger-than-normal sixth grade class entering. He added there are few, if any, students enrolled this year in connection with natural gas drilling in the area.

And though it has only been implemented for a calendar year, the modified school schedule being used at schools in Cameron is already paying off, school principals said.

The modified school calendar was developed by Clutter and Cain.

The schedule created and implemented via a State Innovation Zone grant and aims to shorten the long summer and holiday breaks students typically have to allow for better information retention.

Clutter said during the last school year, attendance from students in the school, which contains grades K-6, improved, as did student discipline. She said in addition to the obvious changes, the overall success of students improved, though it is too soon to examine some data.

“It is too early for things like standardized test scores because you can’t really take anything away after only one year,” she said.