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Students answer the bell

Schools brim with energy to open the year after a summer full of question marks.

August 30, 2010|By Max Zimbert,

GLENDALE — Eighth-grader Vanuhi Khdryan heard the warning tone Monday outside Toll Middle School, but stuck around a few minutes waiting for her friends on their first day back from summer break.

"It's exciting to be back because you get to see your friends and new teachers," she said. "You get tired [of summer vacation]."

Glenwood Road — which, according to the state Department of Education, accommodates more than 4,300 students on their way to Toll Middle, Keppel Elementary and Hoover High School — was the scene of the usual hustle and bustle as school began Monday.

Glendale Unified officials said the opening bell was a success, a radical departure from last year when school was delayed during the Station fire.

"Everything has gone according to plan, and any issue we have with too many students in classrooms or too few students in a classroom, we're balancing out during the day," said Elena Heimerl, a district spokeswoman. "Everyone has had a really good attitude, and there's been a really collaborative spirit out there."


Families walked along Glenwood Road as crossing guards kept watch. At Keppel Elementary, families huddled around whiteboards that listed classroom teachers. Motorists shared the road, cutting down on double parking.

Glendale resident Sal Tipu and his two daughters found their Keppel classes quickly, he said.

"They like school," he said. "We're excited for our kids. We think this school is better than private school, to be honest."

Two miles east and three hours later, state Supt. Jack O'Connell joined Glendale Unified officials and families at R.D. White Elementary School to welcome students back to class, but also press state leaders to release federal stimulus funds.

Glendale Unified officials expect to receive up to $5 million, which was earmarked to rehire more than 40 laid-off teachers.

"We don't want the state doing a bait and switch," said Kim Fedrick, a parent at Keppel Elementary School. "The feds voted on it, the state needs to release it."

The rally featured several student classes flanking elected officials, parents and teachers who spoke in the school's quad.

Students, all of them younger than 12, said they were no strangers to budget cuts.

"It's cruel they laid off teachers," said Georgina Kregorian, a sixth-grader. "It's really sad to see our teachers get laid off."

Fifth-grader Lilia Vasghanian said understanding budget cuts is universal, not merely belonging in the domain of adults or elected officials.

"It was really interesting," she said after the rally. "We need more supplies, and there are too many kids in each classroom.

"Parents have to help; so do teachers. We all care, and I really thought this was important."

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