Teachers John Keller and Cheryl Bachmann greet Kent County High School ninth-graders as they enter the building Tuesday morning, Sept. 5.
ROCK HALL — Summer vacation for Kent County Public Schools ended with the Labor Day holiday, as students returned to classrooms this week.
The school doors reopened Tuesday morning, Sept. 5, with teachers and staff greeting students and families.
As has been tradition, Kent County High School and Kent County Middle School opened to their youngest students on that first day, giving freshmen and sixth-graders an opportunity to see their new buildings without their older peers.
Upperclassmen at the middle and high schools returned Wednesday, Sept. 6.
Galena, H.H. Garnet and Rock Hall elementary schools welcomed all first- through fifth-graders on Sept. 5. Prekindergarten and kindergarten students will have their first day Thursday, Sept. 7.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Couch made it her priority to visit every school on Sept. 5.
"It was wonderful to be greeted by such cheerful staff and students! The positive energy and school climate I experienced in our schools today was truly refreshing," Dr. Couch said. "Everyone appears to be focused on having a great year."
H.H. Garnet Elementary School Principal Brenda Rose greeted students, answered questions and heard summer vacation stories as she welcomed them back to school Tuesday morning, Sept. 5.
Families got a preview of schools and classrooms during open houses held Thursday, Aug. 31. They visited classrooms, met teachers and dropped off school supplies.
At Kent County Middle School, families were greeted at the open house by the new administrative team of Principal Mark Buckel and Assistant Principal Kelley Melvin.
Both are longtime Kent County Public Schools team members who began their careers in the classroom as teachers.
Kent County Middle School Principal Mark Buckel welcomes a student back to school with a fist bump Wednesday morning, Sept. 6, the first day back to school for seventh- and eighth-graders.
"I'm overjoyed at being named principal of Kent County Middle School. I am excited to get back into the building and spend time daily with our wonderful children," Buckel said. "My vision is to build the Kent County Middle School culture and climate so that it fosters an environment conducive to learning."
On the first day of school Sept. 5, Kent County High School Principal Kris Hemstetter began with an assembly for ninth-graders in the auditorium.
"This is going to be your home away from home, so we want you to be excited," she told the freshmen in a talk that covered the ins and outs of the high school.
There are a number of changes in the school system's operations for families to be aware of.
This year, student meals are free at all five schools through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program.
There is still a charge for snacks and additional food like second meals beyond the initial breakfast and lunch.
Families are asked to fill out an Educational Benefits form for their children this year.
The form provides the school system with information previously captured through the Free and Reduced Price Meal application. That information is used when applying for grants and other program funding.
The Educational Benefits form is available at kent.k12.md.us/FoodService.aspx.
Students enjoy their breakfast in Brooke Joyner's classroom at Galena Elementary School on the first day of school.
Also this year, there has been a change to the times for all three elementary schools.
The arrival time at the three elementary schools is 8:35 a.m., with instruction beginning at 9 a.m. Elementary school dismissal will start at 3:25 p.m. for walkers and 3:40 p.m. for bus riders.
Doors open at both the middle and high schools at 7:25 a.m. and dismissal begins at 2:25 p.m.
This year, early dismissal days will be half days.
Instead of students being dismissed 90 minutes early, the school day will end three hours early. That is 11:25 a.m. for the middle and high schools and 12:25 p.m. for the elementary schools.
Rock Hall Elementary School teacher David Jachimowicz introduces himself and welcomes students back to school Tuesday morning, Sept. 5.
In an effort to better connect with students and families, KCPS has updated its website and mobile app.
The website — www.kent.k12.md.us
— has been optimized for viewing on screens of all sizes, from desktops to smartphones.
The mobile app has gotten a facelift with new graphics and icons. Families can find the latest KCPS news and notifications, as well as cafeteria menus, times and more.
"The app has been a go-to for the school system as an alert service since its launch," said Dan Divilio, KCPS public relations and communications specialist. "But with this refresh, users have even more information available on a quick loading app."
Just search "Kent County Public Schools" on either to find the KCPS app.