“At Agnes Risley (Elementary School) they opened the doors at 8:30 a.m. and you would think they were opening the doors to a rock concert,” Washoe County School District Public Information Officer Victoria Campbell said. “The kids streamed in, ran to their teachers with hugs and welcome backs; they were just so happy and excited to be back.”
Beginning at 5:45 a.m., WCSD Trustees and Superintendent Traci Davis welcomed back students and faculty to kick start the 2016-17 school year on Monday.
“I watched the sun rise with my people,” Davis said.
Spending the first half of her morning in Sparks, Davis started her day at the WCSD Central Transportation Yard on Kleppe Lane.
“There was a lot of excitement from the bus drivers,” Davis added. “The buses were all early to pick up thousands of kids,” Campbell said. Campbell also mentioned that the 298 drivers within the WCSD drive enough miles in the buses to go to the moon and back 20 times.
Along with greeting students, Davis and the WCSD also discussed the return to school, safety measures and transportation programs and school overcrowding.
Although the district cannot oppose or support the initiative on the November ballot asking voters to fund a multi-million dollar bond to increase the capacity of schools, Davis has addressed the needs of what would happen if the funding goes through or doesn’t. Those in favor of the measure say that if the initiative doesn’t pass in November, WCSD could implement double sessions and a year-round schedule.
But no matter what happens, “We will take care of the 65k students and make it a safe, equitable place for everyone,” Davis says.
WSCD Trustees and staff then ventured over to Shaw Middle School in Sparks to greet students as they arrived for a 7:30 a.m. start, where the superintendent participated in crossing walk duty with staff. “Some of the kids are ready for school, some are not,” said Davis. “One kid talked about how she was already halfway through the new Harry Potter book.”
Most kids spent their summer vacation spending time with family, going on trips and relaxing. She said that there were a lot of happy, smiling faces and great energy of kids milling around with new clothes and backpacks.
Along with Principal Tammy Hart, Davis visited the older students at Spanish Springs High School to welcome students back to school for an 8 a.m. start. Davis says that preparation for graduating from high school starts as early as pre-K. The WCSD sent out letters to parents informing them about what to expect for upcoming school year with resources and keeps the communication going all throughout 2020. Davis added that while the WCSD gets caught up in the excitement of the first day of school, the district stays focused on the goal of getting kids to college and career-ready.
As a former teacher and principal, Davis also enjoyed seeing the work that fellow principals, staff and custodians put in to making the facilities look clean, fresh and ready for learning. Davis then visited Agnes Risley Elementary School to join Principal Amy Wright in helping to ease students and families into their first day.
Their last stop in Sparks before heading over to Reno was at the Sparks Middle School, where they celebrated their 50th anniversary last spring. It is one of the oldest schools in the district.
“I had the opportunity to talk to kids and staff; they have such a strong student voice and they are doing some truly amazing things. I encourage anyone to visit the Sparks Middle School,” Davis says.
WCSD is the second largest school district in Nevada serving 93 learning establishments in Sparks, Reno and the unincorporated areas of Gerlach, Verdi and Incline Village. The majority of the 65,000 students enrolled in WCSD schools went back to school on Monday, Aug. 8.
“This morning went very smoothly with lots of teaching and learning already going on,” Campbell said. “It’s a good first day,” Davis said.