With her Little Miss Seahawk crown set carefully on a cloth next to her cafeteria tray, Franklin County fourth grader Adacyn Cruse prepared to fill out her sample tasting form at last week’s open house.
Before her sat a plate chock full of samples of everything from “Big Daddy” pizza, to a chicken sandwich, to pizza, and taco and chips.
Did she love it, like it or dislike it?
Cruse didn’t circle any of the frowning faces that would have indicated she disliked something.
The hamburger she liked, and she had “no problem with the vegetables,” the corn and the green beans.
The hot dog, though, more like a pig in a blanket since it was wrapped in a breaded coating, Cruse didn’t give much of a chance.
“I don’t like corn dogs,” she said.
The pizza, too, she wrote off before giving it a thorough taste test.
“It smells spicy,” she said. “Sometimes they put spicy stuff on the pizza.”
The lunchrooms’ product sampling program for both kids and parents, which Food and Nutrition Services Director Terry Hilton said some Leon County administrators hoped to duplicate there, was one of several working parts of the Aug. 9 Open House, which drew an attendance by families that teachers said was one of the largest start-of-school events they could recall.
Transportation Director Bud Strange was on hand to answer questions about the five Apalachicola bus routes, and the five in Carrabelle and four in Eastpoint, that pick up kids as early as 6:30 a.m. in Sumatra, and as far away as Alligator Point, and all places in between.
“I’ve been filling out a whole bunch of paperwork,” said Lexa D-Agostino, making sure her daughter Mia was all signed up for Kindergarten.
“The first day I’m going to drive you,” she told Mia. “The rest you’re going to take the bus, like a big girl.”
That prospect seemed all right with Mia, who sat patiently while her little sister Brinly scampered about.
When Lyndsay Cowan brought her third grade son Demontae to the bus route table, her mother, Christine Dalton made a point of telling Strange that she expects to kept informed if her grandson misbehaves.
“If you get in trouble,” she told Demontae. “You’re going to be in trouble.”
The 8-year-old got the message. It turns out he’s not a big troublemaker, but he does have a habit of standing up when he isn’t supposed to.
“It’s usually for not sitting down when the bus is moving, or isn’t,” he said.
Demontae claimed he doesn’t like school, preferring video games and baseball, but his mom said his grades say otherwise. He was on the A/B honor roll last year.
Mike Todd, one of the district’s most experienced teachers and coaches, was on hand to share with parents what he would be doing in his role as elementary phys ed teacher.
Motion exercises and conditioning will be on tap, in order to build up motor skills, with the kids engaged in everything from jump rope to relay races.
“The younger ones we don’t have a problem motivating them,” said Todd. “They just love to run.”
The classes will be structured but not competitive, focusing on skill development.
The school board this past summer supported a school administration proposal to drop the requirements for school shirts, and instead implement a revised, more detailed dress code.
That idea sits well with Carrabelle’s Brittany Smith, who was on hand with her third grader Madison Martin, her second grader Katie Martin, her first grader Gracie Martin and her 3-year-old Jozlyn.
“I like it in the long run,” Smith said. “They get to express themselves, they get to be unique. Plus the shirts were cheap; they didn’t last.”
For Maddie, it’s going to be easier for her and her sisters to find clothes in the morning. “I would have to go through everything to find a school shirt,” she said. “We have a lot of clothes.”
Smith is also pleased that daughter Katie is going to be in Miss Joyner’s second grade class. “She is an amazing teacher,” mom said. “She is an awesome teacher.”
Smith’s weekdays now begin about 5:30 a.m., and a half-hour after that she wakes the girls up and has them out the door by 7 a.m. so they can catch the 7:05 a.m. bus.
Like so many others around Florida, the district is emphasizing safety this year. Former Assistant Principal Rob Wheetley has been moved to the job of school safety specialist. Michael Sneed Jr. has been hired as assistant principal.
The school resource deputies on hand this year will be supervised by Lt. Gary Martina, and they include Deputy Stella Bryant at the Apalachicola Bay Charter School, with Deputies Brock Johnson and Wayne Nash, patrolling the Franklin County campus as well as the alternative school on rotation. Sheriff A.J. Smith also is requiring all deputies on duty in the Eastpoint area to drive through the campus throughout the day during school hours.
Seventeen new teachers have been hired at Franklin County School, said Human Resource Director Karen Peddie, with four vacancies remaining, in Spanish, ESE, Media and Elementary.
“We are excited to be adding to our school’s diverse faculty and staff,” said Principal Jill Rudd. “The new educators have spent two days participating in the PAEC New Educator training and then had one day of New Educator training at our school.
“Our newest educators range from brand new teachers, who have just graduated from college with an abundance of ideas pertaining to the newest trends, to veteran teachers, who will bring knowledge and ideas from other districts to enhance our students’ education,” she said.