The Franklin County Schools got off to a smooth start Monday, with a giant assortment of students, all shapes and sizes, all different colors of hair, skin and eyes, all different ages, beginning the 2019-20 school year in good spirits.

Speaking of hair, Franklin County sixth grader Kristian Strahan was one of the many students who got their hair cut at one feature of Thursday’s well-attended orientation - haircuts by stylists from Southern Belles Hair Salon in Eastpoint. In addition, Pancare offered physicals, Cone Distributing helped give out school supplies (see story page A8), kids got to sample cafeteria food and of course they met their teachers.

Strahan wanted a "pixie wedge," a layered bob, but she and mom agreed to settle for shoulder length. "It was long and heavy," said Kristina. "Too many knots in it every day."

Stylist Brittany Turner said an increasing number of girls are opting for shorter hair. “We do a lot of short, short cuts,” she said, noting that it often helps them when playing sports.

Teachers at FCS, of which there, together with other staffers, about 19 new ones, were excited about the upcoming year.

Among them will be Temolyn Wintons, a former Miss Florida Seafood, who is returning home to teach middle and high school performing arts. Both vocal music teacher Melinda Lombardino and band teacher Zack Wilson left after last year, so the shape of the vocal music program, and whether there will be a marching band, are still to be determined.

Among the 19 new staff members were two Seahawk alumni, Aaliyah West from Class of 2015, and Adrienne Croom from Class of 2007. West will teach sixth grade math and Croom fourth grade.

Other returning Seahawk family members include Laura King, the K-6 instructional coach; Jennifer Moses, the middle and high school instructional coach; Tawanda Bowen, the K-5 inclusion teacher; Lael Thompson, elementary paraprofessional; and Karen Ward, elementary guidance counselor.

In addition to the teaching changes, Jamie Duhart, who taught social studies and served as the union rep, has been hired as assistant principal.

The Apalachicola Bay Charter School has also added a new art and performing arts instructor, Ronda Verges, to serve a population of pre-K through eighth graders that is bursting at the seams.

Principal Chimene Johnson said the school’s population is at 392, about 17 more than last year, with its largest ever number of middle schoolers, including 44 in the seventh grade, and 44 in sixth grade.

“There are still some students on the waiting list,” she said.

The school has added six new teachers, including Tammy Shepherd for pre-Kindergarten, Jennifer Sterling for Kindergarten, Katie Bergthold for second grade, Laura Canas for third grade, Gayle Hartness for sixth and seventh grade language arts, and Katie Ward for sixth grade math and science.

In addition the school has and two new teacher assistants at the elementary school, Emily Gay and Gracyn Butler.

"We are looking forward to a great year," said Johnson. "Teamwork was the key to pulling all things together this summer to make everything ready for a wonderful school opening. I am very excited about what this year holds.

"The first day students walked in with enthusiam and happy faces, greeting old friends and new teachers," she said. "We had almost 100 percent in attendance."