Preparations have been underway for hundreds of parents, students and teachers, along with school administration in the valley, to ready for the first day of instruction at Nye County School District schools.
With those plans in place, at least 3,900 students made their way to southern Nye County Schools on Monday, according to Nye County School District estimates. Those estimates were not inclusive of all programs in the district.
Tosca Arntz, special education teacher at Pahrump Valley High School, said she was excited for the school year from her classroom at the high school before students arrived.
“I love teaching,” she said. “It’s a little bit like being a magician. You have to fascinate those kids and just inspire them for the unknown so that they aspire to learn new things without actually knowing what is the end result? I think that’s my job, and I’m excited to do that.”
Arntz has been in education for nine years and is working on her master’s in educational leadership; she is doing her internship at the high school. Arntz has worked as an educator in Germany, Las Vegas and Pahrump.
Middle school newcomers
Shortly after exiting her vehicle at Rosemary Clarke Middle School early Monday morning, local resident and mother Lesa Chandler snapped a photo of her son and daughter prior to escorting the siblings on campus.
It was her daughter Destiney’s first day as a sixth grader, and Chandler, new to Pahrump, wanted to capture the special moment.
“I’ve already enrolled Destiney here at Rosemary Clarke Middle School, and my son, Damarion, is attending the third grade at Manse Elementary School,” she said. “Things are going okay this morning so far. During summer break, they didn’t really do much, so we just kind of hung out as a family. It was not a problem to get back into the swing of things this morning.”
Similar words were uttered by Pahrump resident Terry Graham, whose son T.J. is attending the school as a newcomer to the sixth grade.
Graham noted that his son was very eager to attend classes on Monday.
“He’s just starting out today in the sixth grade here,” Graham said. “Getting back into the swing of things after summer break went pretty smooth this morning. T.J. wasn’t scared or intimidated. He seemed very excited this morning and I am excited for him as well. We wanted to drop him off for his first day, but he will be taking the bus to school.”
For students who were a bit anxious or apprehensive about the new school year, and a new school, Nye County School District Assistant Superintendent Kyle Lindberg was on campus to help ease their nervousness.
Lindberg also noted that for the first day of classes after summer break, things appeared to run smoothly at the campus.
“Obviously we’ve got a lot of kids coming in and they are excited to be back in school,” he said. “There’s also a bit of timidness because the sixth graders are all brand new here. I kind of station myself in front of the sixth grade building where I can help soothe some of those issues and guide them to where they need to be.”
Additionally, Lindberg said there were some parents who actually had to register their children on the first day of school.
“We had about 30 right now who have registered their kids today, but the kids who were here last year in Nye County, automatically roll up,” he said. “Those kids are going to their respective buildings to find out where the classes are if they were unable to attend our open house last Thursday.”
High school preparations
High school students in Pahrump also poured into the classroom on Monday where educators were readying to help students plan for the future.
“We create goals together, and we see where we have to work toward those goals,” Arntz said. “We do a lot of surveys—where their needs are, where their interests are.”
Arntz also pointed to the Nevada Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs as something that helps students plan for the future.
According to information on the high school’s website, “the Gear Up program offers many services to increase basic academic skills that will enable your child to succeed in post-secondary education and career choices.”
Under Gear Up, students visit colleges, so they are introduced to college life, according to the high school’s website.
People such as college coaches, financial aid speakers, college faculty, alumni and guest speakers visit the high school campus under the Gear Up program.
On Friday, families joined educators, staff and others for freshman orientation, which was followed by an open-house event.
Jennifer Ehrheart, principal at Pahrump Valley High School, led the discussion with some expectancies of students entering high school.
“No. 1 is, we expect success out of every single student in this room, and we are going to work with you to make sure that that happens,” Ehrheart said.
Ehrheart noted that students in the previous school year had successes in improving their grades.
“That was by working hard with our students and making sure that you took the time to do what you needed to do to be successful,” she said to a room full of families and future freshman students.
Ehrheart also encouraged students to get involved, noting that students who do get involved are more likely to graduate than those students that don’t.
The last thing Ehrheart noted was to have fun and get to know peers, teachers and others at the high school.
“The last thing is to have fun; get to know your peers. Have positive relationships with the staff. Get to know your teachers, the custodian, principals. We are all here because we love being here,” Ehrheart said. “We have to get the chance to get to know you, and you have to get the chance to get to know us. Introduce yourselves. Tell us a little bit about yourself if you see us in the hallway, the courtyard. We want to help you, and you’re important to us.”
Hitting the roads
Another issue Lindberg spoke about on Monday was that of the district’s responsibility to transport students to and from school Monday through Friday.
Overall, transportation went well this morning, but we did have a few buses that showed up a little bit late,” he said. “Obviously for some drivers, it was the first time running their particular route, but each day gets a bit better. We really didn’t have a lot of kids ride the buses today because it’s the first day for our sixth graders and a lot of the parents preferred to drop them off themselves.”
Additionally, Lindberg wanted to remind commuters about the school buses returning to the area roadways.
“Now that we start school in early August, many here in the community are not aware that school is back in session, so they are not yet used to seeing the school buses back on the road, with their frequent stops. Obviously, motorists should exercise due care by keeping their eyes on the road to watch the buses’ flashing lights prior to their stops.”
Exercising caution/stiff penalties
As Lindberg was voicing his concern about student safety at bus stops and school campuses, a Nye County Sheriff’s Office motorcycle deputy was posted in front of the campus on North Blagg Road, looking for speeders.
“I also want to remind motorists that the sheriff’s deputies have increased their patrol around all of the school campuses,” he cautioned. “They are monitoring those speed zones, which are 15 miles per hour.”
Moreover, those cited for violations in school zones and bus stop routes, can expect to pay a hefty fine, as all motorists are required to stop when students are entering and departing the bus.
“They will first see the amber flashing lights, which will turn to red and that’s when they need to stop,” he said. “This is not just for the drivers behind the bus but also oncoming vehicles traveling in the opposite direction need to stop as well. The bus also displays its own stop sign. If you don’t come to a stop, and if the bus driver catches your license plate, you will be cited, because they will forward that information to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office.”
To avoid encounters with school buses as they pick up and drop off students throughout town, Lindberg urged motorists to get a slightly earlier start in the morning, if possible.
“The buses start at about 6:30 in the morning, so anyone who is trying to get from the north end to the south end may want to make sure they leave before 6:30 a.m.” he advised. “The elementary school buses start at about 7:20 a.m. There’s also about a gap from 7 a.m. to about 7:15 or 7:20 a.m. where the buses are not running, but they start hitting it again in the afternoon of course.”
Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Selwyn Harris at email@example.com