The Times photo by Betsy Reason
School buses are lined up at Noblesville Schools Transportation Center, ready for today’s first day of the 2019-20 school year.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason School buses are lined up at Noblesville Schools Transportation Center, ready for today’s first day of the 2019-20 school year.
It doesn’t seem possible that it’s the first day of eighth grade.
Where did the time go?
How could my daughter already be an eighth-grader?
She was just in diapers, learning to walk, cutting teeth and learning to ride her first bike.
Today, she got on the school bus, all mature, with freshly painted fingernails, curled hair and Birkenstock sandals.
We went school-clothes shopping last weekend with Grandma, in search of tops, mostly without logos or sayings, a new backpack and blue jeans.
I must admit it’s difficult to find blue jeans without holes in them. While other students wear jeans with holes in them to school, my daughter doesn’t. That’s one of my rules. No holes in the jeans. Although she picked out one pair of jeans with a torn hem.
When we were in the department store dressing rooms which, by the way, are unisex when you get into tween and teen clothing sizes at certain stores, there was another mom who I heard telling her daughter that she didn’t like a denim jacket with raveled hem.
So I didn’t feel so bad.
Even though my daughter was spending money leftover from her birthday, she has learned how to choose wisely in spending her money.
A year ago, entering seventh grade, she got on the school bus with newly pierced ears, new hair trimmed and new cell phone, all which she got for her 12th birthday near the end of the school year.
She also shopped for a backpack. She bought one that she thought she liked, and five minutes later she found one she liked more. So she bought the second one and quickly returned the first purchase.
Maybe she’s a little indecisiveness.
Maybe a little worried that others notice her appearance, particularly what she’s wearing, or carrying and the style of her hair.
She painted her fingernails yellow, then wasn’t sure if she liked the color.
She tried on school clothes multiple times Wednesday afternoon. Trying to decide what she would wear to school on the first day of classes today.
That’s just part of becoming a teenager.
The anticipation of returning to school this year seemed too much to wait. We, along with 8,000 other folks, on Friday attended Noblesville Schools’ Back to School Bash, where students got to say “Hello” to our Noblesville East Middle School principal Ryan Rich, and meet new dean of students, Gwen Gaw.
During the 2018-19 school year, my daughter’s NEMS seventh grade was the school’s largest class, with 430 students. I only know that her eighth grade class isn’t the school’s largest this school year, but rather Grades 6 and 7 are the largest grades throughout the district.
There will be seven new teachers at NEMS, including a speech language pathologist and a social worker.
There are also renovated restrooms and performing arts classrooms (choir room isn’t quite finished yet, so students will meet in the large group instruction room until completed) and repaved parking lots -- no more potholes -- at NEMS.
Classes will start and dismiss about an hour later, from 8:40 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. for middle and high school.
The new roundabout at Field Drive and Cumberland Road, according to the school district, will be open for traffic during school arrivals and dismissals on Thursday and Friday. Repaving will take place Saturday, and there may be closures during the school day until the work is finalized.
We will learn more about middle school during a special parents night on Aug. 12.
Each of the grades are divided by teams who are led by teachers who coordinate tests and homework. During our first year at NEMS, sixth-graders were divided up on four teams, West Point, Stanford, DePauw and Wisconsin. Seventh-graders were divided up on Butler, Franklin, Hanover, and Marian teams. And this year, eight-graders will be divided up on Ball State, Northwestern and Wake Forest teams.
A new student-advisory program that began last school year will also be part of this year’s schedule. Time is set aside for students to meet each week, this year, during student learning time, at the end of the school day, with an adult advocate. “They get to know each other, and they feel like they have somebody that they can go to and talk to,” Rich has said. “There’s a lot of research, especially in middle school, to support having an advisory time.”
When school starts today, counselors will be available as students need to talk with them. The district also has three new safety dogs that will serve all schools and be available during the school year.
Other news within the district?
-An adjusted school day will see elementary schools in session about an hour earlier, from 7:50 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.
-Tripled police presence will have dedicated school resource officers in every school and a school resource officer supervisor.
-New full-time safety director and mental health coordinator.
-New social workers at every school and additional school counseling staff.
-Full-time English language learner teachers added at all elementary schools.
-Racial equity and implicit bias training for staff.
-MillerCare+ iPad protection plan for all students.
-Yearlong, community-wide 150th anniversary, activities and celebrations honoring Noblesville Schools.
-New school board member Lisa Sobek.
-New partnership with Community Health to provide service with mental health and counseling, as well as school nursing and employee health clinic.
-There are 24 school buses equipped with storm-arm cameras for highest violation areas of drivers running past bus-stop arms, 12 new buses equipped with 360-degree view backup cameras for added external visibility and updated heating systems, and upgraded camera systems for safety on all buses, plus all buses are now equipped with air conditioning.
-Contact Betsy Reason at