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School Days: Youth prepare for return

Tick, tick, tick. Summer break will end in just a few days, leaving many students with mixed feelings as the first day of school gets closer and closer.

Classes start Friday for all schools in Lawrence County except for the Dawson-Bryant district, which is delayed for construction and will begin Aug. 26; and Fairland, whose first day is Thursday.

Whether focused on summer ending, starting classes, mountains of homework or graduating for good, students in the county have varying opinions on what another school year brings.

"I want to spend as much time in summer as I can," said Mitchell Mullins, a fifth-grader at South Point Middle School.

Levi Hopkins, 13, is not looking forward to the early starts that come with the end of summer.

"I don't like getting up early," Hopkins, a seventh-grader at St. Joseph High School, said. "Today I slept until 10:30 (this morning) and I didn't stay up that late."

It will be hard waking up at 6 a.m., he said.

For Chesapeake freshman Shelby Pike, summer went by too fast.

"It kind of feels like summer just started and now it's our freshman year," the 14-year-old said.

One St. Joe freshman begs to differ.

"I'm about ready," George McCown said. "There's nothing much to do in the summer anymore after about the first month."

The 14-year-old said after the first month of summer he and his friends have already exhausted all activities except swimming and playing ball.

The feeling is mutual for Patrick Johnson who said he is just sick of summer and ready to go back to school.

Exciting, scary and new

The 12-year-old Johnson is moving up to the Ironton Junior High School and said he is excited because he knows many of the students there.

"I'm gonna know about all the eighth and ninth graders," he said.

Johnson said before the end of sixth grade the class was taken on a tour of the junior high where he met "about all" of the older students.

Eleven-year-old Harry Letchford is nervous about the idea of changing school buildings.

"I actually have mixed feelings," said Letchford, now an SPMS student. "I'm really afraid. I'm going into sixth grade and I'm really scared."

The sixth grader said he likes school but said the unfamiliarity of a different building frightens him.

Fellow sixth grader Ellie Johnson said she is most definitely ready for classes to start.

"We're going to have new teachers and I'm a sixth grader," the Ironton Middle School student said.

What makes sixth grade so appealing for her is what others have told the 11-year-old about field trips.

"We get to do a lot of new things there and at the end of the year we go to King's Island and Vesuvius," Ellie Johnson said.

For 5-year-old Natalee Hall, the whole experience of school is new.

"She's glad because she's going into kindergarten and I teach kindergarten so she'll be right there with me," said Kerri Hall, Natalee's mother.

When asked what she wanted to do at school, her reply was to "read books." Natalee Hall said she can't wait to learn how to read.

For other Chesapeake elementary and middle school students, there is also an appeal of newness with the buildings themselves.

Syndee Hall, who is going into third grade at Chesapeake Elementary, said the playground is what she is most excited to see. The 8-year-old has already been in the school but has not seen the playground.

Homework

The element that has been looming in the back of most students' minds is homework.

"I'm worried because in third grade it gets harder and you have to switch classes," 8-year-old Cole Willis said.

The Kingsbury Elementary student said he is worried about the tests in third grade, but he just really hates homework.

"The first day of class there's no homework, that's about the only thing I like about class," Willis said.

Fourth grader Samantha Nixon shares Willis' feelings about homework.

"I don't like doing homework," Nixon, a Rock hill Elementary School student, said.

"She's been told by upperclassmen that she'll have a lot of homework," the nine-year-old's mother, Shawna Nixon, said. "But that's not a bad thing, it prepares you for other grades."

Perhaps those upperclassmen include Mullins, who is only a grade above her at SPMS.

"A lot of the time they send homework home Monday through Thursday and not Friday, but last year it seemed like everyday," Mullins said.

Despite the warnings, Nixon said she is looking forward to school listing math, reading and art as some of her favorite subjects.

Looking ahead

Even though the first bell has not rang, some students are already thinking about the end.

"I just want to get school finished with," Alex Payne, an SPMS student, said. "I'm going into eighth grade so I'm getting close."

The 13-year-old said he cannot wait to graduate and is looking forward to next year when he will enter high school.

But for South Point senior Rebecca Mazzone, she is not quite ready for it all to be over.

"I'm excited because it's my senior year and excited to be top dog, but I don't want the summer to be over because it's the last summer before college," 17-year-old Mazzone said. "I don't want it to be over, but I'm excited to see my friends again. It's a big year."

Mazzone said she does well in school and is even in the running for valedictorian with a 4.0 gpa right now, but class has become mundane.

"It's all gotten so ho-hum," she said. "It's all the same."

Fortunately for her, and not so fortunate for others, school is not over yet - it is only just beginning.