Bond/Wesson Elementary: Day 1

As students in Leon County headed back to class Tuesday, children at Bond Elementary School boarded buses for the first time and cruised down Orange Avenue to their new digs at Wesson Elementary.

The two schools will share a campus until a brand new southside school is built and ready in 2006.

At Wesson Elementary, students in Miss Dunlap's second grade class are working on their reading skills, and while their routine really hasn't changed much, they now have hundreds of new classmates.

Teacher Tracy Dunlap says, "Some are excited because they have friends at Bond or family at Bond, but the ones that don't know students from Bond, they're a little nervous and ask a lot of questions."

Twenty six portables now dot the school grounds. More than 300 Bond Elementary School students have moved in and they’ll all be here together for the next year and a half.

Pam Hightower, Wesson Elementary Principal, says, “We talked to them in an assembly about the importance of team work and welcoming new people into our family. We told them to accept them as if they're new family members."

Ahrrea Williams, Bond Elementary Principal, says, "It's a change for them, but I do feel that kids are so resilient."

There are still boxes to unpack, computers to hook up, and both teachers and students must learn their way around a new campus.

Clara Hampton, a Bond second grade teacher, says, "I'm gonna give them a tour later in the morning to show them where the media center is, how to get to the cafeteria, where the other teachers are so they feel comfortable."

The students will study in separate classrooms, but they will have recess together and eat breakfast and lunch together in shifts that must now start before 10 a.m. to accommodate all the children. Except for a few snafus, day one is in the books as Bond and Wesson begin a merger never before tried in Leon County.

Among the snags, someone created confusion by moving a bus stop sign and about 10 students missed their bus altogether. A bus circled back to pick them up and will do so for the next few days until everyone gets used to the new routine.