Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


July 31, 2013

Back to school

It has been many years since new year began in September

ASHLAND — Those of us who have passed the half century mark can remember when August was a month of long days in the sun, tanning ourselves at the pool, taking naps in the shade, playing ball with our friends and just goofing off in those days before the dreaded arrival of Labor Day.

In those days, Labor Day for children from 6 to 18 was not a time to celebrate the accomplishments of working men and women or the role of unions in increasing the pay and working conditions for all of us. Instead, Labor Day was a time for enjoying the last day of freedom before the start of yet another school year. For in those days, the school year always started on the Tuesday after Labor Day.

My how times have changed. Labor Day is still more than a month away, but for area school children, the school year will begin weeks before September arrives.

At midnight today, July will fade into August. Just a few hours later, children in Lawrence County will be boarding the big yellow buses to transport them to the first day of school. While children in Louisa and Blaine and Fallsburg will be getting the earliest start on the new school year, they will be soon followed by children in Boyd County and Fairview Independent on Aug. 7, students in Greenup County and Carter County on Aug. 8, those in the Ashland Independent and Russell Independent school districts on Aug. 14, and students in the Raceland-Worthington Independent school District on Aug. 15. Students at Rose Hill Christian School will be the last to begin the new school year, but even then, the first day of school will be on Aug. 19.

An early start

At least in recent years, Lawrence County has always been the first area school district to begin the school year. Superintendent Mike Armstrong says that’s because school calendars are no match for Mother Nature, and the chances are good that sometime in December or January the weather will turn foul, snow and ice will clog the roads and schoolchildren will remain home for days at a time.

“It’s our roads and our terrain. We have a number of roads where the sun never shines,” Armstrong said.

Devoting the entire month of August to school packs in vital instructional days unbroken by stretches of down time during which students forget some of their lessons. Front-loading the school calendar helps alleviate the regression and retention problem, Armstrong said.

Thus, while children and parents often complain about the school calendar reducing the time that used to be reserved for family vacations, many educators agree with Armstrong that having more school days when the weather is nice actually improves education. While there are some who still lobby for a return to the time when the school year went from Labor Day on the first Monday in September to Memorial Day on the last Monday in May, their calls fall on deaf ears. Even high school football seasons kick off before the first of September.

Need for caution

The start of a new school year means motorists need to use extra caution as students make their way to and from school in the early morning hours and during the times they are headed home, usually between 3 and 6 p.m.

Motorists need to know  they are required to stop whenever buses have their lights flashing and stop signs out while children are either boarding or deboarding. Even oncoming traffic on four-lane roads must stop for school buses unless the roadway is divided by a median. In this area, that means all traffic must stop for buses on such busy four-lane roads as most of  13th Street and Greenup Avenue in Ashland, Diederich Boulevard in Russell and Argillite Road in Flatwoods, and U.S. 23 in Catlettsburg. Bus drivers complain too many drivers of oncoming vehicles ignore the flashing lights on those busy highways. When they do, they not only are violating the law but also risking the lives of children getting on or off buses.

Many parents (or grandparents) drive their children to school in their personal vehicles and pick them up after school. For the safety of the students, it is important motorists exercise patience and keep their emotions under control during this sometimes tedious and frustrating time. It is critical that lower speed limits around schools be observed and enforced when students are arriving and departing.

While not so much in county school districts, many students in the Ashland, Fairview and Russell school districts still either walk or ride their bicycles to school. Children do not always use the best judgment when walking or riding their bikes. They sometimes dart into traffic from between parked vehicles or fail to look for oncoming vehicles when crossing the street. A fatal accident that occurred in Ashland during the 2009-10 school year is a grim reminder that even waiting for the bus can be dangerous. 

The most important part of the school day is the time students spend in the classroom, but all of us can play a role in making going to and from school safer. Help make this year a safe one.

Text Only
  • By a thread

    It took some last-minute political maneuvering by State Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-South Shore and some skilled wheeling and dealing to prevent a bill important to AK Steel in Ashland from ending up on the scrapheap of the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly.

    April 23, 2014

  • Along the river

    Here’s hoping the weather will be as close to perfect as possible on the evening of May 30, as members of the Paul G. Blazer High School class of 2014 gather on the banks of Ohio River for the school’s first graduation on the river that has helped fuel this community’s economy since the time when it was known as known as Poage’s Landing.

    April 22, 2014

  • Good opportunity

    Morehead State University is using a highly successful program for outstanding high school juniors and seniors at Western Kentucky University to launch a similar program beginning in the fall of 2015 on the MSU campus.

    April 20, 2014

  • What's next?

    While virtually all cities in northeastern Kentucky provide their residents with some utility services — water and sewer, mainly, and sometimes natural gas — to the best of our knowledge, Olive Hill is the only town in the FIVCO region with its own electrical company.

    April 13, 2014

  • 'Waited too long'

    Lt. Garlin Murl Conner left the U.S. Army as the second-most decorated soldier during World War II, earning four Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, seven Purple Hearts and the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during 28 straight months in combat.

    April 12, 2014

  • Enact HB 3

    The National Rx Drug Abuse Summit is under way hundreds of miles from eastern Kentucky in Orlando, Fla., but the three-day conference which runs through Thursday, was organized by Operation UNITE, the eastern Kentucky anti-drug group that knows all too well the devastating impact the prescription drug epidemic continues to have on this region.

    April 11, 2014

  • State officials cease efforts to stop advance of ash borer

    Kentucky’s war against the tiny emerald ash borer responsible for already killing more than 25 million ash trees in the eastern United States has ended in surrender — by state officials, not the tiny insect.

    April 8, 2014

  • Demise of apparel industry in Kentucky continues

    The steady demise of the once thriving clothing industry in small Kentucky towns continues with the latest factory to announce it is shutting down being one of the largest: Fruit of the Loom has announced it is closing its last remaining plant in Jamestown, a move that eventually will see the elimination of more than 600 jobs in the small town near Lake Cumberland.

    April 7, 2014

  • None on ballot

    The 2014 Kentucky General Assembly considered an unusually high number of proposed amendments to the Kentucky Constitution on such issues as casino gambling, the restoration of voting rights for convicted felons and the elimination of state and local elected offices.

    April 4, 2014

  • Time runs out

    Two bills proposed by House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins and designed to boost the economy of this region have apparently died in the Kentucky Senate after being approved by the House of Representatives. Despite easily being approved by the Democratic-controlled House, neither bill was even brought up for a vote by the Republican-controlled Senate.

    April 2, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
SEC Zone