Back to school

Standing in line at Oakview Elementary kindercamp

ASHLAND It was time to line up on the playground at Oakview Elementary School.

A pack of rising kindergartners quickly coalesced into two more or less straight lines.

In the next minute or two they demonstrated basic first-day-of-kindergarten skills: hands up to denote paying attention, hands down to show they can stand calmly and keep their hands to themselves. Forefinger on lips to signify keeping quiet.

School hasn’t even started and the children already know much of what they need to get the year off to a good beginning.

But school will start soon, with children returning to Northeast Kentucky schools Aug. 14 and 15.

The children were at the annual kindercamp offered at Ashland schools, a week of orientation so they will be ready to learn the first day of class.

“There are a lot less tears the first day when we have kindercamp,” assistant principal Kerri Thornburg said.

Kindergartners are not the only ones busy preparing for school to start.

Custodians and maintenance workers are getting buildings ready and teachers are dressing up their classrooms, placing furniture and decorating the walls.

First-year art teacher Bethany Crouch spent several hours one day last week creating a color chart on one of her bulletin boards at Boyd County Middle School.

The recent Morehead State University graduate had already learned one of the most important lessons for a successful teaching career: improvising with affordable materials. Crouch made the chart with paint color swatches she picked up at local hardware stores.

“Unofficially I’ve been working to get my classroom ready about since the day they hired me,” Crouch said. That was in June.

Crouch is not unique. “A lot of teachers are already getting ready. They’re already in their rooms. They’ve been working through the summer,” Thornburg said at Oakview.

School starts Aug. 14 in Ashland, Boyd County, Greenup County and Russell.

The first day for Fairview and Raceland is Aug. 15. Carter County schools start earlier; the first day for that district is Thursday.

Some districts are holding orientations and other events. Ashland Middle School’s back-to-school event is today.

Russell-McDowell is hosting a third-grade ice-cream social Tuesday and back-to-school events for fourth and fifth grades Wednesday.

Russell Middle School’s sixth-grade jump start and Russell High School’s freshman orientation are Thursday.

Greenup County’s events include:

Argillite Elementary — kindercamp 9 noon Tuesday and Wednesday, back-to-school picnic 5-6:30 p.m. Aug. 12.

Greysbranch Elementary — open house 5-6:30 p.m. Aug. 12.

McKell Elementary — kindercamp 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday and Thursday, open house 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12.

Wurtland Elementary — kindercamp 9 a.m. to noon today and Tuesday; meet and greet 5-7 p.m. today.

McKell Middle — sixth grade jump start 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, seventh- and eighth-grade schedule pickups 8a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, open house 5-7 p.m. Aug. 19.

Wurtland Middle — sixth grade orientation 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, seventh- and eighth-grade schedule pickups 5-7 p.m. Thursday.

Greenup County High School — freshman and senior schedule pickups 1-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. Thursday, sophomore and junior schedule pickups 1-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. Friday, ice cream schedule 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

(606) 326-2652 |

Mike James is The Independent's education reporter. He has covered news in Northeast Kentucky since 1996.