It’s a big day in Loudoun County.
The school system’s 90 public schools welcome back a record 80,700 students—almost 3,000 more than last year’s enrollment—and thousands of other students will return to the county’s private schools and homeschool programs within the next week for a new academic year.
Not only does enrollment continue to steadily rise in Loudoun, the number of new school buildings does, too. This year, the county school system opens its 90th school, Brambleton Middle School.
“There’s a lot to look forward to,” Superintendent Eric Williams said. “I’m looking forward to the first day of school for all students, but also to see our latest new school in action. Pretty exciting.”
It’s a day of firsts for many in the county. More than 5,200 kindergartners will begin their school career today, Thursday, and it’s also the first day of classes for more than 800 newly hired licensed employees—mostly teachers—to bring the school system’s total number of employees up to 11,102.
And five schools will experience their own type of new beginnings with fresh faces in the principal’s office. Monica Kissel is the new principal at Kenneth W. Culbert Elementary, Mark Wertheimer takes the helm at Hillsboro Charter Academy, Rochelle Proctor is the new principal at Middleburg Community Charter School, Nick Cottone steps in as principal of Seneca Ridge Middle School, and Lenny Compton will lead J.L. Simpson Middle School.
Today is the first day of middle school for Gabriel Saines, who stopped by his new school, Farmwell Station Middle School, earlier this week to decorate his locker and get his class schedule. He didn’t mind admitting that he’s a little nervous to enter sixth grade after being so familiar with Dominion Trail Elementary School.
“There’s a whole lot of new things—new school, new buddies and friends,” he said. “I’m just trying to breathe, trying to stay calm.”
Just a few lockers down from Gabriel, Mallory Sultan could relate. The sixth-grader spent Monday decorating her locker with magnets, a marker board and photographs, and carefully organizing her notebooks and folders for each class.
“I’m a little nervous I won’t be able to find my classes or get to my locker between each class to get my books,” she said.
The school’s new policy requires students to keep backpacks in their locker and instead only take what they need for each class with them. How to hurry back to her locker during the five minutes between class bells was her big question this week.
Thankfully, her sister Gabby is a seasoned middle schooler who is entering seventh grade. “She said to just stay organized and not get stressed,” Mallory said.
The 11-year-old has also been on the other end of the advice, offering tips to her younger brother, Brock, who’s entering kindergarten. “I told him, listen to your teacher. And don’t be mean to other kids.”
Gabriel, 11, had a few words of advice for some of those 5,200 kindergartners who will experience elementary school for a first time. “Stay calm, go to the teacher—they know the ins and the outs of the building. And don’t be afraid to ask for help,” he said. “I hope you will do a great job.”
By the time the school year wraps up June 13, they’ll all be pros.