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Oklahoma City Public Schools welcomes back thousands of students on the first day of school

Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu was on hand to greet principals, teachers and children returning from summer break.
by Tim Willert Modified: August 4, 2014 at 8:32 pm •  Published: August 5, 2014


photo - Oklahoma City Public School Superintendent Rob Neu sits down to eat breakfast with third graders in Jane White's classroom at Mark Twain Elementary in Oklahoma City Monday, Aug. 4, 2014.  Photo by Paul B. Southerland, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City Public School Superintendent Rob Neu sits down to eat breakfast with third graders in Jane White's classroom at Mark Twain Elementary in Oklahoma City Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. Photo by Paul B. Southerland, The Oklahoman

Nevaeh Wallace clammed up as soon as she laid eyes on Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu.

Neu greeted a group of Mark Twain Elementary School students Monday morning as they walked to their bus stop near the corner of NW 2 and Klein. All but Nevaeh, 8, said they were excited about the first day of school.

“Don’t be afraid. I’m your new superintendent,” Neu said. “Well, I’m excited for you for your first day. Is that fair? I can be excited for you?”

Nothing.

Then Neu asked the kids if he could ride the bus with them, and the girl broke her silence.

“You can sit with me,” she said.

At Mark Twain, Charlie Hicks, 9, and his mother walked the halls of the school looking for his fourth-grade classroom.

“My goodness. I think I’m actually more excited for him than he is,” the mother, Kim Corbit, joked.

Charlie greeted new teacher Jacqueline Bailey, eyed his new desk and put his Spider-man backpack in his new locker.

“Basically it’s the same thing (as third grade) but harder, and it’s a new year,” the boy said. “I want to learn a lot, but I’m not sure what I want to learn.”

Neu, who has been on the job since July 1, visited several schools Monday. He compared the first day of a new school year with moving into a new house.

Only this house holds about 46,000 students.

“It’s just a massive undertaking,” he said during a stop at Prairie Queen Elementary School. “Once you move in, you realize there’s more work to be done.”

Attendance is up at Prairie Queen, 6609 S Blackwelder Ave., where the number of parents who waited until the first day of school to enroll their children was down, Assistant Principal Stephanie Spears said.

“This is pretty light,” Spears said as she surveyed the collection of parents lining up in the school’s office.

“I think a lot of parents really want their kids in this school, so they’re really making sure they come on time and on the day of enrollment.”

The school has an enrollment of 771, school officials said.

Betsy Fernandez and daughter Mercedes Castillo, 10, a Prairie Queen fourth-grader, flashed smiles as they neared the school’s entrance.

“I’m excited about meeting my new teacher and getting an education,” Mercedes said.

Fernandez, a single mother of four, left no doubt about the importance of getting an education.

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for FOXSports.com in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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Back-to-school traffic rules

Monday marked the first day of school for Oklahoma City Public Schools, and Oklahoma City Police Department officials are reminding drivers to slow down and be mindful of school zones. Officers will be out patrolling school zones and watching for speeders throughout the school year. “Our No. 1 priority is the safety of children,” said Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City Police Department.

Infractions can be costly

Speeding in a school zone: $202

Improperly passing a school bus: $202

Sources:

Oklahoma City Police Department, city of Oklahoma City

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