Hopewell schools see a jump in enrollment
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Oct 9, 2013, 14:53
HOPEWELL — Hopewell schools have seen a boost in enrollment this year, and they are also making adjustments to handle longer days.
The principals of the six schools gathered at the school board meeting on Sept. 12 to present to the board a recap of having the students and teachers back for the 2013-2014 school year.
Dr. John Fahey, superintendent of Hopewell City Public Schools, said he was pleased with the opening of schools, as well as how the schools looked, noting they looked like they were in “good shape.”
Fahey also said that enrollment is up within the division with the start of the new school year, causing some problem solving to begin.
“As of yesterday [Sept. 11] we have about 130 more students than we did this time last year,” Fahey said. “Our enrollment is up and that will cause us to examine class size and other issues.”
Belinda Piercy, principal of Woodlawn Learning Center, was one of the schools in the division that saw an increase in students coming through the doors. She told the board that all preschool slots are filled for the upcoming school year.
“Currently we have all slots for Virginia Preschool and Head Start filled and this process allowed us to shorten our waiting list,” Piercy said. “For the first time in a long time, I am able to say we only had 30 children on the Head Start waiting list because of this process.”
The breakdown for enrollment at Woodlawn, according to Piercy, is 156 students in Head Start, 144 students in the Virginia Preschool program and seven students in special education preschool.
Patrick Copeland, as well as Harry E. James Elementary, also reported seeing an increase in student enrollment as well. Sandra Morton, principal of Harry E. James, said 11 children came and registered the Friday before school began on Sept. 3. She also told the board that kindergarten sits at 120 students.
The 2013-2014 school year is a milestone for Harry E. James, a milestone that Morton is already planning.
“This year marks the 20th year that Harry E. James opened,” Morton said. “We opened in the fall of 1993.”
Susan Jones, principal of Patrick Copeland Elementary, also saw an increase in students as well. Currently there are 134 kindergarten students at the school and a total of 674 students.
Due to the schedule change this year, with the additional 10 minutes added to the school day, schools have had to make adjustments to the opening and closing of the buildings. Jones said this has caused some problems at Patrick Copeland.
“We seem to have a line of people trying to get into our building every morning,” Jones said. “That is our biggest obstacle right now. Sometimes the buses get caught in the line of parent traffic, so we’re trying to figure out how to solve that problem.”
Carla Fizer, principal of Dupont Elementary, also told the board that the schedule change did create a bit of a “bumpy” opening but remained positive that the school year is off to a great start.
“Everyone’s really excited,” Fizer said. “They’re saying it seems like the day is flying by with the new schedule. It seems like once we started, it’s over before you know it. That’s kind of an adjustment for everyone. They feel like they’re not able to do everything they need to do so they’re adjusting to that time change.”
Excitement filled the voice of Carter G. Woodson Principal Shannon Royster as he told the board about the opening of the school. He said the start to this school year was probably one of the best he’s had since becoming principal.
Royster said the time change has been beneficial to the students. He also said teachers are eager to get into the building before the school officially opens at 7:30 in the morning.
“A lot of great things are happening with the block scheduling ...,” Royster said. “They’re filling those 85 minutes with some intensive high-yield strategies.”
Another change being implemented at Carter G. Woodson is grade-level assemblies. During the assemblies, Royster told the board, students have been given a review of the expectations and the code of conduct.
“We’re excited for a great school year and we know we’ve got some work ahead of us with the math and the reading but the whole staff knows that challenge is coming and they’re excited to meet it,” Royster said.
For the 2013-2014 school year, students at Hopewell High School are also working towards making strides in a more positive direction, a direction that principal Dr. Rodney Berry is helping steer them toward.
“We had a great start to the school year and we’re continuing to change the culture from being a great school to an even greater school,” Berry said. “This includes raising the bar in terms of teaching and learning to students dress code and attendance.”
For the first few weeks of school, Berry told the board he met with students in each grade level to review the “five pillars of support,” which includes academic excellence, character development, leadership development, parental empowerment and community partnership.
Berry said this is being achieved by increasing the rigor and quality of teaching and learning, offering more Advanced Placement classes and dual enrollment classes, and working to improve Standards of Learning scores.
“Our teachers, parents and especially our students are energized for the 2013-2014 school year and I truly feel that we have a solid team in place for this year,” Berry said.