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January 12, 2014

Finally back to school

Friends, favorite subjects await returning students

TERRE HAUTE — Today is back-to-school day.

Vigo schools are expected to be busy with activity today, as students, teachers and staff go back to school after a two-week winter break, which was extended five additional days when the schools closed because of the recent snow storm and subzero temperatures that moved through the Wabash Valley.

And some students — including brothers Sam, Will and Nate Anders — spent the last school-free day with family.

Inside the Meadows Shopping Center just after having lunch on Sunday, the brothers — who spent part of their winter break on a beach in Alabama — talked about the different things they like at school.

Sam, the eldest of the three, is a sixth-grader at Otter Creek Middle School. He said he likes math, language arts, choir and P.E., but his favorite subject is science.

“I like experimenting,” the 11-year-old said.

His brother, Will, a third-grader at Rio Grande Elementary School, prefers the more artistic subjects.

“I like art, P.E., library, reading and math,” but his favorite is art, he said.

“Because I like to draw,” the 9-year-old said.

He was also looking forward to seeing his friends at school.

Also excited to see friends was Nate, a kindergartner.

“I have a girlfriend,” the 5-year-old admitted, smiling.

Nate said he really likes sports, too.

The family was ready to get back into the school routine — which includes getting up at 6:15 a.m. — and schools are ready to welcome students back.

Susan Mardis, principal at Woodrow Wilson Middle School, said she was excited to welcome everyone back.

When Woodrow Wilson students walk in to school today, they will see additions to the interior. One is a big-screen TV in the gym to be used for instruction, athletics and information purposes, Mardis said.

The students will also see a new, 6-foot tall, metal “Warrior” for the gym.

The custodians have also rearranged the cafeteria, Mardis said, and she was pleased with the new setup. It should provide better flow for the 958 students, she said.

But at the top of Mardis’ back-to-school agenda is preparing for the ISTEP, which is coming up in March.

Mardis emphasized learning, even on snow days.

Upon hearing about the snow days last week, Mardis said she asked teachers to post snow day assignments on their individual websites. Most of the assignments are in preparation for ISTEP. Students and parents were also directed to an Indiana Department of Education webpage, which has ISTEP samplers.

So today, “we’re expecting a lot of papers with bonus points,” Mardis said.

Some of those assignments may come from Woodrow Wilson students Tyler and Lauren Keith, who are in eighth and sixth grades, respectively. On Sunday, they had already finished their snow day homework.

Teachers’ participation was voluntary and students who did the snow day assignments will receive bonus points, Mardis said, and those who did not or could not participate are not going to be penalized.

“I want to keep the children learning, thinking and engaged,” Mardis said, even when they are not at school. “Every minute counts.”

“We just want to keep improving Woodrow Wilson as much as we can academically,” she added.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@tribstar.com.

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