Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Silver Grove first up

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

Jacob Moran (center), 5, a kindergartner at Silver Grove School, gets a word of reassurance from his father, D.J. Moran, on the first day of school. By the time the bell rang to start the day, Jacob was fine.
Photos by PATRICK REDDY/The Enquirer
Kera Franklin, 6, a first-grader at Silver Grove School, concentrates hard as she colors a "Welcome Back to School" page Tuesday, the first day of the school year.
SILVER GROVE - There was electricity in the air Tuesday morning as students eagerly returned to Silver Grove School for the first day of classes.

Unfortunately, that's all the electricity there was.

Lights, computers, air conditioners and phones shut down just after the 7:50 a.m. bell rang for school to begin. Teachers and students were in the dark all morning, relying on sunlight through the windows, emergency lights in the hallways and a few flashlights.

When power was restored around noon, only three hours were left in the school day.

"We're already behind," seventh- and eighth-grade teacher Linda Prather said with a laugh. "We were going to read a story in literature class this morning, but it was too dark."

Students also took the unexpected predicament in stride.

"It was hard to open up my (locker) combination - and it's hot," 12-year-old Kelsie Price said during the outage. "But it's fine."

Renovations to the school this summer included new wiring, heating and air conditioning, but none of that was a factor in the outage.

Kathy Meinke, spokeswoman for Cinergy, said an equipment failure at the Cold Spring substation knocked out power to almost 600 customers in the Silver Grove area.

Silver Grove School, which serves preschool through 12th grade, is the first school in Northern Kentucky to open this year. This is the fifth year it has used an alternative calendar.

With the alternative calendar, school starts the first week of August. Students and staff then get breaks for two weeks in October, three weeks around Christmas and two weeks in the spring.

Summer break begins in early June and lasts seven weeks, compared with about 12 weeks for schools on traditional calendars.

"The advantage of the shorter summer break is that kids don't get out of the flow of going to school," Principal Patrick Tucker said.

Superintendent Bill Brown said there were a few complaints with the alternative schedule the first year, but most have adjusted to it.

"We were looking at making improvements in our school, and one way was to manage our time better to increase learning," Brown said. "Our teachers have said they notice the kids remember things better after just seven weeks - little things like lining up without being told."

Students seemed happy to be back Tuesday, including 11-year-old Ian Doyle.

"When we come back, we're usually ready to come back," Doyle said. "We can get a better jump on stuff and we like the longer breaks we're going to get."

Campbell County schools, also on an alternative calendar, open today.


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