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School Staff Prepare for First Day of School

Today's the last day of summer vacation in Westlake.

Tick-tock, tick-tock...

It's down to counting hours before the 2012-13 school year begins in  on Thursday morning.

While children alternate between glumness over the and the excitement of a new school year, school staff are in overdrive.

"It's a combination of energy and relief for me," said principal Tim Freeman. "The teachers came back (on Tuesday), so after spending all summer prepping, it's good to hand it off to them."

For teachers, the days leading up to the first day of school are jam-packed. There are meetings, and they have to get the classrooms ready.

"It's about preparing a friendly, safe, aesthetically pleasing environment for kids to learn," said teacher first-grade Lisa Forshey.

Forshey is spending these last days doing things like arranging the desks for the most efficient use of the space, making sure students' names are on what they need to be on, and the names are spelled right.

Another relief for Freeman and other school staff is the weather.

"The 10-day forecast shows temperatures in the 70s and low 80s," he said. "Thank goodness it's not going to be like July. It's going to be much easier to get the kids back into school mode."

A shorter summer vacation didn't present too big a challenge, Freeman said.

"The custodians did a fantastic job taking care of the school," he said.

His biggest stress occured while transferring data from one computer system to another, Freeman said. Somehow, the lunch and study hall parts of schedules didn't transfer properly, so staff had to go in and fix them one by one.

Even though the transition is going smoothly, staff still get first-day butterflies just like students, Forshey said.

"I've already having dreams where I have the classroom all set, everyone's names are on everything they're supposed to be on, the first day of school comes ... and I find out I got the wrong class list," she said.

It's been exciting for Freeman to see the new high school taking shape next door. He and the staff have been able to tour the construction site. The classroom wings are starting to take shape.

"After two years of seeing it on paper, to see it in physical form is great," he said.

As the school year starts, Forshey had advice for parents.

"If you have a concern, don't wait to speak up," she said. "Speaking up sooner keeps any issues from becoming a big problem. You know your kid best. If there's something you think they need from school, tell us."

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