By Jeremy Henderson, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 29, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- One week of summer freedom remains for Fort Rucker students, but some simple steps exist that can help ease the transition into a new school year.
Fort Rucker Primary School and Fort Rucker Elementary School will host Sneak a Peek events Aug. 3 to provide a smooth transition for students and parents, according to officials at the two schools. FRES hosts its event for second through sixth graders from 1:30-2:30 and the primary school hosts its event from 2:45-3:45 p.m.
"This is a great opportunity for students to find their classroom and meet the teacher before the big first day of school," Dr. Vicki Gilmer, Fort Rucker Elementary school principal, said.
Students always have the jitters before the first day and have questions about what their teacher will be like, will they be able to find their class, and more, the principal said. Sneak a Peek is a quick event that gives students the chance to get those questions answered before actually beginning school. A formal parent orientation and grade-level overview will be held later in August to give parents detailed information.
Gilmer also shared that parents can help students prepare for the upcoming school year now.
"The best thing I can recommend is for students to begin adjusting to the routine prior to the first day of school," she said. "Students should start going to bed a little earlier and waking up earlier each day to get the sleep pattern back into school mode."
Aug. 4 is the first day of school and, according to school officials, it will be a full day. Fort Rucker Elementary School opens its doors at 7:30 a.m. and classes begin at 7:45 a.m. Students who are part of the breakfast program may enter the school at 7:15 a.m.
"For our entry and exit, it takes approximately 30 minutes," Gilmer said. "Parents and students should be prepared for that. We have fantastic (community) police support and the drop off and pick up is very smooth."
Peggy Contreras, Fort Rucker Directorate of Public Safety community police supervisor, said diligence and caution can ensure a safe and enjoyable school year for students, parents and faculty.
"Vehicles are asked to reduce their speed, and observe children going to and from school, especially during school zone hours," she said. "There will be patrols conducting school crossing in the morning and afternoon. Tickets will be given at the officers' discretion to anyone not complying with speed and guidance given by patrols."
According to Gilmer, many students live close to FRES, and either walk or ride a bike to class each day.
"We are blessed to be a community school," she said. "We have over 300 students who walk and ride bikes, so we need to be sure we are cautious of the walkers and bikers."
Contreras echoed that sentiment.
"Parents are asked to re-enforce bike safety with their children, especially when crossing streets," she said. "Drivers should pay close attention when passing children during school hours.
"All traffic must stop for school buses when loading and unloading," she added. "Talk about traffic safety with your children, and pick the safest route between your home and the school and practice walking it with your children. Teach your children to recognize and obey traffic signals, signs and pavement markings. Parents talk to your teenage drivers that will be driving to school off post doing the school zone times about safety and distracted driving."
According to Contreras, parents should also teach their children to be aware of personal safety and the importance of safety in numbers.
"Avoid talking to strangers," she said. "Teach your children to get distance between themselves and anyone who tries to approach or make contact with them. If a stranger does approach your child, make sure they know to immediately report the incident to you or a teacher. Have your children try and walk to school with other students. There is strength in numbers."
Contreras added that parents should remember the Installation Child Supervision Policy.
"If (you're) not familiar with it, a copy can be obtained from the Fort Rucker intranet," she said.
According to Dr. Debbie Deas, Fort Rucker Primary School principal, teachers will gain extra tools to help them give students an edge this year.
"Teachers are receiving two additional days of math professional development before school begins," she said. "This will strengthen their skills and be a review before school begins. New support materials have also arrived to be used as an additional resource for them in teaching the College and Career Readiness Standards for Math.
"Teachers will have three days in their classroom to prepare for students," she added. "During this time, they will get lesson plans organized, put the final touches on their classroom and attend in-school meetings."
Deas added that parents can also help their children prepare for the first day or school with a few simple steps.
"Parents should implement a healthy schedule for their children," she said. "Make sure they get plenty of rest and that they know what to expect on their first day.
"Some of our students are starting school for the very first time in their lives so they are thrilled to see their classrooms, to make new friends and are excited to meet their teachers," she added. "Returning students are happy to see their old friends and are eager to meet their new teachers, as well."
Parents and students should also keep in mind a few important changes for the upcoming school year, according to Deas.
"Our early release day is Thursday this year instead of Wednesday," she said. "Students will be released at 1:45 p.m. every Thursday, beginning on the first day, Aug. 4.
"Another important change -- all bus riders (grades pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first) must be accompanied to and from the bus stop," she added. "This is in line with post regulations."
How do faculty members feel about the fast-approaching school year?
"I can't wait," Gilmer said. "Summer time is always nice to get things reloaded and restarted, but the most important thing to us is the kids and the families. Just having the opportunity to serve and watch those young minds grow is amazing."
Registration remains open and parents who have not registered their children are urged to do so.
For more information, call the primary school at 255-2822 and FRES at 255-1607.