Students return to school

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Students around the state head back to school Monday

Today's the day many families have been counting down to for weeks now - it's back to school for traditional calendar students!


Teachers, administrators and even some members of the Carolina Railhawks welcomed students to a new school year at Powell Elementary in Raleigh.
"I'm feeling pretty good and nervous at the same time," fourth grader Tatiyana Spencer said.

At Sanderson High School in Raleigh, a "car parade" is a first day of school tradition. Seniors decked out their cars and caravan to school.

"I'm really excited," senior Savannah Harris said. "Ready to get this last year over with."


A couple of parents told ABC11 Monday morning that their children's buses were later than usual, but Wake County Public School System officials said things went exceptionally well.
Despite opening six new schools this year and adding 2,000 students, WCPSS has about 60 fewer buses on the road than there were last year - running around 3,000 fewer stops.

Click here to read more about the change.

Wake County Schools Superintendent Dr. James Merrill told ABC11 Monday morning that the school system is fully staffed with school bus drivers and always improving routes.

"Our on time rates should still be greater than 95 percent after the first week or so," he said. "We spent a lot of time on those routes, computer assisted. Humans driving the routes, should be fine as we shake it out."

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Wake County Schools Superintendent Dr. James Merrill

However, one father who did not want to be identified said his son waited at the bus stop in Apex for an hour and a bus still hadn't arrived. The dad said his wife had to take their son to school and she was late as a result.

RELATED: Check out Gloria Rodriguez's report on school bus stop safety tips.

For more safety tips, visit

The district said 99 percent of buses arrived before school started. Only 1 percent arrived late after the bell rang.

"Exactly 749 buses arrived within 10 minutes of the morning school bell," a Wake County Schools spokesperson said. "This means that 11 buses arrived 10 minutes or more late to school, which is exceptional for the first week of school. Our school bus drivers have been studying and practicing their routes, and their dedication is evident today."

For WCPSS bus routes, visit

In Cumberland County, about 51,000 students headed back to school Monday morning. Superintendent Dr. Frank Till said he was also optimistic about any challenges the school system might face this year.

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Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Till talks back to school


Meanwhile, some schools in Durham and Wake counties have new bell schedules this school year.
Durham has shifted some start times to better account for sleep habits of students. Teenagers in high school will have a later start time so they can be more attentive in class.


"Their biological clock seems to be a lot different from the rest of us, especially people our age," Durham Public Schools Superintendent Bert L'Homme said. "So now they're going to go to school at 9 a.m. It's going to be their first period, they'll be awake. I expect to see student achievement just soar this year."

The updated bell schedules also affected bus schedules for all 53 schools.

"We had to zone them in a way that makes it so we could use buses more than once in one day," L'Homme said.

Kids who rode school buses to C.C. Spaulding Elementary were met by many men as they arrived as part of Million Father March - a nationwide movement that invites dads to come in with their children on day one of classes.

"School is the first thing to keep them on a straight path," father Jermaine Jones said. "So I've got to make sure I can be here with my son."

"And they meet the teacher. Nothing is more important than that," L'Homme said. "We know that our students do better when teachers and parents are on the same page, communicating regularly throughout the school year."

School leaders are urging parents to follow the lead at all Durham public schools.

Meanwhile, the Wake County School Board made bell changes for six schools:

  • Enloe High

  • Knightdale High

  • Fuquay-Varina Elementary

  • Green Elementary

  • Wendell Middle

  • Lufkin Road Middle


View more back to school stories here.

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