Westlake First Day of School

Students posed for photos at the big, bright lawn sign welcoming them to their first day at Westlake Elementary School, including second-grader Jason Petrish Jr. and his photographer-mom, Victoria.

Brightly colored letters set in the front lawn spelled out “Welcome to WES” as nearly 1,000 students arrived Thursday for their first day at the new $38 million elementary school on Center Ridge Road.

Parents stood on the sidewalk waiting for their chance to snap a first-day photo of their children in front of the letters.

Things were bustling well ahead of the arrival of children, dropped off by parents or disgorged from nearly two dozen buses. Staff, wearing gray T-shirts with the green district logo emblazoned on the front, stationed themselves at entrances and everywhere in between to make sure students had plenty of help finding their classrooms.

Third-grade teacher Jenni Sammon said an extremely well-attended meet-and-greet the evening before allowed parents and students to check out the building on their way to meet teachers and explore their assigned classrooms.

Superintendent Scott Goggin, on hand for opening day, said officials used the term “house” to describe the areas where children spend their days, but teachers' efforts in their classrooms made it “home.”

He praised the dedication of teachers who came in on their own time for a week to unpack scores of boxes moved from their classrooms in four now-closed buildings. After unpacking, they decorated bulletin boards, created fun activity corners, added art cutouts with each student’s name to classroom doors, organized technology equipment on their desks and added fall-themed elements around their spaces.

The extra work did not diminish their enthusiasm as they headed into the hallway or toward entrances to greet arriving students. “Good morning,” “Have a great day,” and “Do you know where you're going, buddy?” rang out repeatedly. Just after the bell rang to start the day at 8:45 a.m., Goggin said he was pleased with how smoothly things had gone.

The community can explore the mammoth 154,000-square-foot building during a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5:15 p.m. Sept. 21.

School also began Thursday for 3,000 students at Westlake's intermediate, middle and high schools.

Michele Murphy is a freelance reporter from Avon Lake.

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