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The school year gets underway today for many students around the region. It's the first day for students in Montgomery County, also Howard, Frederick, Charles, and Carroll counties in Maryland. In Virginia, Loudoun County schools are back in session today.
Summer break is also over in the District, and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray will be dropping in on several schools to welcome them back. He will visit schools in all four quadrants, starting at Oyster-Adams Bilingual School in Northwest D.C.
While students are looking forward to everything from English to Math classes — some of them even worked on their math problems in English and Spanish with WAMU's Armando Trull this morning — the hardest part is getting kids back to the routine, accoding to Oyster-Adams principal Monica Aguirre.
"The biggest challenge for all kids in the city is getting back into the routine getting up on time, getting here to school ready to learn," said Aguirre. "I speak as a parent and a principal — getting back into the routine and making sure we're ready for learning from day one."
DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson was also on hand at Oyster-Adams this morning, outlining some of the changes in store for some students this year. The district did $8 million in renovations to 12 schools this summer; three of those were complete renovations and the other nine underwent classroom renovations, which included new furniture and technology.
"We really made magic happen. The buildings that we send our young people into communicate how we feel about them, so when our children are able to walk into buildings that are new and fresh, I think it sets them on pace for a great year of learning," Henderson said.
Some schools will also have extended hours and school years under a new grant program. Through the "Proving What's Possible" grants — which total $10 million — schools could apply for funding innovative programs in the areas of "time, talent and technology," according to Henderson.
"A number of schools have extended day or school year because we know if we're going to provide these kids with the education they deserve, some of our students need more time on task," Henderon said. "In some cases the day is longer from an hour to two hours. One of our schools has extended by one and half hours, which actually creates an extra full day of school a week."
Gray will visit four traditional public schools and two charter schools. The District has more than 45,000 students in its traditional public schools, while another 31,000 attend charter schools.