September 03. 2013 10:31PM

First day

Fresh start for students in Merrimack

Union Leader Correspondent

Kimberly Silva serves hot lunches to eighth-grade students on Tuesday during the first day of school at Merrimack Middle School. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON PHOTO)

MERRIMACK — The hallway floors were shining and the whiteboards were spotless on Tuesday for the first day of school in Merrimack.

"Everybody seems happy to be here. They were ready to go bright and early this morning," said Barbara DeNutte, a teacher at Merrimack Middle School.

Wearing their new sneakers and carrying their new backpacks, 609 students entered Merrimack Middle School on Tuesday ready to start a new year filled with new experiences and new challenges, or at least that is what Principal Deborah Woelflein is hoping.

"So far, it is going very well. Some of these seventh-graders look so young, but they will be fitting in before they know it," said Woelflein. "They don't seem too nervous. They actually seem pretty excited."

The middle school teachers arrived at school last week for a core strategies training workshop, encouraging teachers to reinforce important skills throughout the school year.

This year, students will be asked to consistently use daily student planners, and teachers will be offering recommendations on how to take proper class notes, Woelflein said.

"A lot of these skills will focus on improving student organization," she said.

Colleen Powers, who teaches special education at the middle school, said Tuesday afternoon that her students already seem attentive and prepared.

"We are ready to roll," said Powers.

At Reeds Ferry School, the first day went even better than expected for Principal Kimberly Yarlott.

"It was a perfectly smooth day. Everyone is very happy," she said, noting any tears during the morning drop-off were quickly diminished.

Members of the Merrimack police and fire departments were on hand to assist Tuesday morning, offering additional security and extra smiles, said Yarlott.

There are 505 students enrolled at Reeds Ferry School, which does not include the 30-40 students who will begin preschool there later this week.

"Our enrollment is up a little bit, and we will be on the higher end once the preschoolers arrive," said Yarlott, who visited each of the classrooms on Tuesday to greet the students personally.

While most of the daily procedures are remaining consistent, the library at Reeds Ferry is temporarily closed as renovations are under way to improve the facility, according to Yarlott.

At Mastricola Elementary School, students were greeted with brand new flooring as asbestos abatement work was completed throughout the summer.

"It is so good to have the children back in the school. This is a tight-knit community, and it is great to be back together," said Principal Emilie Carter, who described the first day as wonderful.

There are about 465 students at Mastricola Elementary School this school year, according to Carter, who said the teachers are eager to begin implementing a new writing program in the coming months.