The first day of school at Apex Friendship High School went off largely without a hitch, officials said.
Monday’s opening was special for being more than just the first day of the new year. It was the school’s first day ever.
Apex Friendship is one of three new schools that opened in Wake County Monday – and the only new high school.
Officials were expecting 1,000 ninth- and 10th-graders to enter the $59 million building on Humie Olive Road. The students came from Apex, Holly Springs or Panther Creek high schools.
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Here’s a look of how the first half of the day went, especially in the minutes leading up to lunch.
School opens. The drop-off line and buses both go better than expected. Assistant Principal Tony Wilson said there was one minor glitch. “But that’s a good number for an existing school, let alone a brand new one,” Wilson said.
First period normally starts at this time, but Monday, students reported to their homerooms. Unlike at many high schools, the students will have the same homeroom teacher all four years.
First period starts a little late because of homeroom. Principal Matt Wight begins visiting classrooms as part of his goal to check in on all 58 teachers before the first day is up.
Second period starts.
Wight gets on the intercom to address the school. “I would like to commend everybody for coming in today and getting off to a great start,” he said.
Wight starts making rounds again. “It’s cool going in the classrooms and seeing the teachers teaching,” he said. “They hit the ground running. It’s not just a syllabus day.”
He pops into a home economics classroom, gives a thumbs up and asks the students how things are going. Students give him a few thumbs up in return.
Art teacher William Kasapidi tells Wight the air conditioning in his room is still broken.
Wight finds the school’s circuit breakers, thinks about finding the one for the air conditioning unit, then decides to let a professional handle it. “Sometimes you have to know your limitations,” he said.
Wight runs into Wilson and Ginger Wooten, another assistant principal, in the hall. Wilson is about to go to the English classrooms, which Wight visited first period. “I can’t tell if it’s English or engineering,” Wight said. “They’re building bridges. In English class!”
Repeated yells of “yeehaw” and “yippee” can be heard coming from the chorus room. Wight sticks his head in and makes a joke about “Oklahoma!,” the musical.
Band teacher Paul Rowe is learning the names of students who had not come to the school this summer for practice. Wight points out how the water fountain is finally working, after having been off all summer.
“The bringer of water,” Rowe yells melodramatically, pointing to Wight. Students applaud.
Soft drink vending machines are delivered to the main office, with about an hour to set them up before the lunch break.
Wight, Wilson and Wooten take a break to catch up on paperwork and get off their feet before lunch begins. Lunch includes pizza, tater tots, spinach and peaches, plus milk or juice, and is served buffet-style.
Cafeteria workers finish putting out the pizzas and get some final training on the cash register.
The lunch bell rings, and within 20 seconds, students are streaming down the stairwells and into the hallways. Some are wearing dress shirts for the first day, and others are decidedly more casual. One girl has bright blue hair. Most days, students will spend half of lunch eating and the other half doing extra academic work or participating in extracurricular club meetings.
Third period begins.
Fourth period begins.
School is out.
“The first day isn’t always the hardest day, but it can be,” Wight said, about halfway through the day. “Luckily, today, it has gone pretty smoothly.”
Apex Friendship’s first day by the numbers
10: Soft drink vending machines being delivered just before lunch
3: Cars in the student parking lot
8: Students who didn’t show up for the start of school
150: Typical number of students who didn’t show up on the first day when Principal Matt Wight was principal of Apex High
1: 3D printer on campus, for the engineering academy students
0: Laminator machines on campus, although one is on the way