Back At It


Ciya Wilson climbs off the bus at Payson Elementary School on her first day back - one of some 3,000 students all praying for a good hair day for the first day of the rest of their lives.

Ciya Wilson climbs off the bus at Payson Elementary School on her first day back - one of some 3,000 students all praying for a good hair day for the first day of the rest of their lives. |

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Katie Goldman explains the rules to Billy Bob Neal.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Denton Petersen writes the rules down as Katie Goldman explains them at Frontier Elementary.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Teacher Scott Novack gets students used to the fickle finger of fate.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Aimee Armstead reflects the predominant student reaction to the first day back at Rim Country Middle School

The first day of school on Wednesday was electric – full of jitters, butterflies, uncertainty, excitement and joy. Old friends were greeted and new classmates and teachers encountered.

The Payson School District welcomed roughly 2,670 students back to class this week, along with 10 new teachers.

At the high school Kelly Krieg, Matthew Mayo, Jared Swanson, Ingrid Schone, Robert Rolle and David Durfee joined the staff. Scott Novack is the one new teacher at Rim Country Middle School. Frontier Elementary School has two new teachers Katie Goldman in the fifth grade and Gina Brooks in special education. Amy Beier is the only new teacher at Julia Randall Elementary and works in special education.

The three elementary schools (Frontier, Julia Randall and Payson) had more than 1,200 students arrive for classes.

Payson High School and Payson Center for Success welcomed about 860 students.

Rim Country Middle School had 600 in class the first day of the 2009-2010 year.

At Frontier Elementary things went so well, not even the kindergarten students shed any tears.

Julia Randall Elementary had a wonderful start with its 436 students. The pre-school children came to class on Monday.

“It was an outstanding first day of school,” said Principal Will Dunman at Payson Elementary. “It was very busy, but very good.”

Gary Witherspoon, principal at Rim Country Middle School it was a wonderful first day for Payson’s sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.

“They were excited to be back and well-behaved — at this point — for middle school kids,” he said.

The students spent time in assemblies learning about the rules of the school, Witherspoon said. There were also discussions about bullying and its consequences and the no iPod rule.

Sixth-grade students spent the day getting acclimated to middle school and the pilot program being instituted for safety, which prohibits the youngsters from having backpacks.

Payson High School also had a great first day according to Assistant Principal Tim Fruth.

“It was one of the smoothest opening days I can recall,” Fruth said. There were a few late registrations to deal with and more students are expected to arrive in the coming days.

Kathe Ketchem, principal for the Payson Center for Success, said her first day went smoothly and students are already making plans for a number of special programs. In just a month they will participate in Unity Day, a team-building project.

Scott Novack may be new to Payson schools, but he has made his home here for nine years, commuting down to Fountain Hills to teach science to seventh- and eighth-graders and coach.

At RCMS he is teaching math, literature and language arts. He said the first day of school was fantastic.

“I have the greatest kids,” Novack said.

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