ARMSTRONG - The hallways still have maroon lockers and yellow walls, but several of the high school students were decked out in green and black, in support of what is now North Union High School.
The first day of the long-awaited whole-grade sharing between the three Iowa school districts of Armstrong-Ringsted, North Kossuth and Sentral became a reality Wednesday.
Unlike other first days of school, North Union's was shortened for a morning assembly to mark the occasion, and an early release because of the heat.
HOLA!?— Spanish teacher Lindsey Colegrove welcomes a new class of students at North Union High School in Armstrong on Wednesday morning. North Union is composed of students from Armstrong-Ringsted, North Kossuth and Sentral school districts.
"Our building has air conditioning throughout, but some of the other buildings don't," Armstrong-Ringsted Superintendent Matt Berninghaus said of the early release.
"We opened with the assembly, and there was lots of excitement and smiles there," said North Union athletic director and high school assistant principal Robert Zotz. "It's been helpful sharing the sports for over the last year; a lot of the students are familiar with each other."
Most of the personnel at the high school said the first day as a new district went as smoothly as any other first day of school.
"It was a madhouse at the start of the day; more students trying to find classrooms and lockers," Berninghaus said. "But the students are blending together nicely. ... We see a lot of students helping other students. During the assembly there were class elections, and there was a nice blend of the three districts there. We have about 55 students per class (grade) now, which is up from the 22 per class the districts were seeing on their own."
Secretary Lisa Olson also felt the day was going smoothly.
"We see a lot of kids coming in with schedule changes, but that's always the case on the first day of school." she said. "The kids will have all eight periods today in 20-minute increments for the shortened day, so they can at least meet all their teachers and learn where their classrooms are."
Some areas of the school were still being fixed up for the upcoming school year. The back parking lot was under construction, but is expected to be ready after the Labor Day weekend.
"We're doubling the size of the parking lot to accommodate the students," Berninghaus said. "Right now we're still having the drop-off in front like we've always had."
Not only are there new students to the building, but new staff.
"We have some teachers that came over from the other districts, so as the building is new to half the kids, we also have staff that are learning the building and the Armstrong-Ringsted kids," Zotz said.