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Big Changes Coming for New School Year

More than 40,000 students went back to school Monday in Frederick County, Maryland.
THURMONT, Md. - More than 40,000 students went back to school Monday in Frederick County, Maryland.

"The first day of school is always a new beginning for everyone. It's one of the most exciting times of the year as students come back. They're meeting their new teachers, and we have new staff in place." said Dr. Terry Alban, superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools.

Students got off the bus and hit the books as the new school years kicked off.

"Students were prepared with filled backpacks and some really snazzy-looking new shoes," said Cheryl Crawford, principal at Thurmont Elementary School.

Alban toured schools in the Thurmont area and says students and parents will notice some changes. One of them is an earlier start to the school year. The Frederick County Board of Education decided to start classes on August 19, a week earlier than normal.

"They wanted to try and find a calendar that would maximize the five day weeks and get a lot of good, solid instruction early in the year," Alban said. 

It's a change some Thurmont Elementary School students say they don't mind.

"I was glad to see my friends because I haven't seen most of them over the whole summer," said Chaney Barnhart, a fifth grader.

An earlier start isn't the only change students will see this year.

"There was a lot of work last year and over the summer to revise our curriculum so we're aligned with the Common Core standards, so many of our students will be seeing some new curriculum this year," Alban said. 

Some other changes include a new teacher evaluation system and security features.

One of the new safety features for this school year is what's known as 'safe rooms.' Those are rooms close to classrooms students and teachers can walk into, shut the door, lock from the inside, and they stay in the rooms if there's an intruder inside the school.

"All security features are designed to be efficient," Crawford said. "They're designed to maximize safety."

Alban hopes the changes will keep kids safe as they head back to school and sharpen their skills in the classroom.

Some of the other changes in Frederick County Public Schools include a new seven-period day for middle school students, more reading and writing for elementary school students, and common core algebra for high school students.
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