NORMANDY, MO (KTVI)-- Despite some skeptical Francis Howell parents and late buses, Normandy families were optimistic about the first day of the student-transfer program.
Montez Smith waited in Bel-Ridge early Thursday morning. His daughter and three sons waited for school buses. They also waited for the first day of their transfer from the Normandy to the Francis Howell School District. Smith said he is still angry about a bomb-threat last year at his little girl's school.
“My daughter got caught talking on her cell phone,” he said. “Security snatched the phone from her and told her, ‘We told you not to call anybody.’”
A Normandy spokesperson said officials have no knowledge of this exchange. But the father said this is just one reason he sent his kids almost an hour away to new schools this year.
“When we went out there and saw the classes they were going to take,” Smith said. “They were totally different from the Normandy middle schools.”
High school senior J’Von Coleman said his Normandy teachers kept him on his college-bound path.
“There was just a bunch of distractions from other students that were slowing me down from my learning,” he said.
Several Francis Howell parents were clear they did not want the transfer students in the district. They made that known at a town hall meeting earlier in the summer. But after a recent visit to Francis Howell High School, it looked like Coleman’s new classmates would feel differently.
“They were like, ‘Hey! You’re new. Wanna be best friends?’” he remembered. “I was like, ‘Okay, so, sure!’”
Smith said the teachers were just as eager to work with the transfer students.
“When we went and enrolled him, everybody welcomed him with open arms and everybody was nice and smiles,” the father said. “So, I’m not worried about how he will be treated.”
Even with almost all the buses running about 30 minutes late, families at this stop looked forward to a brand-new school year and a brand-new school.
“I just wanted them to have the best available education to them,” Smith said.
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A bus carrying dozens of Normandy students transferring to Francis Howell went to the wrong school on this first day of class!
It was part of the historic beginning of the school transfer program.
The problem was not the start for some Normandy transfer students that many were hoping for.
The bus carrying transfer students to Francis Howell Central High School in Cottleville arrived close to 40 minutes after classes started because it went to the wrong school.
Central`s principal, Sonny Arnel, met the bus when it finally arrived after being rerouted from Francis Howell High School.
A spokesperson for the Normandy school district, which is paying for the transportation, says Normandy contracted with first student for the busing and that the buses did make mock runs yesterday.
It`s unclear why the bus wound up at the wrong place.
Francis Howell officials say the Central high transfer students still had their normal day including breakfast.
Despite the glitch, principal Arnel says he is excited to welcome the new kids.
"We as a staff have tried to step back and just look at what we do and that is educate our students. If we focus on that mission, making sure we meet their needs and our family needs that we serve, we`re going to do a great job," said Arnel.
475 Normandy students are transferring to Francis Howell.
Central high received 54 of those students... more than any other Francis Howell school.
Central students we talked with are going to do their best to make the Normandy kids feel comfortable.
"They`re coming from a whole new experience, they`re 35 miles away, so it`s up to us to be who we were taught to be and be respectful to them and incorporate them into our school," said Central high senior Sean Earl.
Fellow senior Nicole Sutton added, "I want to meet them all. I want to get to know them, see their lifestyle and how they`re different, not different but like how their life experiences have been different than ours and if they`re excited to be here, if they need any help with anything, stuff like that, I`m excited to meet them all."
When the transfers were first announced, some Francis Howell parents voiced strong opposition to Normandy kids coming to their district.
But this morning, parents seemed much more optimistic.
"I`m one of those people that strongly believes that out of change good things happen, and I`m excited and I`m hopeful and we`re just going to have to see how it goes," said parent Kimberly Thompson.