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Local schools have their first day of classes on Wednesday

Students enter Hagen Junior High School for their first day of classes for the new school year. (Press Photo by Sydney Mook)1 / 2
Students at Hagen Junior High School wait for classes to start on the first day of the new school year. (Press Photo by Sydney Mook)2 / 2

It was a windy and chilly morning as a few thousand Dickinson students walked in the doors for their first day of the new school year.

Based on estimates given from Dickinson Public Schools, about 3,400 students attended their first day of classes across the public schools in Dickinson.

Many schools, including Jefferson Elementary and Heart River Elementary, said those numbers are about on par from last year, with just small differences.

At Hagen Junior High School alone, approximately 494 seventh- and eighth-graders came through the doors, backpacks and planners in hand, ready to start the new school year.

Marcus Lewton, principal at Hagen Junior High, said that number is up about 45 students from where they ended last year. He said that is mostly due to a difference in the eighth-grade class that left last year and their new seventh-grade class that has come in this fall.

"It's up," Lewton said. "Our eighth-grade class that left was significantly smaller than the sixth-grade class that came in."

This will be the final year full year at Hagen Junior High. Next year, students will be attend the new Dickinson Middle School, which is set to be completed by September 2017.

Lewton said the first day is always exciting, especially for seventh-graders who have to take some time to learn the ropes of middle school.

"They're just lost little fish at sea," he said with a laugh. "... We help them. We do a lot of training about behavior, and this what you do here and this is how you walk down the hallway, this is how you line up for lunch. Otherwise, it'd just be chaos in a building this small with that many kids."

Eighth-grader Symone Beld said there are certain aspects of Hagen that she will miss when the school year comes to a close.

"It's just a good community and it's fun to learn here," Beld said. "I'll miss some of my seventh-grade teachers. They were the best."

Ever Benton, who is also an eighth-grader at Hagen, said that while she hadn't noticed a difference in the number of kids at the school, she's excited to meet everyone.

"I'm looking forward to meeting new people and new classes and new teachers," Benton said.

Lewton said they are pretty happy with the number of students they have now, which he initially bases off of the number of lockers being used by students.

He said even with the increase in students, it wasn't necessary for them to hire a new teacher because last year's enrollment was still down from 2014-15.

"We can manage it," he said. "We don't have a lot of space. I wouldn't want a whole lot more kids in the building."

Dickinson Catholic Schools estimated that it had about 342 students enrolled in its elementary school programs and about 219 students in junior high and high school as of Wednesday afternoon. Dickinson High School estimated it had around 980 students walking through their halls on their first day of classes.

DPS Superintendent Doug Sullivan did not wish to comment on enrollment numbers until the numbers were solidified.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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