Meadville Tribune

August 28, 2013

First day of school: Rain falls, not tears

By Mary Spicer
Meadville Tribune

MEADVILLE — The weather could have been better for the opening day of the 2013-14 school year in Crawford County. A whole lot better.

The 2.55 inches of rain that Joe Chriest, Meadville’s city manager, collected Wednesday between 7 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in his personal rain gauge, for example, was downright impressive.

“To put this into perspective,” Chriest said, “what came down during those five hours would be the fourth-heaviest month of precipitation this year.”

Yet, the rain didn’t put too much of a damper on the start of the elementary and secondary school year.

“It was a very nice start to the school year,” Kurt Meader, principal of Meadville’s Second District Elementary School, said shortly after lunch. “With the exception of the bad weather, everything went very smoothly.”

Suspiciously smoothly, one might say.

“In the elementary school, I didn’t see one child crying — which is good, but it is odd,” Superintendent Jarrin Sperry of Conneaut School District observed.

“I expected to see tears,” Connie Youngblood, superintendent of PENNCREST School District reported, “but when I got to Cambridge Springs Elementary School, this was the first time I can remember that there were no tears.”

Superintendent Charlie Heller of Crawford Central School District reported a similar experience — no tears, no reports of same.

Although no explanations were immediately offered for the apparent lack of first-day anxiety, Youngblood was willing to give the weather some credit. “It’s always better to come to school on a rainy day,” she chuckled. “There’s nothing to do at home.”

There was, however, plenty to do at school.

“I started my tour this morning at Crawford County Career & Technical Center,” Youngblood said. “Students came in a little wet, but they were there — and excited to be there.”

With other PENNCREST district administrators covering the Maplewood and Saegertown attendance areas and her own visits scheduled for later in the week, Youngblood headed for Cambridge Springs, where she visited both the elementary and the high school. “It was a great first morning,” she said.

“The first day went well, considering the downpour,” said Heller, who spent time traveling around Meadville, Cochranton and Vernon and West Mead townships, visiting all his district’s schools. The principals, he added, thought things went very well indeed.

“Because we have a number of walkers, Wednesday wasn’t a true test of how things will really flow,” Heller said. “When the weather is cooperating, we’ll have more students walking to school and on buses — and less parents dropping off kids. That will be a true test of how smooth operations will be.”

Conneaut School District experienced some bus issues, “but that’s to be expected at the beginning of the school year,” Sperry said. “I was around the district today and it was an uneventful day.”

Students started by getting off to a good start.

“Except for a couple of violators here and there, they adhered to the new dress code,” Sperry said. “The kids just seemed to be ready to get started.”

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at