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Students' first day at Pinellas' Forest Lakes Elementary School is smooth

OLDSMAR — At 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, the staff at Forest Lakes Elementary School huddled in the front office.

It was the first day of school and principal Karen Aspen wanted to be ready for 730 students about to descend on the facility.

She didn't need to worry.

With all the preparation and safety patrols acting as valets for the kids in the car circle, there didn't seem to be one screaming kindergartner or upset parent on campus.

Only a few buses got stuck in traffic and pulled in after the tardy bell rang.

"I think things went great,'' Aspen said. "Everyone was very cooperative.''

One reason for the calm was the dramatic drop in the number of buses that serve Forest Lakes Elementary, from 16 last year to three this year, all from the East Lake area.

"Normally this would be a zoo,'' said physical education teacher Tom Mullins, standing at the bus drop off.

One new arrival was Carson Pemberton, 5.

His mom, Monica Kelly, was holding a bag of snacks in her hand but not for Carson's enjoyment.

"He has diabetes,'' she said. "It's a little nerve-racking today.''

Because of Carson's disease, she said the school's entire front office staff became certified to test for glucose levels. They will test Carson's blood sugar twice a day and that seems to be okay with Carson.

"I feel happy,'' he said.

Kindergarten teacher Karen Gums was happily awaiting the arrival of her young students, many of whom will be reading and writing their own stories by the time they leave her class.

"The orientation was yesterday,'' she said. "They were all looking at me with their big eyes. (It's like) okay, you're in charge of me now. I've got 17 little darlings expecting the world from me.''

Eileen Schulte can be reached at or (727) 445-4153.

Students' first day at Pinellas' Forest Lakes Elementary School is smooth 08/25/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 7:46pm]
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