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Old-school advice: Kids urged to think positive, get lots of rest

CHARLES TOWN – Besides pencils, notebooks, backpacks and the like, Jefferson High teacher Anne Portrey would add something else to the list of back-to-school must-haves: A positive attitude.

When students return to the classroom Monday for the start of the 2014-15 school year, Portrey said “a smile and high hopes” are the best way to ensure success.

She said she believes that whether a student is facing a new school or attending school for the first time, focusing on the good is the key to adjusting well.

Lucinda Anderson of Kearneysville, who works as a school math interventionist in Berkeley County, suggests parents put in the time to create strong partnerships with each student’s teachers and administrators.

“It’s the only way,” she said.

Even though the school year is beginning earlier this year, the challenges remain the same, Anderson said.

“It wouldn’t make a difference if school started after Labor Day,” she said. “As parents, teachers, administrators and community leaders, to make this work, we need to be more proactive than reactive. We make it harder than it should be.”

As a mother, Sue Kennedy’s best back-to-school advice is to make time to chat about everything that happened at school.

“Sit down at the dinner table together and listen to tales of their day,” the Shepherdstown resident said.

Rebecca Shepard, a mother who lives in Berkeley County, says parents should ensure their students get plenty of sleep. Her other tip? “Open Communication, not only with your kids, but their friends and teachers.”

As Monday nears, recently retired Shepherdstown Elementary teacher

Cheryl Lawrence said parents unsure just what their children need for the start of the school year should either visit the school’s website for a list of supplies or simply stop by the school.

“Most schools have a supplies list hanging out front,” she said.

She suggests parents worried about their children juggling the first week back in class with the Jefferson County Fair call now and talk over their concerns with the school’s principal.

It’s a good idea to let school officials know as soon as possible if a child will be absent due to a fair activity, she said.

Parents of children entering the seventh and 12th grades should prepare for immunization requirements that took effect last August. Seventh-graders must have the Tdap vaccine and the meningitis vaccine in order to start school while seniors must have a second dosage of the meningitis vaccine.

The shots will be offered again at the Jefferson County Health Department in Kearneysville on Thursday. Information on fees and times available is available by calling 304-728-8416.

– Christine Snyder contribute to this report

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