The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

August 21, 2013

A new beginning

OTTUMWA — The first day of school wasn't without its share of hiccups, but those will be smoothed out in the coming weeks.

Teachers managed to guide all 701 Liberty Elementary students — in single file, of course — out the front doors of the school for a kickoff ceremony for the newly constructed building Wednesday morning.

While the ceremony started off with a slight hitch (staff had trouble locating the keys for the flag pole), eventually the American and Iowa flags were raised by members of the American Legion and VFW.

"If that's the biggest problem we have today, I think we're doing OK," said Liberty principal Dawn Sievertsen.

Ottumwa High School senior Maddie McKelvey belted out the "Star Spangled Banner" while the second- through fifth-grade students looked on, hands over their hearts. That was followed up by the entire school reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

"I would say everything but the drop-off went very well," said superintendent Davis Eidahl. "We anticipated that the parent pick-up and drop-off wouldn't be the most efficient the first week of school. We put a plan in place, but you really can't practice that plan or take a dry run because there's just no way to simulate actual game time."

Some of the delay may have been since it was the first day of school.

"Lots of parents want to bring their child, especially to a new school like Liberty, and take a little longer in dropping them off or even stop and walk them into the building," Eidahl said. "The most important part of today, the successful part of the transportation plan, was that all the students arrived safely."

Eidahl said some parents were stuck in line 10 to 15 minutes.

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