Local News

Summer Comes To Abrupt End For Person County Students, Parents

Posted August 5, 2003

— Summer vacation just isn't what it used to be.

It is already over for students in Person County, who returned to classes Tuesday.

Wake, Durham and Cumberland County schools begin next Monday.

For many students, summer vacation is always too short. At Helena Elementary in Timberlake, even the parents could be heard complaining.

"Yeah, it doesn't seem like we've had much summer at all, does it?" a parent said to her child as they arrived at the school.

That's because Person County schools have a one- to two-week jump on most systems in the state.

"Extremely early," parent Carolyn Bumpers said. "When I was in school, we didn't go back until the end of the summer, the end of August. Now they're going back the first week."

The summer break isn't shorter. It has just shifted.

Person County schools close before Memorial Day, while most other systems go a week into June.

"But you know, it is exciting," a returning student said, "because we get to get out earlier and enjoy the summer."

Many high-school principals prefer the earlier start so students won't have to face midterm exams in January.

"Now we get all that done before Christmas," said Greg Hicks, the principal at Person High School.

There are two reasons why school in August would have been out of the question for past generations: Their schools were not air-conditioned -- now they are -- and tobacco.

Many in Person County grew up with summer jobs working the crop, and August is the busiest month.

"With the increase of migrant workers," Hicks said, "many of our students are not involved with tobacco anymore at all."

In fact, many students say they run out of things to do by the end of July.

"I was kind of bored and ready to get back with all my friends," one student said.

Person County plans on having five snow make-up days. But this past year, it lost 10 days to snow and ice. That meant the students stayed a week later, but they still finished by May 30.


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