Walnut Creek Elementary opens in Raleigh
Posted August 25, 2011 6:38 p.m. EDT
Thursday marked the first day of school for most students around the state, including Wake County students on a traditional-calendar schedule.
It also marked the opening of the school system's newest school, Walnut Creek Elementary School in southeast Raleigh.
The school was at the center of controversy, criticism and political debate about changing the district's longstanding busing-for-diversity policy. More than 80 percent of Walnut Creek students are projected to qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
Most come from surrounding low-income neighborhoods in southeast Raleigh, and there is concern about what that will mean for overall student achievement.
"We are going to be a school that overcomes obstacles and defies odds," Principal Corey Moore said Thursday.
Second-grade teacher Oriana Johnson heard about the school in New York and moved to Raleigh to be a part of it.
"I knew that it was a school with a diverse population, a diverse group of students who really, really needed a great school in their community," Johnson said. "That's what I stand for."
The school day at Walnut Creek is 45 minutes longer than most to give teachers extra time to work with students who need help or more in-depth lessons.
It also has special programs focused in science, technology and math.
"We are going to focus on the needs of our children. We are going to educate every child that walks through the door," Moore said.
Despite budget cuts and increased enrollment, Superintendent Tony Tata says he expects successful year for all Wake County schools.
"We focused on teachers and classrooms and protecting those and then also focused on innovative programming to make sure all schools were high demand," he said.
Walnut Creek was built for a capacity of 800 students. Cooke says the school opened Thursday above that number but says that doesn't change their plans or goals.