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Published August 27, 2013, 09:24 PM

WATCH: No traffic problems at West Fargo's new school; district enrollment jumps by nearly 500

WEST FARGO – Traffic moved smoothly around West Fargo’s newest school Tuesday, with few first-day-of-school glitches for students, parents or bus drivers trying to get to Liberty Middle School.

By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM

WEST FARGO – Traffic moved smoothly around West Fargo’s newest school Tuesday, with few first-day-of-school glitches for students, parents or bus drivers trying to get to Liberty Middle School.

Construction workers on Veterans Boulevard controlled traffic onto 36th Avenue South while signal work at that corner continued.

Meanwhile, in the school’s parking lots and traffic loops, West Fargo police officers and the school’s paraprofessionals – decked out in orange safety vests – directed teachers, buses, parents and students where to go.

“It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting,” said Joie Thompson, of Fargo, who had just dropped off her seventh-grade daughter Rylee. She added a caution, “I haven’t tried getting out yet.”

About 8 a.m., Liberty Assistant Principal Michelle Weber was directing students to take a seat in the commons to wait for the OK to go to classes, which started at 8:25 a.m.

“Good morning! How are you lovely ladies?” she said to two girls walking into the commons.

Weber said the day was going well for the new school. “It’s all good.”

Liberty Principal Denise Jonas, meanwhile, was walking through the main office with a small walkie-talkie handset pressed to her ear.

“It’s as good as you can probably expect on the first day of opening a new school,” Jonas said, as another staffer closed in on her with a question. “It’s busy. Everyone’s excited to get in there.”

Jonas said 209 fifth-graders had started classes at 7:45 a.m. She estimated another 678 sixth- through eighth-graders would start at 8:25 a.m.

West Fargo Public Schools officials reported the district continued its rapid growth, with 8,544 students recorded district-wide, an increase of 497, or 6.18 percent, from the first day of school last fall.

The district’s schools had 318 more students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, and 179 more students in grades 6-12, the district reported.

Officials predicted that on Thursday the district’s largest class – 800 students – will arrive for the first day of kindergarten.

At Sheyenne High School, which opened a new academic wing as part of its expansion from a ninth-grade center, everything appeared to be moving like clockwork by 9:15 a.m., whether in the parking lots or the halls.

“I think people started a little earlier” to get to school, Principal Greg Grooters said. “No complaints.”

Back at Liberty, students and staff gave mostly good grades to the building.

Eighth-grader Jazmin Barbot liked her new school, despite it seeming a bit more crowded than Cheney Middle School.

“It’s really nice and neat, and really clean,” she said.

Tori Moeller, another eighth-grader, also gave it a thumbs up.

“The music wing isn’t done, so that’s really complicated. And it’s really cold in here!” Moeller said.

“It’s kind of neat to have everyone excited for the school year,” gym teacher Cory Herrmann said. “One of the kids said it was neat that everyone was new to the school.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

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