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Students Return for First Day of School, Finally

Most Baltimore County students kicked off the school year Wednesday after two days of closures due to Hurricane Irene; Seneca and Victory Villa elementary schools are among the 21 still closed due to power outages.

Liz Berman saw a silver lining to having Hurricane Irene come through Maryland this past weekend.

While she could have done without the downed trees and wires, flooding and power outages, the Essex woman said she enjoyed spending an extra two days with her son Dylan.

Dylan Berman, 5, was one of the thousands of Baltimore County students who began the new school year on Wednesday. Schools were slated to open Monday, but were closed for two days as the county and Baltimore Gas and Electric Company worked to restore power to the 63 schools left without electricity following Irene.

As of Wednesday morning, including and Victory Villa Elementary in the Essex-Middle River area. Those schools were closed for a third straight day.

“I felt both sad and happy today,” said Berman as she dropped off Dylan for his first day of kindergarten at . “I know he was ready for school, but I enjoyed having him home those extra days."

As for Dylan, Hurricane Irene is already a distant memory and he is ready to start school.

“I’m really excited about getting to color and meet new friends and learn new things,” Dylan said.

Starting at a new school wasn’t just for students Wednesday. The day also marked a new chapter for many area teachers and administrators starting at a new school. This included Principal Sharon Whitlock.

Whitlock is in her first year at the Essex school after spending the previous 14—including the last 11 as principal—at .

“The children, parents and staff have been so welcoming,” Whitlock said. “I’m learning what it’s like to be in a new school just like many of our students.”

Whitlock, said Mars Estates is ready for the new school year despite recent natural disasters, including Hurricane Irene and last week’s earthquake.

“Our theme for this year is ‘Destination Career USA,’” Whitlock said. “Part of a career journey is having some detours and obstacles along the way. That’s how we explained the last week to our students. Everyone here is now back and ready to learn.”

Also new on the job is Glenmar Elementary School principal Michael Parker. Parker took over after spending the last four years as assistant principal at the Middle River school.

"Given all of the issues we face over the last week, the first day of school went very smooth," Parker said. "Our community has been very supportive through all this."

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