Schools buzzing as students return in State College

As Zac Wynkoop stood in the hallway of Radio Park Elementary School, students walked past him with a wave and a smile.

This wasn’t just the first day of classes for State College Area School District, but the first day for Wynkoop as Radio Park’s principal.

“It’s really nice to be welcomed like this,” Wynkoop said.

The western Pennsylvania native previously was vice principal for Bellwood-Antis High School in Bellwood, down Interstate 99.

Wynkoop officially started Aug. 19. On Tuesday, he spent his first day as principal with the students, going from classroom to classroom introducing himself and mingling with staff.

“Things have gone smoothly so far. There’s a nice positive energy,” Wynkoop said. “The kids seem excited to be back with friends, and it’s our job to make sure they’re ready to go.”

This week for Radio Park, he said the 343 students would be heavily involved in community and peer-building activities with their classmates as teachers ease into academics with help from Penn State interns.

Third-grade teacher Kimber Hershberger said she is being aided this school year by Penn State intern Nicole Iozzia. On Tuesday, she said, her class started out with class-building exercises and will practice cursive using their fingers dipped in chocolate.

On Tuesday morning, her class came up with an idea to make a flag to represent their class.

And for the young students, the theme is being happy to meet new friends.

For Ragga Halldorsdottir, 5, a first-grader, this is her first year at Radio Park.

Previously at the State College Friends School, Ragga said that, so far, her favorite things were meeting her classmates and teacher Mrs. Meyer, and having a snack — tomatoes and zucchini from the garden she helps grow with her parents and siblings.

At State High, Principal Scott DeShong said the school kicked off the day with a schoolwide assembly for about 2,300 students.

“It was a nice way to welcome everyone back and start the day,” DeShong said. “The students have been enthusiastic.”

DeShong said Tuesday and Thursday were dedicated to welcoming students and holding an activities fair for students who want to take part in the 80 clubs the school offers. This, he said, is all part of orientation week.