In #RaiseMKE

Dr. Darienne Driver welcomes students back to James Madison Academic Campus this morning. (PHOTO: Milwaukee Public Schools)

Though it's only Aug. 14, it's back to school for some

Sure, it's only Aug. 14, but with a new early start date for high schools, middle schools and some elementaries, too, many Milwaukee Public Schools students are sitting in their classrooms for the first day of school, too.

To kick off this first day of school, Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver was joined by a number of community members at James Madison Academic Campus, 8135 W. Florist Ave., for the traditional ringing of the back to school bell.

The idea of the earlier start date – the remainder of traditional calendar MPS schools open again on Tuesday, Sept. 5 – is that students will have more classroom time under their belts by the time standardized tests will roll around, allowing them extra time to prepare themselves. Hopefully, this will lead to better results on national tests like the ACT and AP exams.

The first semester will also now end in December rather than after holiday break, which never really made much sense.

The second semester will end earlier than in the past, too, but the addition of the new June Term (aka J-Term) offers kids a chance to either make up ground or get ahead. The J-Term plus the annual July summer academy should help prevent summer slide for students who participate.

According to a district press release, the pilot J-Term this summer "had encouraging results with 70% of the participating seniors graduating this summer."

Today was also the first day of school that required all students (except the handful of schools that opted out) to wear uniforms. It'll be interesting to see how that pans out.

While the parent of a Rufus King IB High School student told me she saw "exactly one student" in uniform at morning drop-off today, one principal at a uniform school said although that most students arrived in uniform Monday, "quite a few" families have opted out of uniforms.

I hope the new early start date has the desired effect. Happy first day of school, (some) kids! Let's make it a great year!

Here are some photos taken today:

One of @madisonjmac's littlest neighbors helped us welcome students back today! #mpsdayone

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We're getting ready to welcome JMAC students back to school for Day One! #mpsdayone

A post shared by Milwaukee MPS (@milwaukeemps) on

Welcome back Knights! #mpsdayone

A post shared by Milwaukee MPS (@milwaukeemps) on

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