As schools opened Tuesday in Anne Arundel County with a record 76,600 students, Bates Middle School sixth-grader Londell Owens said he's looking forward to learning much in his classes "and having fun doing it."

Among those who were in attendance at Bates on Tuesday morning were Superintendent Kevin Maxwell, several board of education members and interim state Superintendent Bernard Sadusky, who took over when long-time superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick retired at the end of last school year.

"It's a lot of energy," said Sadusky as he watched students file into Bates. "One of the things about education is that it always has a new beginning with the new school year. With that new beginning we see increased energies by our teachers. The students all have smiles on their faces. They can't wait to see who their teachers are going to be, where their friends are going to be."

Anne Arundel students in grades one through six and nine returned to classes Tuesday.

Classes were disrupted at 1:51 p.m. when the earthquake hit. All schools were evacuated and students were later allowed to re-enter. Students were dismissed on a normal schedule but all after-school activities were canceled. School spokesman Bob Mosier said that all schools will be open on time Wednesday, though some isolated areas may be off-limits because of minor damage.

Schools were to open for other middle and high school students on Wednesday, and Early Childhood Intervention, kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students will return over the rest of the month.

"We think it's a wonderful thing to get the sixth-graders in before everyone else before they get acclimated before the halls get crowded and find their way around," said Maxwell. "It's good for them to get a little bit of hand-holding as they make this important transition."

Baltimore City and Baltimore, Howard and Harford counties start the school year Monday; Carroll County opens Aug. 30. All of the state's school systems will be in session before September for the second straight year, department of education officials said.

Parents who accompanied their children to Bates on Tuesday morning said that overall the youngsters settled in well during the first day. "It was pretty easy; it's nice to know they were going to give the kids breakfast," said Harriet Bundley-Reyes of Annapolis, whose daughter, Autumn Coleman, began her first day in middle school.

"Autumn seemed pretty comfortable; she sat down and there was a little girl crying and I said, 'What's wrong?' and for her it was just the transition from elementary school to middle school," Bundley-Reyes added. "I don't know how my daughter will be after school, but we'll see."

joseph.burris@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun reporter Liz Bowie contributed to this article.

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