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April 13, 2012

'A great problem to have' (UPDATED WITH NEW VIDEO)

50+ rush sign-up line to camp out for city out-of-district registration

CULLMAN — To call it hectic would be an understatement. The outside of Cullman City Primary looked more like the start of a relay race — or a scene from the Hollywood hit The Hunger Games — than it did a school Friday afternoon.

Especially for those getting ready to hurry up and wait for out-of-district registration Saturday morning.

“The natives are getting restless,” one person joked from the crowd of more than 50 on hand.

Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. was the first time area parents could arrive to get in line for what will likely be just a handful of slots, and by 3:05 p.m. a large crowd had gathered at the edge of campus. By the time the clock struck 3:30 p.m., the mob rushed the starting line, with two Cullman Police officers on site to keep the peace. Luckily, apart from a brief bum rush and a bit of bickering, the crowd remained orderly.

Primary School Principal Tricia Culpepper spent the afternoon laying out some ground rules for those in line, letting them know where to set up camp, and when the doors would open for bathroom breaks.

For Good Hope resident Wescoat Free, who somehow wound up first in line (see video below), the overnight wait is a small price to pay to get his own children into his alma mater.

“I graduated from Cullman, my wife graduated from Cullman, and we want our kids to, as well,” he said. “It’s well worth it.”

It’s a strange problem to have — with a mob of area residents camping out overnight in hopes of scoring an open slot into the Cullman City Schools system — but Superintendent Dr. Jan Harris is quick to note: It’s also a good problem.

“You all are the people we want, who value education so much,” she told the crowd. “This has developed into a great problem to have, with so many people wanting to get into our school system.”

The crowds have gotten larger in recent years, and Harris said officials may have to look at other options for registration in 2013. The school originally held registration on Monday mornings, but after crowds started camping out the entire weekend, they moved it to Saturdays.

“We just set the time for registration, and this is something that has developed,” she said. “We’re talking about maybe doing it online, where it opens at a certain time, then you just have to log on at that time.”

 

Above, Out of district parents form a line around 3:15 p.m. Friday afternoon on the campus of Cullman City Primary School hoping to get a spot in line for the 3:30 pm scheduled start time. Most had been waiting just off campus since 3:05 p.m.

 

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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