When parents drop off elementary students for the first day of the 2015-16 school year on Wednesday, Aug. 12, they'll be greeted by Bexley Education Foundation members who will offer them free coffee.

When parents drop off elementary students for the first day of the 2015-16 school year on Wednesday, Aug. 12, they'll be greeted by Bexley Education Foundation members who will offer them free coffee.

This is just one activity that will kick off the new school year.

"We've had these had these coffees at the school for the past two or three years, but this is the first time they've done it at the front entrance," said Amy Thompson, spokeswoman for Bexley City Schools.

All students return Wednesday, except for kindergartners, who begin the year with a "staggered start" that was introduced in 2011 as a way to ease the transition into their first school experience, Thompson said.

"Seven or eight students come to school each day for the first three days of class, giving everyone extra time to establish a calm environment, practice classroom routines and get acquainted," she said.

Cassingham, Maryland and Montrose elementary schools also host New Family Night gatherings today, Aug. 6, to help students who are new to the district get acquainted with their surroundings. The event at Montrose begins at 6 p.m., while Cassingham's event begins at 6:30 p.m. and Maryland's will be at 7 p.m.

"It's for families who are new to the school in any grade," Thompson said.

Middle school students will pick up their schedules and have school pictures takenbeginning at 8 a.m. Friday, Aug. 7. Bexley High School's freshman orientation will be held at 9 a.m. today, Aug. 6. For the third year, upperclassmen designated as "M-Factor mentors" will meet with incoming freshmen.

"They answer questions about the transition, help the new students think long-term and reduce anxiety," high school counselor David Leland said in a news release from the district.

Starting this fall, the high school will offer the College Credit Plus Program through Columbus State Community College, in compliance with a new Ohio law that replaces the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options and Dual Enrollment programs. Bexley's high school students can earn college credit through College Credit Plus, which is designed to prepare young people for college and to eventually enter the workforce, Laura Lipsett, the district's executive director of Student Programs, said at the Bexley Board of Education's July 13 meeting.

In addition to the usual cleaning of school buildings in preparation for the new school year, maintenance staff members completed repairs and maintenance on the pillars in front of the district's main building, the Cassingham Complex at 326 S. Cassingham Road.

The district also installed safety netting over the orchestra pit in the main theater at Bexley High School and the parking lot at Montrose has been resurfaced.

When students report for the first day of school, they will notice upgraded security systems at the schools' entrances that were installed over the summer. The enhanced safety measures were funded by a grant from the state of Ohio and Attorney General Mike DeWine, John Eikenberry, the district's business manager, said.

There also will be several new teachers in district classrooms.

Lindsey Friedstrom comes to Montrose this fall, replacing the retired Dean Hoover in second grade.

Brian Homan will be Maryland's intervention specialist, replacing Denny Devine, who retired.

Margaret Cieply, a Bexley graduate, will teach a section of fourth grade that has been added due to higher enrollment in the grade at Maryland.

Angela Herrel will teach third grade at Cassingham, replacing Julie Fitzgerald, who moved to teaching first grade.

Lori Smith joins the staff at Maryland, teaching half-time in fourth grade, sharing a classroom with teacher leader Rachel Niswander.

Mary Young will take over the Montrose kindergarten classroom of Mary Byrne, who retired this spring.

Cassidy Schlitter, formerly a kindergarten teacher at Maryland, will assume the Montrose position vacated by the retirement of Nancy Prater.

Taking over at Montrose as a Title I reading teacher, replacing the retired Kay Young, is Sheri McGreen.

Pamela Sexton will teach fourth grade at Montrose, replacing the retired Leslie Ressa.

Adam Strait fills the position of physical education specialist at Montrose, replacing Jill Welsh, who retired this spring.

Cynthia Tyson of Bexley becomes Montrose's registered nurse, replacing Christine Cleary, who also retired this year.