By Todd Wels

Triplicate staff writer

Its an event Del Norte County students have dreaded for three months and one which administrators and teachers say theyve prepared for all summer.

Tomorrow is the first day of school.

On Monday, teachers at Mountain School were putting the final touches on their classrooms.

According to Vice Principal Jeff Napier, most of them had been preparing for the beginning of the school year all summer by taking required courses and seminars, as well as outlining their lesson plans for the coming year.

When they get in here, its just mainly getting the physical space prepared, he said.

That physical space will face possibly the largest number of changes in the Del Norte County Unified School District in the coming year.

This summer, a class of high school students, led by instructor Jay Fair, wired the entire school for the Internet, and with the recent state funding of the Community Center project, construction could begin in early 2001.

Second-and-third-grade instructor Norman Wilder spent Monday afternoon unpacking a new Internet-ready PC for his classroom.

He will soon be putting it to good use.

Were going to do a lot of things that weve wanted to do in the past but we just didnt have the access to do, including accessing educational games and Web sites, he said.

There will also be at least one new face at Mountain School this fall.

Genie Meyer, who said she always, always, always wanted to work in Northern California has gotten her wish, and will be teaching math to students in grades 2-4, as well as managing the schools Independent Study and after school programs.

I think Im ready, she said.

District administrators say theyre also ready for the new school year.

Yes, I think weve established a real strong foundation, Superintendent Walt Hanline said.

He said he anticipated continued improvements in student test scores, and a higher graduation rate at the end of the year.

I want to thank the staff for their high level of commitment to improving this district, Hanline said. I think people can see the fruits of some of that.

School begins Wednesday morning at all Del Norte County Unified School District facilities, as well as the McCarthy Center.