Back-to-school: First day fun with friends
Area students didn't let the cloudy morning Tuesday keep them down, as they returned to their schools for the first day of the 2016-17 school year. At Harrison Elementary School, principal Cathy Nault doled out hugs, high-fives and encouragement ...
Area students didn't let the cloudy morning Tuesday keep them down, as they returned to their schools for the first day of the 2016-17 school year.
At Harrison Elementary School, principal Cathy Nault doled out hugs, high-fives and encouragement to parents and children arriving to the school prior to the first bell at 8:20 a.m.
"There's something magical about elementary school," Nault said. "The kids love to be here."
One such child was second-grader DJ Merritt, who triumphantly raised his arms as he walked into the school and said, "I'm back." First-grader Richard Roberts practically pulled his father Jim Roberts down the sidewalk as they walked toward the school. Richard woke his father up at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, ready to get to school as soon as he could, his father said.
"It's good to see him that excited to go to school," Jim Roberts said. "I wasn't as excited as he is when I was his age."
Noting the overcast skies, Nault said she just hoped the rain held off until the afternoon, so the kids could have recess outside on the first day of school.
"We've got to have outdoor recess," Nault said. "The kids love to run around on the playground."
Students arrived by bus, by car and on foot, as many parents walked their students to the neighborhood school. It's part of what makes Harrison special, Nault said, that families can walk their children to school in the morning. Brainerd School Board member Reed Campbell joined Nault at the front of the school to welcome students back.
After dropping her child off, Melissa Murphy hugged Nault and told her, "you have the best little school ever."
Nault spent 30 years at Riverside Elementary School and Tuesday was her 45th first day of school working in education. Riverside and Harrison are similar in that both are family-oriented, she said.
"This is just a gem of a school," Nault said, gesturing to the school behind her.
Tuesday, area school districts provided an update on their forecasts for the 2016-17 school year. Laine Larson, Brainerd Public Schools superintendent, took over her position on July 1, so Tuesday was her first day of school in the district. She stopped in at multiple school buildings Tuesday and hopes to visit each of them this week, she said, and it's fun to see students and teachers alike excited and happy to get back to school.
"The energy is just wonderful," Larson said. "It's just fun to see the energy and the excitement. This is why we're here."
The staff of the Crosby-Ironton School District invested a lot of time to make the first day of school perfect for returning and first-time students, Superintendent Jamie Skjeveland said.
"It was evident this morning that our students came to school ready to learn," Skjeveland said. "We are off to a great start to the school year."
The district's enrollment is expected to be higher than projected, Skjeveland said, due to the number of students open enrolling into the district. Currently, enrollment is around 1,010 students.
The first day of school in the Pillager School District went smoothly and there were no big glitches, Superintendent Mike Malmberg said. He went out and met some students at the bus stop Tuesday morning, he said, and also sat with some students for lunch.
"I always like to tell the kids, 'Hey, you're going to have at least one great day,'" Malmberg said with a laugh. "They're all excited to get back and see their friends and the first day is always a good day."
The district's enrollment is about 1,050 students, Malmberg said, which shows about 4 percent from the last day of the previous school year.
It was also a smooth first day of school in the Pequot Lakes School District, Superintendent Chris Lindholm said. He made multiple trips through the halls of the district's secondary building Tuesday and plans to go to Eagle View Elementary School Wednesday.
"It is always a better day when there are kid voices in the hallways and just the energy that they bring around here," Lindholm said. "It gets a little quiet in the summer months."
The district's enrollment is about 1,665 students, Lindholm said, which is higher than projected. This year, he said he's looking forward to a larger rollout of the district's one-to-one Chromebook program, which started last spring with students in grades 6-9. Parents can purchase a discounted Chromebook for their student, he said, and most districts are moving toward a one-to-one device program.
The Staples-Motley School District undertook an extensive restart program since the end of the previous school year, Superintendent Mary Klamm said. Almost every teacher moved during the reorganization, she said, so it was important to make sure everyone got where they needed to go on the first day.
"We had a lot of people on hand to make kids feel comfortable and safe," Klamm said. "I felt very good about the start of the year."
Klamm got to the three schools in the district Tuesday, she said, and spent time visiting with children as they got off the bus. The district's enrollment is 1,163 students, which is an increase of about eight students over last year. It's good news for a district which has seen a decrease in enrollment for several years, she said.
"We feel very good about that," Klamm said. "We hope that now we're turning a corner."