New backpacks drooped off children's backs Tuesday morning, ready to receive new books while the students awaited their first day back to elementary school.
Outside Upper Blue Elementary, parents, teachers and children all gathered before the first class of the year, one day after Summit High School and Summit Middle School got their starts.
"I feel excited, but a little nervous," said fifth-grader Lily Young. She had a good summer hiking and biking, she said, but is looking forward to seeing friends and learning more in math class; Young is hoping to improve her multiplication and division skills.
The backpacks overshadowed the backs a little more on the side of the crowd where the first-graders stood. Student Cesar Gomez said he's excited to learn the subjects. It seems he's starting the year off right - he's beginning it with three friends, and he lost a tooth Tuesday morning.
"I was excited to see my friends, and to learn again," said first-day fifth-grader Elsa Bates, almost halfway through her first day back at Dillon Valley Elementary. When her little brother asked her what first grade was like in anticipation of his first day, her answer was simple: "It was fun."
New DVE second-grader Charlie Chabot said his new teacher is "super nice" and he's also excited to see his friends again. And, as some of his schoolmates indicated, Chabot's also looking forward to math class.
"I like my numbers a lot," he said. "I'm excited to be coming back to math."
Fifth-grader Tazio Damonte spent the first half of his day back at Dillon Valley getting organized with his class, and is looking forward to the haunted house at the Halloween carnival - the fifth-graders get to make it - and putting together his exhibition for the International Baccalaureate program. He did a lot of reading over the summer, and is now starting book 11 of the "The 39 Clues" series. Incoming third-, fourth- and fifth-graders were asked to read nine books each over the summer, and if the goal is met, they'll soon be awarded with a magic show.
Even though it's not really their first day back, the start of the students' year is also a little magical for teachers and administrators. Upper Blue principal Kerry Buhler noted the adrenaline and excitement in the air Tuesday morning, from the students, teachers and the parents. Speech therapist Marnie Haywood, who works between three elementaries but was at Upper Blue Tuesday, always loves seeing the kids back for the first day because it's "just a really positive time."
Both Haywood and DVE principal Cathy Beck said they're excited about the new district-wide implementation of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports system, a framework for teaching expected behaviors to children. On Friday, Beck said there will be stations set up around DVE to help teach children how to behave in public areas like the hallways and the bathrooms. Already on Tuesday, classes were walking through the halls in line and without chatter.
"I've worked in schools that practice it, and it's really magical," Beck said.