School bells rang Tuesday morning, marking the end of summer for more than 24,000 students in Columbia County.
Children and parents at Baker Place Elementary School filed into the building well before classes started.
About 880 pupils attend the school, now in its second year, said Baker Place Principal Leeann Fleischauer. That number has risen by about 100 pupils since the start of the 2011 school year.
“We know each other now,” Fleischauer said. “We’re a family now here at Baker Place, and we’ll continue to foster that.”
School Superintendent Charles Nagle said even though a couple of bus drivers called in sick, most buses arrived to school on time.
“You couldn’t even tell that we hadn’t been doing it all summer,” he said. “I was very proud of how well prepared we were for this morning.”
Kayla Whitfield, a second-grader at Baker Place, was already excited about recess.
The 7-year-old said that while she had a good summer, she’s ready to get back into the classroom.
Kayla said she wants to learn “how to count by three,” adding that her favorite subject is math.
First-grade teacher Katie Holmes said the first day of school gives educators the chance to establish a one-on-one relationship with pupils.
A teacher for five years, Holmes has seen her fair share of first day meltdowns.
“Sometimes, the little kids are a little anxious,” said Holmes, who was recently named the school’s Teacher of the Year. “As soon as they (the parents) leave, the kids are comfortable in that environment.”
Fleischauer said that her top priorities for the new school year are to promote academic excellence as well as to continue building relationships with parents and pupils.
“We have lots of goals this year,” she said.