A new school year started Friday as classes began in Columbia County public schools.
About 21,000 pupils reported to school Friday, with more than 800 of them entering a new Evans Middle School on Hereford Farm Road.
"It's a lot nicer," said Rebecca Beaird, a 13-year-old eighth-grader who attended the old Evans Middle at the corner of Belair and Washington roads last year. "It's bigger. It's newer. It's just nicer."
Third-graders Christopher Cozart and Zachary Saturday, both 8, chatted over a lunch table Friday morning as they awaited the first bell at Euchee Creek Elementary School.
"We're going to school and then we get two days off," Christopher said of Friday's start.
"It should always be like that," added Zachary.
Jackie Creasy, the principal of Greenbrier Middle School, said students must have been eager to start school Friday.
"When I got here at 6:30 a.m., there was already 15 of them here," said Creasy. The school doors don't open until 7 a.m.
Creasy couldn't let the pupils wait outside, so she opened the door and let the ever-growing number of early students hang out in the commons area to await the first school bell of the year.
Eighth-grader Ricky Sessum, 13, took a little extra rest because the early morning was already taking its toll.
"(I might be awake) by the time I get home," Ricky said.
At Greenbrier Elementary School, Eddie Overby and his 5-year-old son, Christian, anticipated a lot of traffic and arrived early. While waiting the 20 minutes for the door to open at 8 a.m., they enjoyed a game of tag on the school's front walk.
"He's excited about big-boy school," Overby said of his son, who attended pre-kindergarten last year, but was very eager to start kindergarten.
The first day of school was an opportunity for Lakeside High sophomore Megan Pakradooni to see old friends for the first time in three years. Megan and her family recently returned to Columbia County after living at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
"I can't wait to see all my friends again," Megan said. She and her classmates kept in touch through the Internet.
Sixth-grader Isha Godbold said she was ready as she walked up to Lakeside Middle with her parents, Measie and Greg Godbold. Isha said she was excited to meet her teachers, but there were three parts of summer she said she would miss.
"TV and staying up late and vacations," she said.
At Blue Ridge Elementary, dozens of parents snapped photographs of their children as they walked to class.
As kindergartner Andrew Powell made his way to his first ever class, his mother Amie filmed her visibly excited son.
"I think I'm more anxious than he is," Amie said.
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