The first day of school was eagerly anticipated as anxious parents and excited children gathered outside Columbia County elementary schools long before the doors opened Monday.
At Greenbrier Elementary School, Amy Brower and countless other parents snapped photographs of their children on their first day of school.
Brower's two oldest daughters, Maddie, 9, and Anna, 7, smiled for the camera in front of the building in their new Greenbrier T-shirts. It's the girls' first year at the school.
"Who are they going to sit with at lunch? That's my biggest concern," said their mother.
Fifth-grader Ivan Florentino, 11, was one of several safety patrol officers on duty at Greenbrier Elementary.
"I'm making sure cars are going down to the end there, and they're opening the door for (the pupils)," he said as he manned his station on the sidewalk.
Cedar Ridge Elementary School pupil Haley Edwards, 5, of Martinez, said she was excited about starting kindergarten, her first day in public school. She got a little help settling in from her mother, Heather Edwards, who said the family is building a home in Grovetown.
Edwards said she is happy her daughter is attending a new school, and Haley said she was looking forward to having fun on her first day.
Xeth Wilson, 5, wasn't as excited about his first day of kindergarten. He cried at his classroom seat and clung to his mother, Janie Wilson, of Grovetown, each time she tried to pull away.
"He'll be fine when I leave," Wilson said.
Principal Sarah Walls said the first morning at Cedar Ridge, the county's newest school, went smoothly as parents and pupils bustled to classrooms.
"It has been great," Walls said, as she hurried to get a needed table to a teacher. "Everything is going smoothly. Everybody pitches in, and it all gets done."
The school construction is complete, but crews were still readying a few more things on the school grounds.
Traffic was another priority on the first day of school.
Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said the first couple of weeks of school are hectic while traffic patterns settle.
"We just encourage motorists to leave early and be patient," he said.
Traffic also was on the minds of school officials who monitored William Few and Gen. Wood parkways, which lead to Greenbrier High School.
"I really think the traffic flow was good," said Dewayne Porter, the school system's transportation director, who directed incoming traffic on William Few Parkway. "We're going to be watching it for the first 10 days and evaluate and re-evaluate it again."
Robbie Jarrell, the assistant superintendent for student support, monitored traffic on Gen. Wood Parkway, which opened this summer and provides an alternative route into the Greenbrier school complex.
Although fewer cars than he had hoped used the new road, Jarrell was pleased overall.
"By 7:30, everyone was in the complex," he said.
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