Hundreds of Lakeside High School students donned black shirts Monday, the first day of school, in remembrance of Nicholas Hartfield.
Students called it a "black-out."
Hartfield, 17, drowned last week in the Savannah River. He would have been a sophomore at Lakeside.
"He was kind of shy, but he was very funny," 17-year-old Amanda Clark said of Hartfield. "We had an art class together, and he always made me laugh."
Clark and other students learned of the black-out through a Facebook page dedicated to Hartfield.
"All these messages just started going out that everyone should wear black," she said.
Aside from the black clothing, everything else at Lakeside seemed like typical first-day-of-school happenings -- dozens of parents still were dropping off their children long after the bell rang; pupils set up tables in the commons area to catch up with friends in relative comfort; and freshmen gathered around a billboard to find their homeroom.
"On a scale of one to 10, I'd give it a 5," Shadow Jones, a 15-year-old freshman, said of her nervousness over starting high school.
Shadow's friend, 14-year-old Hope Rock, agreed.
"It's a little stressful, but not too bad," Hope said.
Also starting over at a new school was Pooja Parmar.
Originally from Dothan, Ala., the 10-year-old recently moved to Martinez and was excited to start the fifth grade at Blue Ridge Elementary.
"This school is a lot bigger than the one I was at before, so I can make a lot more friends," Pooja said. "My old school was just one building."
Other Blue Ridge pupils were decidedly less excited.
"It's OK," 7-year-old Jacob Cox, a second-grader, said of the first day of classes. "It's not as fun as the last day."
Though Steven Cummings isn't new to the school system, he is new to Columbia Middle School, where he now is principal.
"I didn't sleep last night, as you can imagine," he said.
Cummings had time to work out, have breakfast and watch a spiritual show, all before being at the school decked out in a suit by 6 a.m.
Before coming to Columbia Middle, Cummings spent three years as assistant principal at Blue Ridge.
On his first day, Cummings immediately took over a sixth-grade classroom for a teacher who had an emergency.
Aside from the first day of a new school year, Cummings said he's nervous and excited that he'll likely be the first principal of a new Columbia Middle.
During a recent primary election, voters approved a 1-percent sales tax and bond referendum that will supply funds to replace the aging school.
Construction of the new school on Columbia Road near Hereford Farm and Lewiston roads, is expected to start in December. The new school is to open in August 2012.
Bel Air Elementary is to be closed about two years later. Its student body will be split between new, larger versions of Evans and Martinez elementary schools.
"Yes, it is (sad)," Principal Mark Boyd said as he greeted pupils on the front walk of the school Monday. "We've got a couple more years."
Bel Air Elementary is one of the older Columbia County schools still in use.
"Most everybody who went to school in Columbia County 20 years ago or whatever (attended Bel Air)," Boyd said.
But thoughts of the school's closing wasn't on the minds of pupils arriving for their first day of classes.
Brooklyn Holt, 4, was more interested in getting into her pre-kindergarten classroom and playing with her new classmates.
"She's an independent little thing," said her mother, Janice Hanley.
The girl stowed her backpack in her cubby and headed to a large carpet to play with toys before class started.
"I've always had a problem with this first-day-of-school thing," said Hanley, who gave Brooklyn a quick hug before retreating misty-eyed to the hallway.
Donna Anthony said she expected her son Devin, 4, to be upset when she left him in his pre-K classroom Monday. But Devin calmly picked out his lunch and headed to the carpet to play near Brooklyn.
"I thought he'd be grabbing my leg," said his father, William. "He's been so excited about coming to school."
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