By Jackie Runion
The Marietta Times
As she waited outside Phillips Elementary Wednesday morning with her little brother and mother, fifth-grader Mya Harrigan beamed with pride on the first day of school.
“No one else is going to have the same book bag as me, because my mom made it,” Harrigan said, showing off a backpack onto which her mother had hand-stitched faux fur after they couldn’t find a similar design in stores.
Marietta, Fort Frye, Warren and the Washington County Career Center all opened their doors Wednesday for the first day of school, and students spent the day excitedly meeting old and new friends while teachers made sure everyone sat in the right seat and boarded the right bus.
First day excitement
“We help make kids feel comfortable in their classrooms,” said Karen Kubota, a Title 1 teacher at Lowell Elementary. “Everyone is nervous, so we spend the day getting them into a routine. It’s a different kind of excitement than the last day of school.”
Lowell Elementary kindergartner Wyatt Bennett sat at attention with fellow classmates as teacher Pam Bostic read them a story to get them comfortable with life at school.
“I’m just excited to be at school and get to learn,” Bennett said.
And just like the majority of his classmates, Bennett was excited to show off new school gear.
“I got light-up shoes for school this year, but I’m saving them for tomorrow,” he said. “And I like sharks and Ninja Turtles, so I wanted to wear my shark shirt today and I got a Ninja Turtles backpack.”
Lowell principal Krista Ross said the Fort Frye district rallied together this summer to create a motto, “Where Excellence is Non-Negotiable,” to put on T-shirts for the staff.
“That’s what we want to be known for,” Ross said.
Fort Frye students are given a six-digit identification number they use for computer usage, meals and other activities that they keep with them through high school, and staff reported the only real issue was helping students memorize them.
From new clothes to new teachers and new systems, children of all ages had different reasons to be excited for the start of the 2014-2015 school year.
“This year we don’t have assigned seats, so I get to sit with whoever I want,” Harrigan said.
Warren Local native Colin Snider was excited to start his junior year in a new school, as he began at the Washington County Career Center Wednesday to join the medical prep program.
“It’s different being here, but it’s hard to describe,” he said. “You get to meet a new group of people and make new friends, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
The career center opened Wednesday for first-year students and will open today for returning students.
“It’s a more mature atmosphere here, and the teachers really treat you like an adult,” said WCCC junior Hope Thomas, who just entered the computer graphics program. “I’m excited to learn and be able to describe what I want to do, and since I’m a hands-on person, it’ll be nice to have that.”
In the Warren district, elementary students are walking the halls of Barlow-Vincent Elementary for the last time this year before the school is converted to a middle school in 2015.
“I still wanted it to be summer, but school has been fun so far,” said second-grader Sarah Pettey. “I’m excited to get two recesses this year, because when I was in first grade we only got one.”
Teachers and administrators spent the day keeping organized and acclimating students to new classrooms, and most reported that the day had gone off without a hitch.
“I haven’t seen a crier yet, and that’s unusual,” said Phillips Elementary intervention specialist Karen Amrine.
First-year Fort Frye High School music teacher and band director Amy Shields said the days leading up to Wednesday had been hectic, but exciting.
“I’m excited to start rehearsing and start making music with my new students,” Shields said. “We have a lot to get ready to go, but by tomorrow I hope to start singing and playing instruments.”
At Fort Frye High School, new principal David Mounts led what will become a routine morning assembly to get students pumped up and organized for the day.
“It’s crazy, it’s scary, it’s exciting,” said Fort Frye senior Natalie Hart. “This is our first time doing this, but I think it’s nice that we all get together in the morning to start off the day.”
Like most seniors, Hart admitted she was most excited for graduation, while her youngest classmates had different thoughts in mind.
“It’s a lot different being in high school where you have all kinds of teachers, where in grade school you really just had one,” said seventh-grader Brady Schilling. “I’m excited to make some new friends here.”
Phillips Elementary parent Olivia Lohrey, a mother of a fifth-grader and a second-grader, said drop-off on the first day is always bittersweet.
“I’ll be honest, I’m a bit nervous and a little anxious about new teachers,” she said. “I know they have new math and new systems in place for fifth grade, so that might be a little hard.”
But even as she kissed her young son goodbye as he headed up the steps, she could not help but spare a laugh.
“I am ready for school too, because it’s guilt-free daycare,” Lohrey said.
Barlow-Vincent parent Beth Moyers said she had a hard time getting excited about her third grade son’s first day of school.
“With the changes, he is most likely going to have to go to Little Hocking next year then come right back here the year after,” she said. “But I keep it positive, and I always tell him ‘We’re going to have a good year.'”
Another Phillips Elementary parent, Keisha Maas, who has a child in third grade, said the first-day jitters are normal.
“I always get a bit nervous, and each year I always wait around to make sure she’s in the door,” Maas said. “But once she’s in, I’m good.”
In Washington County, Belpre City Schools and Wolf Creek Local Schools both kicked off their first days Tuesday, while Frontier Local will begin school today.