Hundreds of Washington County students strapped on their bookbags, headed to the bus stop and began a new school year Wednesday, in a first day filled with nerves, reunions and tears.
All county districts except for Belpre had their first day Wednesday, with Belpre having started classes a week earlier.
"I was ready to come back," said Lowell Elementary sixth-grader Josh Carroll, 11. "I got kind of bored over the summer."
Students exit Marietta High School on the first day.
Newport Elementary kindergartner Brenden Buck, 5, wasn't nearly as ready to start his first day of school, clinging to his mother, Christa, and shedding a few tears as they said good-bye.
"He was excited when we first got here, but then he got a little scared," said Christa Buck. "I keep telling him that by noon he won't remember what he was crying about. He'll have so much fun."
Brenden wasn't the only one shedding tears, his mother admitted.
KATE YORK The Marietta Times
Christa Buck comforts her son Brenden, 5, as he arrives for his first day of kindergarten at Newport Elementary.
"This is heartbreaking for me," she said of sending her oldest child to school for the first time. "I knew I would cry."
The first day of school is often the hardest for moms, especially moms of kindergartners, said 36-year Waterford Elementary secretary Eva Ball.
"I did have a call today from a kindergarten parent," she said. "They worry."
Most of the students, though, are full of energy and enthusiasm, Ball said.
"They're so excited when they come in and just a little scared to be in a new room," she said. "It's been a good day. I'm just tickled to see them."
Warren High School social studies teacher Debbie Clark makes every first day all about easing her new students in and making them comfortable, especially since she teaches high school freshmen.
"They're afraid of being lost and afraid of being late," she said. "I tell them a lot about me and about my kids and that I'm a mom and a grandma. I try to put them at ease."
In addition to the rocking chair and family pictures that are always in her classroom, Clark decided Wednesday to bring in peach cobbler and an apple crisp for her homeroom.
"I try to make this home for them," she said.
Marietta High School junior Rebecca Brockmeier, 16, said she thinks first-day-of-school anxiety is mostly "just a freshman kind of thing," especially since she has prom and off-campus lunches to look forward to now that she's an upperclassman.
"I'm OK with it; I enjoy coming back," she said. "I think everyone is excited on the first day and then after one day, we're all like, 'When is Labor Day?'"
For some students, the only tough part of starting a new academic year was simply starting the day.
"I slept until 12 every day this summer," said Lowell Elementary sixth-grader Tyler Rowley, 11.
"He would eat, sleep and play video games all day," said classmate Sebastian Drawdy, 11.
It may take a few days to really get back into the routine of schools days, said their friend Steven Weber, 11.
"We wanted some more summer," he said.
Others were up bright and early and ready to start learning.
"She got up, got dressed, had breakfast and everything went smoothly," said Barb Everson, about her daughter, Veronica, who began her first-grade year at Lowell Elementary Wednesday. "She's very smart, and she likes school and learning."
Veronica, 6, said she spent the night before carefully picking out her clothes and anxiously awaiting Wednesday morning.
"I like my pretty white jeans," she said. "They're capris, actually."
Miles away in the Frontier Local district, Newport Elementary third-grader Logan Brookover, 8, said he spent no time whatsoever considering what to wear for the first day of school but was happy to be back in the school.
"I was ready," he said. "I kind of wanted it to still be summer, but I really wanted to see my friends. And I'm looking forward to learning a little."