CRESTVIEW — Sixth-grader Karlie Baxley was fashionably clad in new hot pink-and-orange shoes and a new blue-and-green plaid shirt contrasting with new black slacks. Her new purple, black and grey school portfolio case was under her arm.
Waiting as her father attended to some administrative matters at the school office, Karlie was ready for her first day back at Davidson Middle School. Almost.
“I’m actually nervous,” she said. “I’m late for my first class.”
By the thousands, students streamed back to the halls of academia Monday morning. Eager moms and dads snarled morning traffic as they drove their children to their first day of school.
After a summer’s absence, yellow school buses once more prowled the streets, picking up and later disgorging scores of Bulldogs, Gators, Hoboes, Panthers, Owls, Bullpups, Aviators, Eagles, Mustangs, Tigers, Cougars and Lions.
Principals and teachers welcomed students, parents and grandparents.
“We lost Grandpa,” a grandmother said, chuckling, after she and her husband saw their grandchild to her room at Bob Sikes Elementary. The woman then returned alone to the front entrance.
“Sorry, we’re just responsible for ages 5 through 12,” Principal Vicki Hayden jokingly replied.
“(I have) mixed emotions, but I am ready for them to return and learn to the best of their abilities,” Maryann Beckworth said as she took her two children, Victoria and Jacob, into Baker School.
Both kids said they were excited about going back to school.
“It’s fun,” Jacob said. “You get learn about everything,”
Returning for his final year at Riverside Elementary School, Francisco Cerda, 10, had another perspective.
“It feels like any other year,” he said.
Watching her children grow up is “kind of depressing,” his mother, Sulema Rodriguez, said with a smile.
She also has a daughter attending neighboring Shoal River Middle School.
Many parents were happy to send their children back to school.
“I’m glad to be back on a routine,” Mandy Odors said while picking up her 13-year-old son, Shawn after his first day in seventh grade at Laurel Hill School. “Things are definitely quieter at home.”
‘I CAN’T WAIT’
At Walker Elementary, Ethan Ibi sported a backpack almost as big as himself. He gripped the hand of his sister, Camille, a wise and experienced fourth-grader.
“I love it,” Ethan said when asked if he liked school.
“I can’t wait to go back, either!” Camille added.
At Northwood Arts and Science Academy, visual stimuli hung from the canopy columns while a new crouching green frog sculpture made of recycled tires welcomed parents and students.
Rezoning led to a decrease in Bob Sikes Elementary School’s population, down to 780 students from 852 in June, while numbers rose at Walker Elementary.
“We’re up to 830,” Principal Jeanine Kirkland said. “Right now we’re about 100 kids more than we were at the end of the (school) year.”
Laurel Hill School principal Lee Martello said the first day was relatively quiet, except for a false school fire alarm, which went off in the morning.
Martello said school faculty, staff and students did not miss a beat, properly clearing the building in record time.