East County students return to the classroom
Summer vacation has come to an end for East County kids as Gresham-Barlow, Reynolds and Centennial School Districts welcomed kids back into the classroom.
East Gresham Elementary School
At East Gresham Elementary, it was a celebration as students were welcomed back for the first day.
"There is nervous energy for everyone on the first day, even for me after working in education for 32 years," admitted Superintendent James Hiu. "I woke up at 2:30 a.m. this morning because I wanted to make sure everything went smoothly."
Teachers, staff and district administration lined the entrance hallway — clapping, cheering, blowing bubbles, and hugging nervous students on their first day. At the front door Principal Kimberly Miles was the first to say hello, and set a positive tone with her whirling energy. Some kids clutched hands of parents and older siblings, while others gravitated toward favorite teachers who were happy to give out big hugs and high fives.
"My babies are first graders now," said Kindergarten teacher Wendy Nelson.
Today was a breath of fresh air for all involved, as it was a more "normal" first day of school. The past few years were marred by the pandemic, with questions around virtual learning and distancing. For the 2022 school year masks are optional, and all the students are back under one roof.
"This building is a special place — both of my kids went to this school," Hiu said. "We want our students and families to all be seen and celebrated."
Sweetbriar Elementary School
Excitement was felt all morning at Sweetbriar Elementary School as students jumped out of their parents' cars and school buses to start their first day of school.
Sweetbriar's principal Marie Marianiello and her safety vest wearing staff welcomed returning and new students to Reynolds School District elementary school.
Although math lessons and vocab tests were on the mind of the teachers, Sweetbriar students like second grader Aubrey's only focus was seeing her friends again. Third graders Adam and Cannon were eager to get back into their old habit of playing together during recess.
"I can't wait to eat my lunch and go back to recess," Adam said while finishing-up a cup of apple sauce as the he and Cannon waited to start their first class of the year.
Second grader Riker said he was excited to show off his new Minecraft sweater and backpack, which he claims is an improvement on his first-grade outfit. Before he would join his fellow classmates, Riker it was important to get some food before he started his day.
"You have to eat a lot before you exercise," Riker said as he crunched on some crackers in the school's cafeteria. "We are going to do a lot of exercise today."
Reynolds Superintendent Danna Diaz accompanied Riker and other students just before they were sent off to meet their new teachers.
Meadows Elementary School
Centennial elementary school students got to feel that first day excitement on the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 7. The kids at Meadows Elementary School were fearless as they entered the school doors. For many it was their first time ever being inside an actual school. Sisters Hailey and Zoey had been through Zoom-classes for nearly two before they got to step into the Meadows for the first time.
"I am really excited to be at school and see my friends," Hailey said. "It is also my birthday, so I am even more excited."
Meadows' principal Lisa Clingan was ambushed by returning students eager to give their principal a first day of school hug.
"We are so excited to have all of our kids back," Clingan said. "We can't wait to have kids in our brand new school with all the updates being done. It is a great day to be a tiger cub."
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