Parents and students began lining up early Monday morning for the first day of school at Elkin Elementary.
Logan Wiles, holding onto the straps of his new L.L. Bean camouflage bookbag on his back, and his mother, Traci, stood near the front. “His best friend’s in the same class as him,” she said, “so he’s excited.”
He wasn’t the only one excited. Avett Simmons, also a first-grader, waited eagerly with his mother, Jessica, for school officials to open the door at 7:45. “I had a great summer,” he said.
Avett’s family went to the beach on vacation, and one of his favorite parts was touring the USS North Carolina Battleship in Wilmington. His mother said she was excited about getting back into their normal routine now that school is starting back.
Giobanna Bullis, who is in Matthew Wagoner’s first-grade class, arrived at school with more than a new Paw Patrol bookbag. She wore a cast on her arm wrapped in pink gauze, having broken it playing on the playground at her church. Her mother, Tammy, said Giobanna was a little nervous about going back to school in a cast.
The long line began to move quickly when school secretary Anita Carter opened the front door, greeting the first- through sixth-graders and their parents as they walked through the door.
“Everybody was excited to be back,” said Carter, who is beginning her 18th year at the school. “All I heard were positive comments.”
In Jennifer Caudle’s first-grade classroom, Cade Russell paused from coloring to greet everyone who walked in the door with a bright smile. “I’m very good at coloring,” he said when asked about his art. One look at his work proved that true.
Students’ names were written on sentence strips taped to the tables so they would know where to sit.
Mindy Renegar hugged her daughter, Mavery, before she left the classroom, turning back for one last look. Mavery, who was excited about being back in school, said she loves it when her class goes outside.
Hector Hernadez said he was there “to learn.”
In Robbin Harris’ first-grade classroom, students were working on their assignment to color and cut out a bear to glue onto a popsicle stick as a puppet.
Ariana Rios Perez discussed “Docket Rocket,” one of the books she read this summer, with curriculum facilitator Shannon Macy Swaim. Ariana said her goals for this year are “to learn how to write and to read.”
“Good coloring,” Harris said as she walked around looking at their bears. “Are you sure you’re not in second grade?” she asked.
Harris, who is starting her 27th year as a teacher, continued encouraging the students. “You’re doing a good job,” she said to one. “Has it been a while since you practiced cutting? I like the colors that you used.”
When asked about his summer, Trenton Conley said he went swimming with his brother a lot. “He pulled me under the water,” he said, laughing.
When Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe dropped by Jerry Ann Brown’s third-grade classroom, Passion Smith told her classmates, “He’s the boss of everything.”
“You’re going to learn so many great things,” Bledsoe told the class. “It’s going to be great.”
Principal Pam Colbert, who returns to Elkin Elementary this year after nine years as principal at Elkin Middle, said Monday was a wonderful day. “Our kind staff worked in extra areas so they could help the kids get comfortable,” she said. “Our lunches ran on schedule.
“The car line lasted just about 25 minutes which is really impressive for Elkin Elementary, and lots of exciting things happened in the classroom on the first day.”
After teaching in the Wilkes and Surry county school systems early in her career, Colbert taught kindergarten and second-grade classes at Elkin Elementary for six years. She served as assistant principal before leaving to become the principal at Elkin Middle.
“When this position came open,” she said, “I thought it was time for a chance to do something new and different to rejuvenate myself as an educator. I’m loving it. It’s great.”
Elkin Elementary also has a new assistant principal in Dustin Webb, who spent the last three years as assistant principal at Pilot Mountain Middle School. “I thought the first day of school was fantastic,” he said. “It was filled with smiling faces. We have a great group of teachers here at Elkin Elementary.
“They care so much for the students, and their efforts made it a fantastic day. I couldn’t have asked for better.”
Colbert said she and Paige Johnson, the new guidance counselor at the school, have planned a special “Boo Hoo Party” breakfast for parents of kindergarten students after they leave their children in their classes Friday morning. “It’s tough for parents when their children make that entry into school,” she said, “so we’re trying to help alleviate that for them.”
Kindergarten students were divided into three groups for a staggered entry, with a separate group reporting on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. “The reason we do this is to try to acclimate them to school when they’ve got a smaller ratio of adults to each child,” she said. “This helps them get off to a good start.”
Bledsoe said he enjoyed seeing students at all three of the Elkin City Schools. “There were a lot of smiling faces today,” he said. “It’s always a great sight on the first day when parents and students are all excited about the beginning of the school year.
“It’s priceless to me when I see our kids come back and they’re happy to see our staff members, their principals and even us guys from the central office,” Bledsoe said. “I had kids who gave me a hug and that’s just priceless. I was excited about getting school started today, and my excitement will continue every single day throughout the year.”
The administrative staff does a lot of behind-the-scenes preparation during the summers to get everything ready for school to start back, the superintendent said. “Everything going well today is truly a reflection on our administrators and the work that they put in this summer to make sure that our schools are ready to open,” he said.
“Every day, we’re trying to do our very best just like we expect our students to perform their best in the classrooms.”
Kathy Chaffin may be reached at 336-258-4058.