With backpacks full of new school supplies and a summer’s worth of memories behind them, students in Gainesville returned to school Wednesday.
The first day of school is never without its hiccups for teachers, faculty, staff and students, but principals from Gainesville City Schools reported a highly successful first day of school.
“It was fabulous,” said Leslie Frierson, principal at Centennial Arts Academy. “We had a great day. The parents managed to make it into the building, even with some strained traffic here. It was great. Honestly, I’d say everyone came in with happy faces and left with happy faces, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Will Campbell, principal at Fair Street International Academy, said the first day at his school was similarly successful.
“We had planned and prepared our processes and our procedures, and we put our people on it,” Campbell said. “So it was an almost perfect day. Everybody, all our teachers, paraprofessionals, office staff, cleaning crew, cafeteria, everyone was on board and ready to be back.”
Campbell said the school’s motto for the year is “ALL IN.”
“A is for affirmation, L is for loving all our people, the next L is for our learning environment, the I is for intentional instruction, and finally the N stands for norms, because we believe when we practice these norms they will become natural.”
Pam Wood, principal at New Holland Knowledge Academy, said her school’s first day was “very smooth and very well organized.”
“Students were excited to get back, and teachers were excited to have them,” she said. “It was probably one of the best first days I can remember. It was really great, especially considering we have 955 children this year.”
Wood said her school gained eight new positions, meaning several new teachers.
“They were anxious to get into the building ... so we let them start coming in the week of the 18th,” she said. “And there has been a steady stream coming in and out since, getting ready for today.”
Principal Renee Boatright at Gainesville Exploration Academy said her school also saw high enrollment on its first day with about 980 students. Enrollment at all schools will surely continue to fluctuate during the first few weeks of school.
“It was a great day for us,” Boatright said. “When everything goes smoothly, you’re kind of going, ‘What’s up?’ But it honestly was smooth.”
Boatright, Frierson and many of the principals expressed their joy in seeing parents come into the school on the first day with their young students.
“Kids are excited to be back,” Frierson said. “Really I think this might be the first year I stood in the front doors and didn’t see a single one crying as they came in. That’s a first, so I’d say kids were ready to come back and teachers were ready for them to be back.”