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Parents and students tackle 1st day of school
ven parents with more than 1 child can have a hard time
Jose Ruiz, center, arrives at Gainesville Exploration Academy Friday with his sons Jose, left, Alfredo and Luis for the first day of school. - photo by Tom Reed

Backpack? Check. Paper? Check. Pencils? Check. Shoes and clothes? Check.

The first day of school can leave parents and their students running down the check list of supplies they have — and some they forgot — before the first bell rings.

That bell for some 30,000 Gainesville and Hall County students rang Friday morning.

For some, it will mark the start of their last year, while others, including Abbygail Malcom, a 5-year-old kindergarten student at Gainesville Exploration Academy, will start school for the first time.

“I want to go to school,” said Abbygail. “I think I’ll learn my ABCs.”

Abbygail’s mother, Laurie Malcom, said her daughter knows her ABCs but was excited about starting school.

“(Abbygail) didn’t want to go to sleep (Thursday) night,” Malcom said. “She was acting like it was Christmas or something.”

Turns out, Malcom didn’t get much sleep either. Friday morning was bittersweet for the mother, who held back tears leaving the classroom.

“I’m keeping my composure right now,” she said. “But it’ll be different when I get in the car.”

And some parents said that even if this is the second or third time around dropping a child off at school for the first time, it is still a little tough to walk out the door in the morning.

Randall Barnhill dropped off his son, Kaden, 5, Friday morning at Gainesville Exploration for his first day of kindergarten.

“He is my second born, so this isn’t new, but I’m one of those parents that’s kind of attached to his children more than most,” Barnhill said. “So my heart hurts a little to bring him here and sit him down.”

Kaden, his dad said, was ecstatic to start school.

“He wanted to come to school — all my boys were anxious to start school this year,” Barnhill said.

Just down the hall from Kaden’s classroom, Ralph Hernandez Jr. was taking in his first time standing in the halls of a school as a student.

Ralph, a 5-year-old kindergarten student at Gainesville Exploration, was “nervous and anxious” to start school for the first time, his mother Juana Santoyo said.

But, she said, those thoughts were overshadowed by his excitement.

Santoyo, however, said she was “pretty comfortable” with her son’s first day.

“I’m nervous, sure,” she said. “But I’m not at the same time. I know the school, so I’m pretty comfortable with him coming here.”

She hopes over the next few months her son’s English will grow stronger.

Students will have their first full week of school starting Monday, and parents said it gets a little easier to drop off their kids throughout the year.

But, Barnhill said, when that first day of school rolls back around for his next child, it could be more of the same.

“I have one more to go, so once they’re all in school I can rule on (if it gets easier or not), but for right now it really doesn’t,” he said. “The house gets a little emptier during the day and you can’t wait to get them from school.”

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