“Cool. This is cool!” yells a first-grade boy in Lori Sanders’ classroom at Fairview Elementary this morning.
It’s the first day of the school year, and the boy is holding up a Mario Kart art box high in the air so the kid sitting next to him can see.
Another student, in the row behind him, unzips her crisp, new backpack — most of the kids have crisp, new backpacks — and opens boxes of markers and crayons and pencils and dumps them into a box of her own.
There’s a long line for the pencil sharpener, but Sanders already said only two pencils from the brand-new packs need to be sharp for today.
“Why isn’t this pencil sharpener working?” one boy asks as the sharpener grinds on and on and on.
Sanders makes her way around the classroom and puts tags on backpacks with the students’ names, bus numbers, parents and phone numbers.
With each name tag, she asks how the students are getting home today. Several of them answer “Bus 21.”
Two of the first-graders brought their own lunch. The others will eat popcorn chicken and taters, grapes and garlic toast.
A range of emotion swept the school in its first hour of the year.
The older kids were out on the playground enjoying the last few minutes of summer. Anxious students traveled the hallway looking for classrooms.
Kids with wet eyes grabbed their moms’ hands. A girl in a pink tank top and bouncy black skirt clopped her shoes down the hall.
Joewie Heithoff, a second grader and daughter of Denae Rosdail and Tim Heithoff, was brought to school by her parents. Her younger brother was there.
She said she’s excited to learn lots of stuff this year. Maybe about the sea and ocean. Joewie likes sea horses and she’s seen one at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha.
Noah Boell, son of Tina and Chris Boell, starts the third grade today. He was one of the kids on the playground, surrounded by bouncing balls, swinging kids and girls’ gossip.
Noah said his favorite subject is Math, but he isn’t sure why.
Then the bell rings. It’s time to get in line.
Principal Sue Ruch’s voice reverberates through the school. She says “Hello” and asks the students to follow the rules.
Back in Sanders classroom, the seats are filling up.
The nametags are done and Sanders asks students to sit on the carpet in the front of the room. She pulls out a book: “The First Day Jitters.”
The book is about a girl named Sarah who doesn’t want to go to school.
None of the students said they didn’t want to come today.