Ryan Wilkins, principal of Hartford-Sumner Elementary School, said he experienced a first Thursday morning when youngsters returned to school.
“I had a number of students share that they were glad summer was over so they could come back to school. Place this under the first time category,” he said via e-mail at the end of the school day. “I even had one student thank me for having her attend summer school.”
Principals reporting late Thursday afternoon seemed to have similar reactions from many students.
At Dirigo Elementary School in Peru, Principal Kathy Richard was busy making sure each child was put on the right bus.
As she stood in the sunshine in front of the school with a cell phone in one hand, she pointed second-grader Jasmine Strout in the right direction. At the same time she was making sure that no child whose parent was scheduled to pick them up was outside.
“Everyone has had great attitudes,” she said.
Enrollment as of Thursday was 363, about 12 fewer than in June. Generally, schools don't have a final count until after Labor Day.
Wilkins said about 325 youngsters are enrolled at Hartford-Sumner, which is slightly up from last year.
Rumford Elementary Principal Ann Chamberlin said the beginning of the year was smooth at her school of 270 pupils.
Tears from just one youngster were reported, she said, but there were a few from parents who were leaving their 5-year-olds for the first time.
Tom Ward, superintendent of Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10, which includes the Dixfield, Rumford and Buckfield areas, said not all students began classes Thursday. Kindergarten through grade five, and sixth-graders and ninth-graders attended classes. On Friday, nearly everyone returns, with the only exception being the prekindergarten classes. Those begin next week.
In neighboring SAD 44, Superintendent David Murphy said just under 900 K-12 students began the school year in one of the district's four schools, just a few less than the end of last school year. And again, more are expected to be enrolled next week and after Labor Day.
“I just finished my usual trek through the district and am pleased to report that we had an excellent opening day. The schools looked great and the students and staff seemed happy to be back. No surprises!” he said via e-mail.
For Wilkins, the smooth opening day may be indicative of the school year to come.
“If each (day) goes as well as this one, we will have a memorable year,” he wrote.