PERU — Children were running, climbing, swinging and jumping during morning recess Wednesday, the first day of classes at Dirigo Elementary School.

Reading Recovery Interventionist Donna Gilbert was busy with playground duty. Pupils Rhyder Armstrong and Duncan Knox were among those who sought her help with problems.

“Use your words and don’t push or shove,” Gilbert reminded them.

“I love the first day of school and it’s fun to see the kids again,” she said while keeping watch over them.

In fifth-grade teacher Laura Johnston’s class, children worked on self-portraits they will display at the school’s open house next Wednesday, Johnston said. As Preston Morse worked on his self-portrait, he said it was fun and helped him learn new artistic methods.

Multiage classroom teacher Lisa Hutchins’ third- through fifth-grade students created hand and arm drawings to go along with their class motto to “Share our similarities and celebrate our differences.” Everett Kimball said of his new teacher, “I’m excited to have a third-grade teacher who loves science because I love science, too.”

Other students in Hutchins’ classroom enjoyed watching the antics of their two classroom pets, Tebow the turtle and Kevin the rabbit. Everett Kimball and Caden Hutchinson watched the rabbit’s activities closely and wondered aloud about Kevin’s behavior in his glass home. As student Riley Jordan watched Tebow the turtle swim she said, “Every time he looks at me I say, ‘What did I do?’”

The school added about 40 new students over the summer and six or seven new staff members, Principal Charles Swan said. Swan advised the students at morning assembly to “be awesome, be yourself, be kind, and never give up.”

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Riley Jordan in Lisa Hutchins’ multiage third- through fifth-grade classroom enjoys watching Tebow the turtle swim on the first day of school at Dirigo Elementary school in Peru on Wednesday. 

Reading Interventionist Donna Gilbert talks with Rhyder Armstrong, left, and Duncan Knox on the first day of classes at Dirigo Elementary School in Peru on Wednesday.

Fifth-graders, from left, Preston Morse, Andrew Wisecup, Jasmine Tripp, Alyssa Couture and Camren Dubay work on self-portraits in Laura Johnston’s class on the first day of classes at Dirigo Elementary School in Peru on Wednesday.

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