Shawn Holbrook and his son Landen, 7, cross Main Street to Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway for Landen’s first day of second grade Wednesday. Landen said his favorite subject was recess. Jon Bolduc/Sun Journal

NORWAY — As Shawn Holbrook and his son Landen walked in the crosswalk, up the stairs and into Guy E. Rowe Elementary School on Main Street for the first day of school Wednesday, Landen’s backpack was almost as large as he is.

The 7-year-old said he was excited for the first day of second grade. When pressed on his favorite subject, Landen’s dad helped him answer: recess.

It was the first day of school for School Administrative District 17 students in kindergarten through grade seven and high school freshmen.

Landen and his schoolmates were greeted with colorful messages written in chalk on the sidewalks.

Schools across the country host “Chalk the Walk” events in which members of the community write messages on the sidewalks for the first day of school. Sixth-grade teacher Carrisa Hammer saw a social media post about one such event and was motivated to bring the artful greetings to Rowe.

Norway police officer Robert Federico II greets students at Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway on Wednesday. Jon Bolduc/Sun Journal

“Rowe has a plethora of sidewalks, so I figured I would share the idea with the president of the Parent Teacher Organization, Sarah Carter,” Hammer said. “She was very happy with the idea. We already had some chalk left over from last year we could use for this project.”

Members of the PTO gathered Tuesday evening to write their messages on the front and rear entrance sidewalks.

“This is about creating a sense of community,” Carter said. “We want to welcome students back to school with a positive message and hope they have a successful year. We want all the kids here at Rowe to feel welcome.”

Despite a setback in the completion of a major capital improvement project, it was business as usual for Rowe staff and pupils.

Replacement of the school’s 50-year-old inefficient heating system was delayed by shipping issues with the ventilation units.

Superintendent Rick Colpitts said last week contractors would switch to second shift so the work would not interfere with school. The work is expected to be completed by the end of September, Facilities Director Dean Dillingham said.

The first day at Oxford Elementary School was a festive one, with upbeat music playing over the loudspeaker outside.

Timothy Ridlon, 5, of Oxford arrives for his first day of kindergarten at Oxford Elementary School on Wednesday morning. Dee Menear/Advertiser Democrat

Timothy Ridlon, 5, of Oxford danced to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams as he headed to his first day of kindergarten.

“I am excited,” he said with marked apprehension as he danced by.

Third-grader Lilly Smith, 8, of Harrison said she was excited for her first day at Harrison Elementary School, which serves pupils in grades three through six.

As she walked into school, Lilly spotted her best friend, Sophia Sparrow, 8, of Harrison. The girls happily reunited after a summer of barely seeing each other.

“I am most excited to be able to play with all my friends,” Lilly said.

On Thursday, grades eight and 10-12 begin the school year. Pre-kindergarten starts Sept. 3.

Cesalee Smith, right, walks her daughter Lilly Smith, 8, both of Harrison, to her first day of third grade at Harrison Elementary School on Wednesday. Dee Menear/Advertiser Democrat


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