Dirigo Elementary School Principal Charlie Swan leads Judah Lincoln, second from left, toward his classroom Wednesday while music teacher Charity Webster guides others to theirs. It was the first day of classes for kindergarten through grade 5 students at the Peru school. Prekindergarten students begin their classes Tuesday. Marianne Hutchins/Rumford Falls Times

PERU — Teachers and administrators greeted students Wednesday as they stepped off buses or walked from the parking lot on the first day of classes at Dirigo Elementary School.

Many teachers held lists of names of those in kindergarten to grade 5 and which classrooms they were assigned to.

Lots of students received a hug from their teacher from last year, including kindergartner Leona LaPointe from prekindergarten teacher Rebecca Hutchinson.

Dirigo Elementary School teacher Rebecca Hutchinson hugs kindergartner Leona LaPointe on Wednesday as she arrives for the first day of classes in Peru. Teacher Kelley Taylor stands beside them waiting for more students. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

Principal Charlie Swan said there are about 355 students this year.

“We had over 40 new students enroll,” he said Wednesday. “Some are students who had moved away and have returned, and others are new to the school. Our classrooms are fully staffed this year, we are just looking to hire two educational technicians for our Title 1 program.”

Swan said some staff members have changed roles, such as Devon Nelson, who previously worked in the school’s Title 1 program and will be teaching third grade this year.

Shayna Seames, who taught last year at Andover Elementary School, is teaching fifth grade and Sierra Pennington, a recent graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington, is teaching third grade, he said.

Dirigo Elementary School teacher Taryn Merry, right, greets Lindsey Stuntz with her daughter, Kennedy, and son, Lincoln, on Wednesday on their first day of classes in Peru. Students in kindergarten through grade 5 began Wednesday; prekindergartners begin Tuesday. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

“We have a tremendous staff and regardless of the different roles we play, we are all excited about the positive impacts that we know we are going to have on our students this year,” Swan said.

Dirigo Elementary School is part of Regional School Unit 56, which includes Dirigo High School and T.W. Kelley Dirigo Middle Schools, both in Dixfield. The district includes Dixfield, Carthage, Canton and Peru.

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