Students back to hitting the books at Scottsbluff schools

Taylor McDaniel drops off her sons, Andy (middle) and Felix, for the first day of school at Longfellow Elementary in Scottsbluff Thursday.

Students arrived for their first day of the 2019-20 school year Thursday, Aug. 15, at all the Scottsbluff Public Schools.

“I’m pretty excited to be back at school,” Lake Minatare fourth-grader Addison Weinreis said. “It’s pretty boring at home.”

Weinreis was one of the 3,436 students, as of Aug. 14, to start school in the Scottsbluff district Thursday, according Scottsbluff Public Schools Superintendent Rick Myles.

“My impression, so far, is it’s a perfect day,” Myles said at about 3 p.m. “I’m really excited about what I’ve seen in all the schools.”

“We are ready,” Lake Minatare principal Jeremy Behnke said before the first students arrived Thursday morning. “Currently, we have 67 students enrolled.”

“It’s my favorite day of the year,” Longfellow principal Laurie Bahl said. “Everyone is excited to go. The kids are excited to get back and see their friends. The teachers have been working hard to get prepared. There’s a lot of excitement and energy today.”

For some, it was a return with a change in grade level; for others, it was their first day, which was bittersweet.

“I love school,” Lake Minatare third-grader Faith Engel said. “It’s exciting to be in a new grade.”

For one dad, Chris Maid, it was a hug and a kiss at the front door of Lake Minatare school.

“First kiddo is going off to school,” Maid said as he watched his daughter, Isabella, go into school. “She’s growing up too fast.”

At Westmoor Elementary, students arrived to spiffed up school grounds, including freshly painted school crossing lines and red no parking zones on the curbs. Things like trees that had been removed over the summer were noticed by parents and students as they walked into the main entrance.

Parents lined up at the corner of the school grounds, taking photos of their children in front of the school sign. Some parents had children posing with signs, while others had children who could barely contain their excitement to get back to school.

Parker Marlow, who posed with his sister Gracie, grudgingly admitted he was among the kids who weren’t all that eager for the first day, though he smiled and hugged his sister as his dad, Drew, took his photo.

“I kind of do not want summer to end,” he said.

At Longfellow, mom Keely Langer said her daughter, first-grader Faith Langer, is “excited, but nervous, too. I told her that’s OK, she’s not the only one.”

There were sentimental moments.

Cheryl Balandran and Larry Balandran, at Westmoor, were among the parents escorting kindergartners for their first day of school — ever. Leo Balandran seemed happy to be walking in to school, joined by his brother Larry Jr., but mom admitted, “I’m trying to keep from crying.”

“I don’t know where the summer went,” Melissa Luikens said as she and her husband, Caleb, dropped off two of their four kids at Lake Minatare. “It went by so fast.”

For Lake Minatare fourth-graders Taylor Engel and Addison Weinreis, heading back to school was “exciting” because being at home was “boring.”

“I’m excited that I get to see my friends again,” Longfellow third-grader DaKota Newsom said.

Backpacks were loaded and school supplies were dragged in, hauled in with the assistance of parents, or even creatively carried. Westmoor student Jasper Fleming used his skateboard to carry his supplies, noting his backpack was also full.

Teachers held the door for students, who were greeted over and over with the refrain, “Good morning. Have a great day!”

As the bell rang and parents lined up in the school yard to get one last look at students walking in, Sharon Schaneman at Westmoor summarized the morning: "What a fun day.”

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