LAKE PLACID — Parents and guardians walked their elementary students to their classes for the first time on Monday, many wearing backpacks that were almost as big and weighed as much as them. Older students throughout the county walked with friends to classrooms that will be their homes away from home for 180 school days.

Monday was no rehearsal or open house; it was the real deal. The requisite pictures and social media posting with the grade levels were posted by 9 a.m.

Some parents could barely wait to drop off their students, while parents of pre-K and kindergarten kids forced a smile and inconspicuously wiped away tears.

Parents will get a break from the famous summer chorus, “I’m bored” and “I’m hungry,” for another nine or so months, assuming there are no hurricane make-up days.

At Lake Placid Elementary School, the parent drop-off line ran smoothly with two school resource officers, teachers and School Board of Highlands County member Bill Brantley helping the youngsters out of the cars and directing them to the cafeteria.

Brantley said the school resource officers participated in training of dealing with an active shooter situation. Something he hopes the SROs never need but is glad they are continually training. He also said teachers and board members met over the summer to discuss discipline and referrals. According to Brantley, the discussions included intervention before students end up with multiple referrals.

“I am looking forward to the students having a safe and healthy year,” Brantley said. “Good attendance is very important. If the students aren’t in class, they are not learning.”

School Superintendent Dr. Brenda Longshore said Monday was a smooth start to the school year, noting that students and teachers all seemed to be happy to be back.

Longshore visited many schools on their first day of the new year, and hopes to visit the remainder of the schools by week’s end.

Sandra Hurlbutt was busy dropping off grandchildren to the local schools on Monday morning. At LPE, she dropped off Leah Jacobs, a brand new third-grader in Jennifer Bussey’s classroom. Hurlbutt was cautiously optimistic for this to be a better year for the youngster than previous years.

“My hope for Leah is that she is happy this year,” Hurlbutt said. “I also hope that she is not bullied.”

The Highlands News-Sun caught up to McKenzie Crago, who was posing for a picture her mom and dad were taking. “Cheese,” the red-headed second-grader said through a row of pearly whites from behind a frozen smile. McKenzie was excited to be back at school. Her mom said her wish list for McKenzie was to enjoy the year and to learn a lot.

The first day students will have off is Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 2. Besides a teacher workday in October, the next break for students is for Thanksgiving from Nov. 25-29. Winter break is from Dec. 23-Jan. 3. Spring Break is March 16-20.

In the blink of an eye, it will be the last day of school on May 22 and the cycle repeats itself, except for graduating seniors.

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