By Chris Kieffer
VERONA – When Jaidyn Wright awoke early Wednesday morning, she munched on a strawberry Pop-Tart and listened to a pep talk from her parents.
After all, it was the 5-year-old’s first day of school. She would be starting kindergarten at Verona Elementary.
“We talked to her about how fun school would be,” said her father, Windell Wright, who delivered the talk along with his wife, Verona third-grade teacher LaTonya Wright. “We told her there was no need to be nervous and that she would begin to meet new friends. We wanted to get all of the jitters out of her system.”
Classes began on Wednesday for students in all 13 schools in the Lee County School District, as well as in several other Northeast Mississippi school districts.
Randell Moore, 5, was so excited about his first day of kindergarten at Verona he woke up before his mother, Vonda Kennedy.
“He said he’s ready to meet his teachers and his new friends,” Kennedy said. “He said, ‘Let’s hurry up and get here.’”
Verona first-grader Makynzie Holland, 6, prepared for the day by arranging her school clothes and supplies the night before and by going to bed early. She arrived on Wednesday with freshly-painted orange fingernails and toenails, thanks to her mother.
“I’m glad school has started,” her mother, Monique Holland, said.
Meanwhile, Shannon High School students Sara Parker and Alivia Roberts were eager to begin their senior year.
“I was counting down the days of summer, and I was ready to be here,” Sara said.
Added Alivia: “I’m excited to make it to senior year, but I’m not ready to graduate and leave yet.”
Chris Montgomery, an eighth-grader at Plantersville, was a bit more hesitant about returning to the school-year routine.
“It’s all right,” he said. “I just don’t like getting up in the morning.”
Lee County Superintendent Jimmy Weeks said the year started smoothly.
“The first day of school was good,” he said. “We didn’t have any major problems or hiccups.”
Saltillo Primary Principal Ken Smith said adjustments made by the school and police department helped with traffic flow on Wednesday. The school’s location off Highway 45 can lead to a long line of cars along the highway, especially on the first day when many parents bring their children instead of sending them on buses.
“It went really well,” Smith said. “The Saltillo Police Department did a great job of keeping the flow going.
“We had discussed a few possible changes to keep traffic from being gridlocked, and it worked well. We only have a certain amount of parking, and everyone was patient and cooperative.”
Mooreville High School Principal Lee Bruce also reported a successful opening of the new year.
“We’ve had a really good opening day,” Bruce said. “Students have been excited, and teachers are excited and ready to work, so it has been a good day.”
Verona kindergarten teacher Sarah Roach said she loves to “see a fresh set of new faces” at the beginning of a new year.
“I welcome parents to stay a little while because it helps them to know I care,” she said. “It is like a little hug for parents. Some of them are dropping kids off for the first time.”
Jaidyn wore a brave face as she began her first day. She can already recite the alphabet and noted she is most excited about coloring and about learning.
“I feel good about it,” said her father, Windell. “Of course, you are nervous as a parent and your first child is coming to school, but I’m happy for her. It will be a new beginning for her.”