By Chris Kieffer
SHANNON – Tre Patterson awakened at 5 on Thursday morning.
His mother, Mineka Vance, took the 7-year-old to breakfast at McDonald’s, but Tre wanted to get his food to-go, so he could get to Shannon Primary School more quickly.
“I’m excited about being in second grade,” he said.
Mostly, Tre said, he is looking forward to “doing math, because it is fun.”
Thursday was the first day of school for the Lee County School District, as students ended their summer breaks and returned to school buildings in Guntown, Saltillo, Mooreville, Shannon, Verona and Plantersville.
Not everyone was as excited as Tre. Shannon Primary first-grader Gabrielle Brooks, 6, was fighting nerves and stomach aches as her mother, Tasha Brooks, dropped her off at the school. The elder Brooks suspected her anxiety had to do with moving to a new, unknown classroom.
Tasha Brooks struggled with her own emotions while she approached the school.
“I’m thinking about when she was born,” Brooks said. “Now she is going to first grade. I’m thinking about how time has passed so fast. I wanted to shed a tear because it has gone by so fast. She is growing up so fast.”
Many parents carried shopping bags filled with paper towels, boxes of tissues and other school supplies as they escorted their children to the school. Ashley Greer brought her son Colton, 5, to his first day of kindergarten.
Greer, who had worked at the school for the previous 10 years before moving to Itawamba Attendance Center as an assistant principal this year, said Colton already is comfortable with the school.
“He is excited, and all of his friends are in his class,” she said.
She also felt “fine” in dropping him off, although she admitted she might cry on her way to work.
Once the day began, teachers introduced the kindergarten to second-grade students to different daily routines. The kindergartners stood in lines, walked to the bathrooms and practiced eating in the cafeteria. Second-graders in Tamika Freeman’s class filled out a worksheet with information about themselves.
“I don’t think you’re ever too old to be excited about the first day of school,” Principal Shelly Brooks said. “Everyone is excited, students, teachers and parents. We’ve had a few tears (from students), but they have already settled down and are excited. Teachers will go over procedures and begin developing classroom communities.”
Superintendent Jimmy Weeks said the first day went smoothly, despite a heavy rain shower that occurred as students were dismissing in the afternoon.
“I’m thankful for all of the preparation by the principals and the staff, and I appreciate the parents for being patient and working with us,” Weeks said. “Everything went well.”
Saltillo High junior Jaelyn Cowart, 16, was excited to be closer to her senior year.
“I feel like I should show the younger kids how to be a leader, and I’m looking forward to next year,” she said.
Chase Crosby, 15, a sophomore at Saltillo High, said she was more excited about the first day of school than she was last year. After all, she and her classmates were no longer “new to the food chain.”
At Guntown Middle School, sixth-grader Kayden Wylie, 11, was and said it was “a little scary” to be starting at an unknown school. Eighth-grader Emma Pettey, however, was excited to be among the elders in the sixth- to eighth-grade school.
“I feel like we will get to do more because it is our last year here,” she said.
Lauren Wood contributed to this story.