It was a new beginning for some and the beginning of the end for others on the first day of school last week.
Pierce, Williams, and Princeton were the first three districts in Colusa County to return to school after a summer break.
Maxwell and Colusa returned this week, and students at all grade levels said they were both excited and nervous about the upcoming year.
“Honestly, it still feels like I’m a freshman,” said senior Jennifer Paiz, 17, at Williams High School on Aug. 9. “Everything is happening too fast and I’m not ready to be a senior. Soon college applications will be rolling in, and I’m going to have to say goodbye to all my friends. It’s going to be long distance, and it will be too hard.”
Paiz, who has attended Williams schools since kindergarten, plans to study computer engineering and business.
Sierra Abel, 14, a freshman, has four more years at Williams before she plans for college, and hopes to spend that time playing sports, being a cheerleader and getting good grades to become a teacher.
Overall, she said she was pretty excited about the new beginning and the first day of school.
“It’s a new year, and I’m starting high school,” she Abel said. “It is exciting.”
Williams Principal Nicholas Richter said expectations are “sky high” this year as they prepare students for life after high school.
“We have three big initiatives: We’re college and career ready; we’re living lifelong guidelines and life skills, and we’re going to have all our kids…ready, which means a-g, dual enrollment, having them in college classes, and challenging themselves academically. We’re going to continue to blaze a path to make sure our families see all the options their kids will have after high school.”
At Arbuckle Elementary School on Aug. 10, new kindergartners hugged moms and dads and scooted knowingly to their spots on the carpet.
This is the first year for all-day kindergarten at Pierce, and teacher Tish Nerli also has big expectations.
Before her students advance to first grade, they will be able to count to 100 and do simple addition and subtraction, identify and know all the sounds of letters, read and write about 40 words, and even write a complete sentence.
But it will be the last year at the elementary school for fifth grader Julie Moore, who said she was excited about the first day of school and was looking to see old friends make new friends, and getting some exercise.
“I think the only thing I did all summer was to go downstairs to eat and go upstairs to sleep,” she said. “I just watched a lot of TV.”
Although grammar and spelling are her best subjects, Moore said she was looking forward to a more advanced science curriculum.
“It think were are actually doing science experiments this year,” said Moore, who added grammar and spelling were her best subjects.
In fact, Moore’s teacher Samantha Vann said new K–12 science standards have been developed that are rich in content and practice and arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students better science education.
“They’re called the Next Generation Science standards,” Vann said. “They were adopted across the country, and each state adopted them,” Vann said. “They’re a lot more inquiry: Getting the kids to learn through questions instead of just ‘this is the answer.’ Instead, to do more research and hands-on.”
Arbuckle Principal Summer Shadley said there are about 630 kids in grades kindergarten through fifth at the elementary school.
She said the first day of school went very smoothly, largely due to teachers getting their students to their classes and focused on the work ahead.
“It’s not just the teachers, but the staff, the secretaries, and the custodians,” Shadley said. “Everyone came together to make it happen.” ■