Williams Unified School District made the first day of school on Aug. 8 a celebration.
Before first bell at Williams Elementary, brown and gold balloons, photo opportunities, Williams police officers, and firefighters at the Lower Elementary School helped to ease first day jitters for the younger students, parents, teachers, and staff.
“We’re excited for the new year,” said Williams alum Heather Morales, whose daughter Katelyn, 7, started second grade. “They made a big tadoo about it this year, which gave the kids a little extra pep in their step. I think that was really neat, seeing the policemen, the firedog, the firemen, and balloons. The teachers were excited and I think that rubbed off on the kids.”
Even the kindergarten students, who typically shed tears on the first day, enthusiastically waved goodbye to parents at the front of the school and formed a human locomotive behind their teachers, marching off to class making chugga-chugga noises, arm pumps, and train whistles.
When Arbuckle Elementary School let out later in the afternoon, students and teachers chatted about their exciting first day.
“My teacher, I don’t remember her name, but she was pretty good,” said Lucia Hernandez, 8, a third grader. “She really loves cactuses. She said she’s obsessed with cats and cactuses.”
Oscar Calderon, 5, a kindergarten student, said he spent his first day drawing on the chalkboard and playing with wooden blocks.
“We could draw whatever we want,” Oscar said. “I ‘drawed’ castles that had all the fences. Guess what our teacher had? She had V. I. P. She said she really liked us. And guess what, her last class, they left her.”
Fourth grade teacher Kelli Garcia said the first day of school got off to a great start.
“We have a big group of students,” Garcia said. “I felt that the kickoff assembly that they did was really good; kind of brought all the kids together. But it was a great first day. I’m really excited for the school year.”
First day also went well for Martha Martinez, also an Arbuckle fourth grade teacher.
“I’m excited for my class,” she said. “They’re very sweet; so far they’re very sweet.”
Arbuckle and Williams elementary schools have also made a number of improvements over the summer.
Arbuckle Elementary will have a ribbon cutting and open house at 5:15 PM tonight for the school’s new classroom facility, followed by Back to School Night.
Williams Elementary greeted students with a new play court, while construction continues on the new multi-purpose room.
Both school districts are making improvements at all of their campuses using school bonds passed by voters in 2016. ■