Hermiston students go back to school

<p>Kristina Martin walks her two children, Sammie and Mason, into the Highland Hills Elementary School building Monday on the first day of school. Sammie began her third-grade year Monday, and Mason started kindergarten.</p>

Hermiston School District students made their way back to school this week, and, for the most part, everything went off without a hitch.

School district administrators visited several different schools Monday and said they were impressed by how efficiently everything ran.

Superintendent Fred Maiocco said he was able to help Sandstone and Armand Larive Middle School students with their lockers, adding he always has to put on a brave face when he goes into the middle schools.

“No matter how much I try, I have to trust that the staff has got it all figured out when it comes to the locker combinations at the sixth-grade level,” he said during a Monday special School Board work session.

Maiocco said even though it was the first day of school, he was also pleased teachers were delving into instruction on the first day.

“It was exciting to see all that,” he said.

Assistant Superintendent Bryn Browning said her favorite part of the day was venturing over to West Park Elementary School during students’ lunch period. She said, for the first time, kindergarteners participating in the full-day program ate lunch at the school.

“(They) had their trays in the lunch room,” she said. “That adds a whole other dynamic when they are having to hold their tray, get their milk, use the tongs, slide it down the thing. The (counter) is taller than they are. It was just one of those things where you had to stop and watch because you didn’t know what was going to go on. They were so cute.”

School District Operations Director Mike Kay said staff also had a great start to the year, and he could tell teachers and students were all excited to get back to school. He said the busing went well, with the exception of one driver forgetting a part of a route, but staff went back and picked up those students.

“For the most part, it was a great start to the school year,” he said.

At each of the individual schools, students were decked out in their new outfits and shoes and carried shiny new notebooks and pencils.

Students at Highland Hills Elementary School were prepped and ready to go for the first day of school. First-grade student Natalee Stevens said she was going into the first grade this year, and she looks forward to writing in her new class.

“I really like writing,” she said. “I think it is really fun. I like making books and write at home.”

Sixth-grader Monica Tejeda said she was nervous about starting middle school at Armand Larive Middle School, but, at the same time, she was excited about her art and science classes. Her younger brother, Christian Tejeda, is a first-grader at Highland Hills and Monica and their mother, Elidia Tejeda, walked him into school Monday so he could get settled.

Third-grade Highland Hills student Sammie Martin said she is looking forward to seeing all her friends this year, as well as diving into her school subjects. As well, first-grader Evelynn Lozano said she was eager to see her school friends and participate in music class.

“She likes to sing,” her mother, Alicia Lozano, said Monday.

Some teachers said they were just as nervous and excited about the first day of school as their pupils.

“We get just as excited as the kids,” Jackie Ritch, an ELL teacher at Highland Hills, said.

She said her favorite part of the day is greeting all of the students and their parents as they make their way into the school in the morning.

“We get out and talk to students and parents,” she said. “It is a lot of fun.”

At the secondary level, Hermiston High School senior Adan Sanchez said even though he is ready to graduate, he is looking forward to his lifetime sports education class this year. The football player said he is also ready for the Bulldogs’ upcoming season.

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