Five-year-old Joshua Cortes was eager to begin his first day of kindergarten at Pine View Elementary School in Land O’ Lakes.
The youngster was beaming as his parents took his picture near a welcome sign at the school — the perfect prop for a photo op.
A little while later, as buses rolled into the bus loop, Pine View staff greeted students as they exited the bus.
They saw many familiar faces, and they offered kind remarks, welcoming students and commenting on such things as a new haircut or new pair of shoes.
Meanwhile, across campus, teachers were ready for another year.
Art teacher Kimber White expressed enthusiasm about teaching at Pasco County’s first officially authorized International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme.
The IB PYP highly regards the arts, encouraging creativity and innovation, across the disciplines.
Third-grade teacher Monica Woods aimed to set a positive tone for the children entering in her class. The room was cheerful, with warm touches, including this greeting: “Welcome to third grade, you’re going to love it here.”
Assistant Principal Mary Reynolds, an educator for 30 years, said she never gets over the potential the beginning of a new school year represents. She gets so excited that she can never sleep the night before a first school day.
Principal Kay Moore has a tradition. She holds an assembly and rings in the new year with an old-fashioned bell. It’s a time-honored ritual, signifying the start of something important, she said.
As Pine View settled in for the day, first day scenes were taking place across the district. Parents were busy dropping their kids off, big yellow buses were picking up kids in subdivisions and school staffs were busy getting the 2019-2020 school year started.
At Cypress Creek Middle High in Wesley Chapel, students streamed on to campus, where they were greeted by staff members, who directed traffic and answered questions.
Pasco County Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning said he’d heard good reports across the district.
“It has been a good week. It has been an exceptionally good week,” he told members of The Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce, during a breakfast meeting.
“As I’ve traveled to schools, I’ve talked to teachers, I’ve talked to parents, I’ve talked to principals, I’ve talked to kids — and almost without exception they’ve said, ‘You know, it seems like one of the smoothest school starts we’ve had.
“There hasn’t been all of the hateful, mean Twitter, Facebook chatter out there — which people are so quick to get out on social media, and start trashing people without the facts,” Browning added.
He also noted that the school district continues to grow at a rapid pace.
The school year began with about 1,300 more students than on the same day last year, he said, noting that’s the equivalent of a large district middle school.
Published August 21, 2019
Note: First day of school student photos can be found in our e-edition!