Hickerson sent her 5-year-old daughter to Still Elementary School for the first time on Monday, the same school her son enrolled in last year. Although the morning routine to get ready for school went well, Hickerson said, saying goodbye to daughter Sara Beth was difficult.
“It’s different with her,” Hickerson said. “She’s my only little girl.”
An official count of students enrolled in Cobb will take place today, said Jay Dillon, district spokesman. Last school year, Cobb had 33,800 elementary students enrolled.
Hickerson has four children, and two are old enough for school. Hickerson said her son, Bryce, age 6, a first grader at Still Elementary, told his little sister, Sara Beth, all about kindergarten the night before her first day.
“He was telling her all about where everything is and what to expect,” Hickerson said.
Sara Beth was too quiet to share her feelings about the first day of school Monday morning, but her classmate, André Obioma, was too excited to sit still as he waited to get inside the classroom.
“I’m happy to make new friends,” Obioma said.
When he looked up at his mom, he could tell, “She’s going to cry,” Obioma said.
Holding back tears, Blessing Obioma, his mother, said she wished she could stay with him all day.
“I’m nervous because I know it’s going to be a whole new beginning,” said Blessing Obioma, a hair stylist who lives in Marietta.
Hickerson said later that day, when she picked Sara Beth up from school, she was ready to share stories about her day.
“She loved her first day of school,” Hickerson said. “She cried a little bit, the teacher said, but after I left, she had a great day.”
Her daughter’s favorite part, Hickerson said, was recess.
Cobb County schools expected between 109,750 to 111,000 students to attend its 114 schools Monday, Dillon said.
Ali Curtis, a stay-at-home mom who lives in Marietta, said it was her son, not her, who was on the verge of tears when she dropped her two children off at Still Elementary. Curtis has two children, Kamryn, a first grader, and Kaleb, a third grader, who attend Still Elementary.
“I think it’s too early to go back to school,” Curtis said. “I wish we had more time to have fun in the sun.”
The hallways of Still, lined with colorful classrooms, seemed too quiet to be holding dozens of small children, and kindergarten teacher Amy Harwell of Kennesaw agreed she had a good classroom for the first day of school.
“They’re doing great,” Harwell said. “They came in and got started right away.”
Right after the first bell of the day, Still Elementary Principal Grace Scarberry said the day was off to a smooth start. Scarberry said she was excited about a new program the school is starting that will teach students to become leaders.
“It’s called the ‘Leader in Me’ program,” Scarberry said. “We’re going to be teaching our children the habits of becoming good leaders.”
Those habits include teaching children to set their own goals and be proactive, she said.
Chris Ragsdale, interim superintendent for Cobb schools, said he is also looking forward to a new school year in order to accomplish new goals.
“We’re going to focus on teamwork and pulling the district together,” Ragsdale said. “It’s all about teamwork.”
Ragsdale said he was proud to be able to increase the school district’s budget this year to boost morale among employees.
On May 29, the Cobb Board of Education approved a $900.2 million general fund budget, which is 5.1 percent, or $43.9 million, more than last year’s budget of $856.3 million.
“It’s a great budget this year, so it helps everyone stay focused and put everything into their work,” he said.
Scott Bursmith, principal of Allatoona High School in Acworth, said his school has seen the benefits of the new budget. The high school hired 25 new teachers, he said.
“This has been the largest new hire for us since we opened (in 2008),” Bursmith said. “I’m excited at the quality of teachers we have.”
Bursmith said the new teachers have allowed the school to lower the number of students in each class from 37 to 32 students.
Cobb had 32,900 high schoolers enrolled last year, Dillon said.
Two Allatoona High seniors, Krista Rogers and Brianna Middleton, who are on the marching band, said they’re glad to be on their final lap at the school.
“I want it to be over with already,” Rogers said. “But also, I want it to go by slowly.”
Middleton said she was excited for her senior year, but there were more pressing matters to worry about Monday morning before third period.
“I’m ready for lunch,” Middleton said.