It's the first day of school for Fenton and Lake Fenton schools, and about 450 students converge upon Fenton's . Smiling teachers walk into the building one by one, as the school's new principal, Trevor Alward, confirms details with his front office staff. Students and their parents begin to arrive.
Zachary Wagner, second grade, arrived with his mother, Britt Wagner. Zachary said he was looking forward to gym class, playing games and going to soccer practice.
Fellow North Road Elementary student Alexis Williams, a fifth-grader, said she was happy to see her friends.
Her sister, Payton Williams, third grade, agreed. "I like hanging out with friends," Payton said.
The Williamses' friend Taeber Engelhart, in fifth grade, came to school soon after. Taeber's favorite class is "probably gym," she said.
Another North Road student, third-grader Caleb Baker, loves math. He had a good summer, playing outside and enjoying video games, he said. In addition, his family went to Mackinaw Island and Ohio. Caleb and his mother, Breanna Baker, went to find out who Caleb's teacher will be this year.
Nearby, father Al Serridge waited at the entrance of the school for his sons Noah, fifth grade, and Zacary, third grade, to arrive on their bus.
"They're very excited," Serridge said. "It was a long summer, and we did a lot of stuff, a lot of vacations. And they're ready to go back to school."
Noah and Zacary's older brother, Lucas, began his first day of middle school on Monday, Serridge said.
Inside, teachers waited for their students to arrive. Christine Eaton, a reading instructor who works with all grades at North Road Elementary, said she is looking forward to watching students make tremendous gains in reading. Her goals include helping students feel positive about themselves and about being a reader.
Tresa Squires, a kindergarten teacher this year, has more than 30 years of experience and has been "all over the district," she said. This is her second year back teaching kindergarten. Squires taught kindergarten for 10 years awhile ago.
"The kids are so excited," she said. "It's always fun. They want to come in and start reading right away," she said.
To this end, Squires has books on hand the kindergartners can pick up and begin reading, and feel successful with.
"They are very excited, and they're all spiffed up and ready for the world of education. That's why I like kindergarten so much," she said.
It's the principal's first year at North Road Elementary, too. Alward replaces former Principal Melody Strang, who is Fenton Area Public Schools' new director of instructional technology and curriculum services. It's his seventh year as a principal in the district, Alward said. He began at the former Fenton Intermediate School and then became principal at .
"The kids are excited," he said. "We had the open house last week. I met probably 95 percent of the parents and students.
"That was really cool."
For the 2011-12 academic year, North Road Elementary School's focuses will include continuing progress with the districtwide (which prepares students to compete in the 21st Century global economy), and improving students' writing skills. And, as the leader of the school, Alward likes to develop student leadership as well in coordination with North Road's Parent/Teacher Organization.
"I'm excited to be here," he said.