Back in the Halls; Students begin the traditional school year

Published 8:55 am Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Zada Hinkle, 9, a fourth grader at Banfield Elementary School, admitted she was “a little scared” about the new school year Tuesday morning.

“And nervous,” she added, as she waited in the Banfield gym with other fourth-graders upon arrival on the first day of the 2017 -2018 school year.

“Fourth grade might be kind of hard,” she added. “But I like math and coming back to school is fun.”

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It got even better when fellow fourth-grader Lilly Tapia, 9, came up and put her arms around Zada in welcome.

“Actually, I am kind of sad,” Lilly said. “My brother is in fifth grade this year and now I am here (at Banfield) by myself.”

Elizabeth Sorenson takes a selfie in front of a welcome board to Banfield Elementary with her children Zoee, 9, and Ayden Sorenson, 7 at the first day of school Tuesday morning.

She gave an exaggerated sigh, but she quickly broke into a grin and the girls stayed arm in arm as they filed into the halls for their last year as elementary students.

Banfield was one of six public schools — Southgate Elementary, Neveln Elementary, I. J. Holton Intermediate School, Ellis Middle School and Austin High School — to have their first days of the new year on Tuesday. Both Sumner Elementary School and Woodson Kindergarten Center are on a modified 45-day-on, 15 days off schedule. The Community Learning Center is home to early childhood classes. Pacelli Catholic School system also started its classes on Tuesday.

Banfield Elementary third grader Monica Tascano unpacks supplies to put in her locker during the first day of school Tuesday morning. Eric Johnson/

Banfield, located in the southwest part of the city, seemed pretty representative of first-day excitement at all schools.

Hallways were abuzz with the arrival of students, bundled against the early morning cool temperatures and clutching the straps of their backpacks.

Principal Jeff Roland greeted the students at the door.

“You’re going to be in fourth grade?” he said with mock disbelief, as one student said hello. “It can’t be!”

“Yes!” the student exclaimed. “I am!”

A student, reflected in the mirror of a bus, disembarks and heads into Banfield Elementary on Tuesday morning for the first day of school.

“Oh, I guess we’ve had a few tears,” Roland said, when asked about it, as he greeted another group. “But all of them have been parents.”

If self-assurance is a goal in the fourth grade, Jameson Konken, 9, is already an A student.

“What do I think of fourth grade? You have to work hard in school and you have to listen to the teachers,” he said seriously.

And the benefit of all that? a reporter asked.

He looked surprised.

“What does it get you?” he asked, eyes wide. “It gets you into fifth grade.”