In fall 2010, Riley Hoth had a bellyful of butterflies on her first day at Moffat County High School, unsure of what to expect from her new classes and teachers.
That was as a freshman. Now that she’s a senior, those insects in her stomach have dissipated and she’s gone through the process enough times to be confident each day as she heads toward graduation.
But, there’s a whole school year to go before that happens.
The student body of the Moffat County School District was welcomed back enthusiastically Monday morning as they made their way through the front doors of each place of learning around town.
Students at Ridgeview Elementary School expressed their excitement to move up a grade.
Derek Langfield is going into third grade and said he had a fun summer spending time with his dad, but is ready for school.
“I’m going to be a third grader, and I will be learning more smarter things,” he said.
Jordis White, going into second grade, said she is ready to get back to science class.
“One time we did science…and we touched this ball thing that shocks you a little, and it kind of hurts to some people, and you get shocked by the ball, and your hair sticks up,” she said.
White said her second grade class might be braver than last year’s set of 7-year-olds.
A classmate “was going to touch the sink. Instead he slapped the sink and it shocked us all really hard. It was awesome. The second graders were crying because of it, and the first graders weren’t,” she said.
Novalee Beily, also going into second grade, said she was glad to be back in school, but nervous too.
“When you’re in school it’s really hard to start,” she said. “Last year it was hard about finding my friends.”
But this year she wasn’t as worried about locating buddies.
“I found some of them,” she said.
The excitement of the first day of classes was also buzzing at Craig Middle School, as students, parents and administrators bustled around campus, anxiously waiting for the first bell to ring.
“It was boring without the students this summer,” said Craig Middle School Vice Principal Jill Hafey.
Her enthusiastic spirit shined through as she directed students and parents to the correct classrooms at 7:45 a.m. Monday.
“I love it. I’m like a kid in a candy shop. We kind of need kids like fish need water,” she said.
Sixth-grade student Taelynn Southard confidently walked to school, and upon arrival, two of her friends ran up to her, giddily greeting their friend.
“I’m not nervous — I’m excited,” Southard said.
And so were the parents.
“I’m glad summer is over, but I did enjoy having them home,” said Sarah Lewis, who has two kids attending Craig Middle School — Dajia, 13, and Willie, 12.
Some parents will continue to see their progeny day after day even at school. MCHS teacher Terri Harjes said seeing daughter Caitlin begin her senior year has been a bittersweet experience.
“It’s got good and bad, but we’re on our way getting her out of here,” she said.
Harjes greeted students new and returning with a smile as the first bell rang and they shuffled into the auditorium for the introductory assembly.
“As much as we hate giving up those sleep-in summer mornings, it’s nice to see the kids and the promise of tomorrow,” she said.
MCHS junior Jenae Showalter was among those milling about in the school’s lobby before classes, catching up with people after being apart most of the summer.
“I love seeing all my friends again and being almost done with school,” she said. “I don’t really know what I’m going to do after high school, but it’s nice to still have some time to figure it out.”
Some upperclassmen have already got a good idea of their plans. Senior Brianna Combs will be participating in the cosmetology program at Colorado Northwestern Community College, meaning she’ll rarely be on campus at MCHS.
“The credits at the college count for here too,” she said. “I do have one class next semester, senior English, so I’ll be here then.”
Fellow senior Cade Bangs will be balancing class work with a part-time job, but he also plans to spare time for extracurricular activities.
“I’m really looking forward to the football games this year,” he said.
For Hoth, the final year of school in Craig has been a long time coming, already setting her sights past MCHS.
“I’m ready to just be out in the world by now,” she said.
Still, the inescapable rush of being a senior is one that has hit her nonetheless.
“It feels good to be the top dog,” Hoth said.
Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erin Fenner and Noelle Leavitt Riley contributed to this story.